No one is more fascinated by advertising people than advertising people. Their extra-curricular efforts have often been hypnotically self-referential. Until 'Mad Men' came along, and turned retro advertising drama into mass entertainment. Sujit Sanyal may not be quite as handsome as Jon Hamm, but his memoirs are a successful foray into the same genre or subculture, as the case may be.
Mr Sanyal was active in Calcutta in the seventies and eighties, although given the pace of life, both in advertising, and in the city, active may be a bit of an exaggeration. He was a decent old buffer, evidently, and his reminiscing has a gentle cheerfulness which is hard to resist. While the seventies are not as far back as the fifties, it was still a very different time. Most people wore HMT watches, and television was full of documentaries on fertilizer, and wall-to-wall Indira Gandhi. So this book has an archaeological quality to it. It takes you back to an era when lunches were long, unions were active, and a man was almost entirely measured by his capacity to hold his drink. I say man because there are very few women in it, although Tara Sinha does rampage in and out occasionally.
Mr Sanyal dips into bits and pieces of his entire career, from the point where he was a virgin intern, to the present day, when he is more or less chilling. He introduces us to some extremely interesting people along the way. Most of
11:56 AM, May 03, 2012