Hormazd Sorabjee writes of his friend, Rohinton Maloo, who tragically lost his life in the recent terrorist attacks
The first time I met Rohinton was on May 11th, 1986. I remember that day (which coincidentally was also his birthday) because it was
my first 'Hill Climb' and Rohinton too was participating in this motor sport club event at Film City. In those days you raced whatever you could get your hands on. Whilst I managed to sneak out my dad's Premier Padmini, Rohinton brought a clapped out Mahindra Jeep for the 2 km sprint up a twisty road. It was like turning up in gumboots for a 100 metre dash.
Of course Rohinton had no chance of winning anything but I couldn't help admire the guts of a guy who wielded a car that made the Tower of Pisa look straight. The point for Rohinton was that this was something new and he had a blast doing it. I was later introduced to him by some common friends and that was the start of a long professional and personal relationship. I had dropped out of college that year to pursue a career in photography and it was Rohinton, then running family-owned Adverts Advertising, who gave me my first break, after we got talking on that hot and sweaty Sunday. I was struck by Rohinton's eagerness to help and encourage a rookie like me and we pretty much hit it off. Working with Rohinton could never be called boring. I remember one assignment for his client TCI which needed a corporate brochure. Rohinton was explaining the shots I had to take and with a dead serious face told me "You have to shoot the chairman in the nude!" He burst out laughing at my popped eyes and dropped jaw and this wacky sense of humour was so typical of him.
I gave up photography when I entered publishing whilst Maloo moved on from his ad agency to bigger things. However, we remained in close touch. I always took his counsel and advice during Haymarket's formative years in India and bounced a lot of ideas off him. In fact, Rohinton was a consultant to Haymarket for a brief period and helped conceive the Autocar Performance Show, one of our prized properties today. Brimming with ideas and passion, he always wanted to explore something new and try his hand wherever he sensed an opportunity. Quite simply, Rohinton embodied the Indian entrepreneurial spirit.
At his heart-wrenching funeral, a lot of us had hoped that the ever resourceful and innovative Rohinton would somehow come out alive. We even bizarrely imagined him making a pitch to the terrorists to handle their marketing with a strategy that didn't involve mass murder. Sadly, terror sees no reason and does not spare even the most brilliant of minds. Rohinton's life was snuffed out on November 26th in the Oberoi Trident whilst at a business dinner. His last moments were probably spent passionately discussing some new marketing initiative. My heart goes out to his parents Baji and Dolly, his wife Nikki and children Nairika and Arshaan.
Hormazd Sorabjee is director, Haymarket SAC Pvt. Ltd.