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Review: 30 Second Thrillers by KV Sridhar

From Lalitaji to the zoozoos, this new book is a treasure trove of anecdote, trivia and insights into iconic Indian ads

books Updated: Sep 09, 2017 11:56 IST
Simha Sagar
Simha Sagar
Hindustan Times
Indian advertising,KV Sridhar,Doordarshan
A zoozoo, one of those beloved advertising creations, seen in action during the IPL T20 semi finals at the Dr DY Patil Cricket Stadium in Mumbai on April 21, 2010.(IPL via Getty Images)

Advertising as we know it has been around in India for more than half a century. But apart from a vague knowledge that this vocation requires a ‘creative’ bent of mind and involves odd working hours, very little is known about advertising even in these everybody-knows-everything days.

Which is surprising, considering the symbiotic relationship Indians share advertising. Slogans have crept into our lexicon, jingles are part and parcel of Antakshiri contests and ads in general provide hours of entertainment with their iconic protagonists, compelling storylines and slick production values.

On the surface, 30-second thrillers by KV Sridhar – aka Pops - is a compilation of the best Indian ads. However, what the book does is raise the curtain on a profession whose workings are largely unknown. It is a treasure trove of anecdote, trivia and insight for everyone who has been involved with Indian advertising and that includes consumers who have sung along with jingles and welcomed Lalitajis and zoozoos into their living rooms.

What makes the book so engaging is that it is set as a series of conversations between the author and the makers of the country’s most popular advertisements. The contributors include personalities such as Alyque Padamsee, Piyush Pandey, R Balki, Prasoon Joshi and Nitish Tiwari – all of whom will be familiar to even those who don’t work in advertising and marketing.

The late Vinod Khanna in the unforgettable ad for Cinthol soap.

What is evident in all these conversations is the amount of hard work (and sometimes heartbreak) that goes into the creation of ads. That advertising is a passionate profession is common knowledge but what is not well-known is the lengths that the people behind the ads will go to capture and communicate the perfect emotion.

KS Chakravarthy on the effort it took to get Zakir Hussain into the iconic tea ad, Ashish Khazanchi on Jingalala slogan, Rajiv Rao on how the name Zoozoos came about, Agnello Dias on the dynamics of friendship in the Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hain commercial and Preeti Nair on the conception of the Balbir Pasha ad are some of the many conversations that feature in the book.

The original girl under a waterfall: Karen Lunel for Liril soap.

The book is divided into various ‘connections’ – The 30 Second Connection, The Kids Connection, The Human Connection, The Humour Connection, The Catch Connection and The Celebrity Connection.

Each one of these connections features the relevant ads and conversations with the creators of the ads. The ads range from the nostalgic Cherry Blossom commercials of the Doordarshan era to the much more recent Flipkart ads that show kids dressed as adults.

A thoughtful feature in the book is a QR Code for each of the ads – all the reader has to do is scan the code with an app and the ad in question will play on the mobile screen, which means the reader does not have to make an effort to remember the ad being discussed.

Author KV Sridhar ( Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint )

Pops – KV Sridhar’s – background in advertising makes him ideally qualified to author a book of this breadth and scope. He has been involved with some of the most popular advertising campaigns and his easy familiarity and camaraderie with the who’s who of advertising has helped him get into the heart of the stories and seamlessly weave a narrative that encapsulates the length and breadth of Indian advertising.

All in all, 30-second thrillers proves that reading about the making of ads can be as entertaining as seeing the ads. (Or in a few cases, even more entertaining!)

Simha Sagar is a freelance copywriter and independent creative consultant.

First Published: Sep 08, 2017 20:12 IST