By Vipin Dhyani
Founder & Creative Director, Thoughtshop
Over social interaction, or sometimes small talk, when people find out that I am from ‘Advertising’, they give me a peculiar smile. It’s more like a half-nod, half-smile that I read as “Ah, Advertising! I know, I know. You guys cook up those little, funny stories. Perhaps even I could…”
And I respond with a half-nod, half-smile that reads “Yeah, Advertising! I know what you are thinking. Perhaps even you could…” The very next moment, I realize that in theory, they are right. Yes, they could. It was sometime in 2006 that I took a cab from Mumbai airport, desperate to get home. I was back from one shoot just in time to reach another one the next day.
Turns out, I forgot my cellphone in the cab. Caught at a shoot for the next three days, I could only imagine what must have happened to the phone. Finally, I went back to the airport, hoping that maybe, just maybe, I could track it down. And then I met Inspector Vijay. A name that conjures up images of Amitabh Bachchan from the dishoom dishoom movies of the 70’s. Thankfully, this inspector was nothing like that. On the contrary, he was as cool as ice. He heard my frantic plea and came up with an effortless solution that just required us to wait patiently for a couple of hours.
He first figured out which particular cab had picked me up from the airport and then, where it was. In another hour, it was due to make its daily round to the airport. Over an elaichi chai, he asked me, “Toh… aap kya karte hain?”
And there it was - that smile. This time, the smile was much larger.
“Waise, main bhi…”
I had met bankers who thought advertising wasn’t really rocket science, but a policeman? The next elaichi chai had arrived and I smiled back. The invitation was there for him to go into story-telling mode. Sheepishly, he went ahead and narrated a whole script for a commercial. All on his own.
I had initially thought that I would hear him out, just with the intention of being nice to him, but within moments, he had me hooked. One value-addition followed another and we ended up crafting and co-creating a perfectly watchable television commercial. It was an imaginary product and an imaginary brief, but still… His talent stunned me. And he too was not any less surprised. Meanwhile, a constable tracked the cab, got my phone from the driver, and walked towards us triumphantly. He was a little surprised to see the two of us already smiling, already pleased with ourselves. The relief of finding the phone paled in comparison.
Of course, Vijay didn’t believe me when I told him that he was shockingly good. Till the end, I couldn’t convince him that I wasn’t merely being nice to him, I was actually impressed. I remember a wise old head telling me, “Anybody can be creative!” After I met Vijay, I knew what he meant. As for Vijay, all he asked me as we parted was whether I could counsel his daughter on how to enter the world of Advertising. Of course, I did.
(Names have not been changed to reveal identity)