My wife and I were privileged, this weekend gone by, to be invited to the Silver Anniversary of Agnello and Nandini Dias at the Tote-on-the-Turf.
The evening was an extremely elegant affair with the entire advertising and media industry in attendance. The much celebrated ‘Aggy’ Agnello and his equally decorated wife Nandini obviously have a lot of friends and admirers as colleagues and competitors cutting across agencies were there in full strength to toast the most famous couple in Indian advertising.
Prasoon Joshi was there. So was Piyush Pandey. A lot of the Ulka crowd was there. As also many from Lintas as both Aggy and Nandini worked there in the past. Vikram Sakhuja was present. Shashi Sinha was present too. Girish Aggarwal came with his wife. Clients Anuj Jain from Kansai Nerolac and Ajay Kakar of Aditya Birla Group came too.
The highlight of the evening was the toast raised to the couple by advertising veteran Nargis Wadia who was Aggy’s first boss and at whose agency, Interpub, Aggy and Nandini first met 25 years ago. Nargis is extremely well preserved, and articulate, despite her age. Nargis said she loved Aggy for his sense of gratitude: she was the first person he called from Cannes after winning his first ever Cannes award. She said she was proud to have been his boss and mentor. She also remembered fondly how Interpub had given JWT two of its national creative heads: Ivan Arthur and many years later, Agnello Dias. I was touched by the old lady’s speech, especially the bit about gratitude. It is a virtue hard to find in today’s day and age, especially in our business. It tells you therefore even more about Aggy, the man, and perhaps what makes him the superior professional that he is because of a value system worth emulating.
Colvyn Harris made a nice speech. Prasoon spoke. Arvind Sharma spoke. Chax spoke. But it was Sonal Dabral who stole the show playing Rajesh Khanna wooing Sharmila Tagore who in real life to him were none else but Agnello and Nandini! Sonal sang an old Kaka song and brought the entire house down with mirth and laughter. Rajiv Raja on the flute and Subhash Kamath on the vocals also put up a wonderful performance. Brian Tellis played master-of-ceremonies. It sure was a star-studded evening.
The 25-years old groom Agnello was shy and diffident as ever. His speech was short, but witty. He said somehow everybody everywhere wanted to somehow ‘help’ him which he obviously finds strange but is happy to accept! Nandini was sharp and sweet with her ‘thank-yous’. The cake was cut amidst much laughter, confetti and happiness with the two Dias sons completing a happy family picture with their parents. And the bubbly flowed in abundance.
I have never had the good fortune to have ever worked directly with either Agnello or Nandini. I got to know them both just through industry interactions. I do not need to praise them or raise them on a pedestal. But individually, each of them is the best in their profession. He has swept every creative award there is in the world of advertising worldwide. I am told he has a waiting list of clients. I am told he quotes a price for his work that is completely non-negotiable. And yet he is self-effacing; he is quiet; and he is almost a recluse. She is a media fire-brand. She is on umpteen media committees and on every hi-power list of women achievers. She was recently crowned Media CEO of the Year. If there is a more successful couple in advertising, I would be surprised. I like Agnello’s humility. I love Nandini’s affability.
Success goes to the head of most people. Successful couples have actually double the reasons. Thankfully, the Dias couple are a welcome exception. Successful. Graceful. Humble. Rooted. Well-liked. Admired. Toasted.
(Sandeep Goyal covers everything to do with advertising and media in his weekly blog in Campaign India. Including successful couples.)