Scream, you’re on camera!


Your responses to my line made me miss advertising, unusually, the other day. (Otherwise it is mostly on the first of every month.)

It also reminded me of another day- a dull, rainy morning three months after I had quit advertising. Sitting in the comfort of Oshiwara’s Cafe Coffee Day, with a dear friend of mine who had wanted to have a bloke-to-bloke talk with me, I watched the city rush to work in the slush outside.

‘Thank God, I’m no longer a racing rat!’ I had said, sipping my cappuccino with an extra shot in it. ‘Really?’ he had asked almost before I finished.

Seeing me spill a little coffee in surprise, he had elaborated. In doing so, he delivered the most powerful argument I’ve ever heard against my decision to quit advertising. 

‘Ramesh, you know what you’ve done? Quitting a profession that you understand, whose skills you’ve honed, and in which you have invested 25 years of your life is much like a Captain of a ship choosing to take a new route just because the old one has become predictable.’

I could have argued that line to a win, but it was his next that had been a clincher.

‘Is the Captain free to indulge in adventure when he has passengers on board who have reposed blind faith in him?’

Now that’s the kind of emotional stuff that breaks your knees. I was down for the count, when I had heard the most powerful counterpoint I’ve ever heard on this subject.

‘Life is not a passenger ship. Neither are you a Captain. Life is a waterscooter on surf, off Pattaya. No passengers. Your family’s on the shore cheering you with camera in hand, as you scream and shout in a heady cocktail of fear, nervousness and excitement. When you hit the rough and go for a big tumble into the sea yelling, remember, that’s what will bring on the most laughs and hugs whenever all of you watch its home video- even years from now.’

Some arguments compel instant verdicts. This was one such. Any guesses who delivered that?

My Inner Voice. You might have forgotten it, I haven’t. I can’t. Not a day passes without me missing it. More so two days ago, when almost all of you responded to my call for action post. Thank you for that. My memory list of names and numbers is now almost done.

It might be easy to get over the loss of a phone, but not of your Inner Voice. No great advertising line can bring it back. Advertising has its limitations. Its skills too have their limitations. I’m discovering it the hard way.

Walking into a plush conference room full of strangers, and delivering a pitch perfected to meet their brief is no big deal because corporates are uniformly corporate all over the world. But walking into a filmi office for a one-on-one is a traumatic experience- no one guy is like the other. In the course of one meeting they change personalities like heroines shed clothes in an item number. Preserving the best (in this case, the worst) for the last.

‘But Rameshbhai, why can’t we write something like a Sholay, Yadon Ki Baraat, Deewar or Amar Akbar, Anthony?’ they ask at the end of a my nervous narration.

How do you answer that? How do you tell them that classics work only as classics today? They can’t be your next release. Dacoits terrorising an entire village can at best be only a spoof today. Dacoits have long graduated to smugglers, smugglers to gangsters, gangsters to dons, dons to terrorists and terrorists to robots.

Would teenagers today sit through a film where brothers get separated at a mela? Or at a railway station where one goes in search of drinking water?

Come on! In the age of cellphones, getting lost is next to impossible. Today in a mela, you are more likely to lose your phone than a brother, even if you wish it were the other way around. And even if brothers do get lost, everyone knows where to look for each other. At the gamezone or at the McDonald’s outlet, of course.

Packaged water and no-smoking stations have made getting down at obscure stations unnecessary. Taking the train is often a bigger horror plot than missing the train.

Tattoos like Mera baap chor hai don’t call for a 2-hour revenge drama anymore. On the contrary, tattoos and father-bashing are in. Teenagers would think its cool. They’d probably suggest something like: Mera baap ek bore hai or I’m mera baap’s paap.

The under-30 filmi guys’ questions are a little different, but as impossible. ‘You are from South, na? Why don’t you write some South-Indian like action film?’

How do you write a Tamil punch or a Telugu somersault? I don’t know.

It is when I walk out of such meetings without any answers that I miss my Inner Voice the most. But I don’t let that drop my chin. Instead, I scream, shout and make faces and pretend that all this is one big adventure, in the hope that it would one day make for great home video viewing.

Only problem is I can’t see anyone with a Handycam anywhere. And when I ask my family about it, they say matter-of-factly, ‘Oh, we’re sure there’ll be a next time.’

Such unshakeable faith.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by kumar ganesan on November 15, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    The last time I told my son that I’m going to quit work, sit at home and try my hand writing hindi films, he warned me that he will have a tatoo on his forearm saying, “Mera Baap Kaamchor hai”. The next day I left for office two hours earlier than schedule. Sigh!


    • It’s time we, the dads of the world, unite against our kids. Give us our space to be ourselves! Give us freedom to be what we want to be! Allow us to blossom! Long Live DADDY (Dads Against Dictating Demanding Youngsters) 🙂


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