He was a tiger of a man, Dr Verghese Kurien. He took on politicians with no fear. And all prime ministers, irrespective of political ideology, knew that this was a man with a great vision and unique valour.
All of them were unanimous in one decision - that he needed to be
I remember once asking him who he felt our finest Prime Minister was. His answer was immediate: "Indira Gandhi. She was mentally very tough."
He was the Robin Hood of the Indian milkman. And more than just a client to my father when he started his advertising agency, daCunha Associates.
The day my father requested Dr Kurien that he give the ad agency a free hand, since the topical nature of the Amul billboard campaign required quick decisions and turnaround time, he obliged, no questions asked.
A sanction that truly requires trust. And a sanction that has lasted to this day. To know that you have the full backing of a client when you set out to create ads for a brand is a hugely satisfying, reassuring feeling.
I first met Dr Kurien when I was six. My father had been handling the Amul account since 1966.
On my sixth birthday, Dr Kurien, who by now was also a family friend, said that he had a special present for me. I went to his home in Gujarat and there, on the dining table, was a large, carefully wrapped gift.
I dived into the unearthing of this massive present with all the vitality and expectation of a six-year-old, unpeeling it gradually like an oversized onion. Thirty minutes and many layers of paper later, at the bottom of this huge box lay the pot of gold - a silver foil wrapped cube of Amul Cheese.
Dr Kurien looked at me, a twinkle in his eye, and said, "It is a special present, right?"
Couldn't argue with that.
Yes, for all his mental toughness, this was a man with a fab sense of humour.
Cut to 1998. One morning, we ran a hoarding lampooning the then-president of the BCCI. 'Dalmiya kuch kaala hai?', we asked cheekily.
The gent in question was furious and threatened to slap a defamation suit on Dr Kurien personally.
I got a phone call from Dr Kurien asking what exactly we had shown. I explained and then asked him if he'd like us to remove the hoarding.
"Not on your life," he thundered and even suggested we create a fresh visual that is unprintable in this newspaper!
Tribute to Dr.V. Kurien, Father of the White Revolution - Sept'12
Dr Kurien was a fearless man with a wicked sense of humour.
What more can one ask of a client and a man.
RIP, Dr K And thank you for the cube of Amul cheese. You are utterly, butterly great, sir.
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