It's been an emotional morning. Anant Rangaswami, the founding editor of Campaign India, and the person who hired me as an intern (or editorial assistant as was my designation at the time) has passed away.
It's a great loss to the industry. Even though Anant had moved to Bengaluru and wasn't attending industry events in the pandemic months, his no-nonsense voice was something the industry (legends and newbies) turned to for approval. Be it: campaigns, leaving agencies to forming new ones, and why Indian Post is the best service in the world.
My first interaction with Anant was in April 2009. I was a student in an advertising and marketing course at EMDI and Anant was a guest lecturer.
I answered two questions during his lecture (one about why Liverpool FC couldn't wear the Carlsberg branded jersey while playing in France, and whether Wimbledon should do away with its all-white attire). Four months later I got a call from the team at EMDI who asked me if I'd like to intern for a magazine called Campaign India and shared Anant's number with me.
I was interested and called Anant and fixed up a time. The next morning, I called him about half an hour before the interview to get directions to the old Haymarket office in Lower Parel. He told me to find my way and be there on time. For a person who was interviewing for a job (albeit an internship) for the first time, it made me feel I'm going to have the toughest of bosses.
Anant met me at the promised time. He asked me two-three questions and told me to join the team on 1 October.
I did. I was supposed to be on a three-month internship, but I stuck around.
In the next 21 months, I accompanied him down for many a smoke and tea breaks to discuss - Liverpool FC (a common love), advertising, cricket, and so much more.
Here are some of the things Anant taught me during the time:
Be on time and respect it: If you've committed to something, plan your day accordingly, and it's only those who aren't important enough in the system, who are late.
Read: He got into the office early (earlier than most) and read voraciously plus solved three crosswords.
If you're not happy in your professional life, you can't be happy in your personal life, so take holidays (at the right time) and ask for a salary hike if you believe you deserve it.
Don't sit in the office and fritter time. If you're done with your work, leave: I distinctly remember one Friday experience. It was the week in which we had gone to print so we were relatively free (we used to publish the print copy of Campaign India every alternate Tuesday). I used to get into the office by 11:00 am (after attending college). At 3:30 pm, he saw me doing nothing. He walked towards me. I thought it was time to make myself look busy. But Anant being Anant, you couldn't fool him. He came to my desk and told me to leave. I was confused. "Go on, it's Friday, go grab a drink or three," he said. I told him I had no plans. That's the first evening, I had a drink with him and it was certainly more than three!
In February this year, I sent him a picture of a print dummy of the pilot copy we created for FourFourTwo India. Little did I know it would be my last interaction.
Rest well Anant sir!
While we try doing what you asked us to: Be good, take care and have fun!
(The author is managing editor, Campaign India. For those who want to pen a tribute for Anant, write to firstname.lastname@example.org)