This week's Adland Rockstar is Prajato Guha Thakurta, creative consultant, Mudra.
How did you get into advertising?
I got into advertising by chance. My father, a creative director himself, was in JWT for 40 years. So I used to see him work regularly on print campaigns. I remember seeing him designing a campaign for Gold Flake where he was drawing out those tobacco beans individually. A week later, I saw a hoarding of the same. So the whole thing happened in front of my eyes and that was quite an experience. But I never thought I’d take it up. When I was in college at Jadavpur University, life was easy, there wasn’t much to do and my father suggested I drop in at Bates for an interview. So I went there, started in servicing and switched to creative within a week. I trained there for sometime, came to Symbiosis (Pune) for a course in advertising and then later joined McCann Erickson Mumbai. I was there for over four years, got married and joined Mudra.
What were your first few days in advertising like?
In my first week in advertising, where I was in my client servicing profile, an account director told me there was some etching that needed to be done on glass and therefore asked me to go find some pieces of glass. So I had to run around and meet these glass makers, and it was terrible in the summer heat of Calcutta. So I came back, I couldn’t pull it off and I got a firing for that. I realised that I'm not meant to be working like this, it just wasn't happening. I went to a creative director there and asked him to take a copy test.
Which was the first ad you worked on?
It was a print ad for this restaurant called Fillers in Southern Avenue, Calcutta, which would wish readers for the New Year. So it was to be released in The Telegraph and saying ‘Happy New Year’ and the idea was that some letters would be missing – that’s how we made a connect with the title ‘Fillers’. I didn’t sleep the night before it released and I woke up next morning, saw it and it was the happiest day of my life. Which is exactly why, I’m here in advertising today. That thrill is still there. Dad was happy too, since it was my first ad and more so because he thought I was doing something worthwhile. In Jadavpur University, I was a waste, really. (laughs)
What is one thing you like about your job?
I enjoy the thrill of seeing my work when I open the newspaper in the morning and on hoardings, on television. Every day is a new day. You don’t know what you’re getting into, how your day will pan out, it’s good and bad, but it’s exciting. There are new people I get to meet and new clients to work with. So it’s fascinating.
What is one thing you don’t like about your job?
My wife, who is a lawyer, points out that if you look at the kind of arsenal we have at our disposal as an advertising community, we’re extremely short sighted – we don’t give back to the society. There is a lot we can do – and she’s right – we can use all kinds of media to do it, but we’re always thinking about the next 60 cc ad or the next 30-second TVC, or the next Cannes Gold. And even when we decide to give back – by doing work on some NGO – we’re thinking of ‘December advertising’.
How do you cheer yourself up on a bad day?
In McCann, I used to play CounterStrike. In Mudra, I haven’t installed the game yet. Nothing like a game of CounterStrike to cheer you up!
One person in advertising you’d like to have dinner with?
David Droga, for the kickass work that he is doing. And the beauty is that he’s not stuck to traditional advertising, he’s not limited by it. He’s the solutions guy.
One person outside advertising you’d like to have dinner with?
If PG Wodehouse was alive, I’d have had dinner with him. He’s one of my all-time favourites.
Who are your other favourite others?
Apart from Wodehouse, I like Graham Greene. I read a lot of poetry – T S Elliott is my all time favourite. I also enjoyed reading Enid Blyton's novels.
Any favourite books?
Anything by Wodehouse. I also love the Asterix series. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon is another favourite. I read all kinds of books. Currently I’m reading a lot of Indian authors.
Your favourite films?
The Shawshank Redemption. I can watch that film over and over again. What a screenplay! I also enjoy a lot of Majid Majidi films, besides all the Disney-Pixar films.
Three things you'd want with you if you were stuck on a deserted island?
Lot of books, my piano and good food (laughs). I’m a Bengali, at the end of the day; I need my share of good food. Actually, even a barbecue would do.
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