Prahlad Kakkar Speaks

Prahlad Kakkar

An aggressive corporate – ad guru, gastronome and restaurateur, cigar connoisseur, scuba diver, globe trotter or a celebrity who has become a ‘page three’ phenomenon, call him what you want, but the fact remains that he is the brain behind many of India’s most memorable ad campaigns. Here he is, in candid conversation…

PK: The Scholars’ Avenue – is it one of those underground campus newspapers? Like the one in IIT-B?

TSA: No Sir, we are overboard! The Scholars’ Avenue is the campus newsletter, for students and faculty alike.

PK: Oh! In St. Xavier’s, they had this team of enthusiasts who went to print with the most honest of critical reviews (of classes) by the least obedient of students. They would drop stacks from the tower, littering the basketball court with paper! It weren’t just the students hopping to grab these floating fiascos, the fathers would join in as well, equally eager (read ‘anxious’) to see how they were featured! It was a couple of years before the racket was finally busted. I got all this low-down from my employee, a dropout from Xavier’s

TSA: Sir, as we understand, most of your employees are drop-outs?

PK: Most? All! I got a gang of conmen working under me, just short of hiring a murderer or a rapist!

TSA: What about your employees from film-schools and acting institutes?

PK: They are dropouts as well. Parents were bugging them to earn a living, so they joined the army barracks. However, after hours of jogging with rifles on your shoulders, they decided ‘acting’ was a better alternative.

TSA: Sir, how did you get started with advertising? Could you elaborate on the humble beginning?

PK: It was a pleasant afternoon. I was walking past an office. People were lunching on the lawn outside this bungalow. Then, I notice these nice pair of legs in a mini-skirt, the best I have seen in a while. I walk inside, approach her and strike a conversation with ‘I want to join this company’. Amused, she looks at me and says, ‘Do you even know what we do?’. I replied, ‘I don’t care any longer’.

TSA: You are one of the most successful directors in the ad-genre of filmmaking. What would you personally hold as the most distinguishing trait in a good director?

PK: It’s all about visualizing the script when you read it. Direction is like vocabulary, finding the right words, apt under the circumstances. What makes a good director is his ability to see it all in his head. If you can’t see it, you are blind. Then you do what you do for either bucks or reference.

TSA: Your favourite advertisements, apart from your own.

PK: Would be the Nike one – the advertisement was beyond just creativity. On paper, the concept’s just too chaotic … a boisterous mob in a traffic jam with a bunch of opportunists seizing the moment with some cranky cricketing fervour! Really can’t imagine how the company trusted the ad-designer with this one! Great ads aren’t just about good directors but clients who have confidence in their copyrighters. Most of the leading copyrighters I know have all been IITians.

Another advertisement worth mention would be the Happy Dent one. To imagine that long long ago, when was no electricity, the only source of illumination in the small town was a guy who ate Happy Dent White.  Now that’s a great fantasy. After all, advertising is all about tapping your dreams.

TSA: Ads apart, Prahlad Kakkar is cigars and scuba diving. You own a cigar factory and an island for scuba-diving. How did you get started on these business ventures?

PK: I preferred cigars to cigarettes. But then, cigars were too expensive, a Cuban cigar costs me $ 15 when I could manufacture equally good Cigars in the Philippines for a couple of dollars! So, the idea was not to make money but to smoke cigars for free. People say I am rich, just because I own an island for my scuba-diving sport! The annual lease for the island just over a lakh rupees!

TSA: If you had to describe yourself in a word or a line…

PK: When I was in college, I had three girl-friends at a time. I would juggle them around. In fact, those days, I needed to maintain a notebook to jot the dates down, just to make sure I don’t mess with the names and places! It was all going smooth till one evening, the three of them independently turned up at the same party! I was cornered and that night, I lost the three of them in one shot and I had this ‘rotten’ tag tailing me. It was then I decided that regardless of what they say, I shall say the truth. I am bluntly honest.

1 Comment

  1. Avinash D Deshpande says:

    Canada, 15 Oct 2009

    Take this from an old IIT KGP hand. “Scholars Avenue” is really known as “Goonks’ Avenue”. These presumptious idiots should know their origins. One dark, deep night the great IIT scholar Farouk Baxter, dissatisfied with this stupid, presumptious name, spent many hours of labour and had the street sign ready for the morning as idiot after idiot drove on their bikes past the sign. All in agreement. Appropriate name.


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