Pics: Akshata Shetty
Daijiworld Media Network - Udupi (HB)
Udupi, Mar 14: 'Ad Guru' Prahlad Kakkar is a name that does not need introduction. An eminent and leading Indian ad filmmaker with a career spanning over four decades, he is the person who gave India some of its best ads. He is the founder and director of Genesis Film productions, established in 1977, which over the years has produced immensely popular ads for Pepsi ('Yeh hi right choice baby', 'Yeh dil maange more', 'Mera number kab ayega', 'Nothing official about it' featuring India's top celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Kajol and Sachin Tendulkar), the melodious 'ECE bulb lana', 'Gold Spot the Zing Thing', Maggie tomato sauce (Enjoy the difference) and many more.
Besides, he loves scuba diving and has set up 'Lacadives', a scuba diving school with his wife Mitali Kakkar at Kadmat Island in collaboration with the government of Lakshadweep. He also monitors a coffee shop and Casa Amore, a wine bar and restaurant set up in Mumbai.
Kakkar joined advertising in 1971 as an accounts executive at ASP Delhi. He then got transferred to Mumbai (then Bombay) office. He worked under renowned film director Shyam Benagal as an assistant director in 1972. He was also trained under Mandeep Kakkar and Ravi Uppor.
In an exclusive interview to daijiworld during his recent visit to Manipal, he dwelled on various aspects of advertising.
DW: With so many products coming into the market everyday, the scope for advertising has increased. How tough or challenging has advertising become today?
Kakkar: It is really tough and very challenging. A professional always thinks that he should be among the top five persons in his profession. But there is lots of space and individuals should always aim for the top, not for middle or bottom of the space. Suppose he is going into recession, first he should go seeking an advertisement, and there are hundreds of young producers and directors in the sector. If you want job in Ads, you should be on top of the ladder. It is difficult to be among the top five but strong will and self belief together with thinking out of the box can lead you to success.
DW: There is an allegation that in many ads women are objectified. What is your opinion on this?
Kakkar: Yes, they are portrayed as sex objects. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. The point is today people are getting very sensitive, especially women. People are the best judges of ads. Government should enact punishment if women are portrayed as objects in ads. When punishment is given to ad directors for portraying women as sex objects then surely people will stop buying that product. Now people spend hundreds of crores to put a factory made product in market and shops. If the product offends a woman, just stop buying the product. If you offend your consumers, you should be ready to pay the price. This way, ad directors will have to stop using women as objects in ads. If a woman is offended, just make sure that nobody values the product.
DW: Can you share some of your experiences in the advertising field?
Kakkar: No, it will take hours to explain. There is no brief at all. It has a beginning, lots of middle and end is not yet end, it is continuous. I have experienced many tough problems. Every ad film has its own issues; every assignment has its own dynamics. Every client expects us to make brilliant films. They think of their reputation. If you have seen Pepsi film which says 'Muje be aisa hi chahiye', it is the outcome of hard work. The point is that the directors have their demand and many lines have to be scripted and finally they choose. The most important thing is that these directors have to trust the team and creative people and also their target group. The clients for whom I have worked are T T Jagannathan from TTK Group of industries, Dr Kurian from Amul, Sunil Alagh from Britania, Vibha Rishi from Pepsi. These people have actually trusted me and that is the reason of my success.
DW: What was the turning point in your life?
Kakkar: Well...the time I met my wife, that was the turning point of my life. I have lived with her for 30 long years.
DW: Do you think there are advertisements that mislead people?
Kakkar: If you think it is misleading, first people should complaint about it to Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), which is a self-regulated body for advertisements. It will take 15 days of time to examine the film and say whether it is misleading people. If it finds that the particular ad is truly misleading, then the team concerned will be warned. Nevertheless, nobody is complaining these days.
DW: What are the differences in advertising in olden days and now?
Kakkar: Both are same. Everybody wants to tell the story about their product. Presentations are also same.
DW: When you narrate a new advertising script, what are the points you keep in mind?
Kakkar: When you bring up a child, you want to have some qualities in it. Every brand is like a child. First have a name and upon that you have want quality in brand which people would want to own, whether it is honesty, compassion, courage, kindness. When the brand grows up the child also grows. I try to give the right values. Brand value is important. So you create a brand value and give it to people. Ad values are part of advertisement campaign. So brand is not an object. A brand must be treated as a person. That is how a child grows up all the way.
DW: What role do ads play in changing society or people's mindsets?
Kakkar: Well... Advertisements do not want to change society. They want to mirror the society. Advertisements always claim to mirror the society in which people live. When a person sees himself in the mirror, if he does not like that, he tries to change it. There are lots of things that advertisements show which are not so nice, about the way of treating children, women and elder people. If that brings little embarrassment and shame, give them information that it must change. Today clients like TATA, Idea Cellular are actually doing ads to bring changes in society. There is an ad says that second marriage is good especially when the older woman is getting married and she has a child already. It is not an issue if the ad talks about caste, creed, colour, ideas and education. It changes people’s perception about these issues. Some election campaign ads have really worked in bringing social changes.
DW: What are your future plans?
Kakkar: I am planning to start a college for entrepreneurs from my own experiences. It would be a college that teaches all about dealing with fear. With fear one cannot be a good entrepreneur.
DW: You believe in luck, God or hard work?
Kakkar: I believe in Karma. We have to work hard to create something. Karma is our memory of what we have done. One cannot live without memories. But one has to create his Karma (work). One has to believe in self. Journey is within us and to discover ourselves we need not look outside.
DW: What message would you like to give to youngsters?
Kakkar: Just dream, live in your dream, come out from fear. Do not worry about job description. Only an artiste can believe in another artiste. Today everybody can get whatever they want, but do your best.
DW: You are also a chef. What is your favorite dish?
Kakkar: (Laughs) it depends on the pretty girl who is talking to me and her taste. I will try to impress her by making her favorite dishes.