Mudra Delhi in the late 80s was THE place to be in the Capital for advertising. It was young, red hot and raring to go. I remember landing there as a management trainee on a cold wintry morning in January of 1989 to be greeted by a warm bunch of folks who soon became family. One of those family members was Atulit, who till today remains as close as one.
Atulit was quintessentially Mudra—Grounded, Indian, Real. As a part of internal branding we had these motivational posters all over the office…
Excellence without Arrogance,
If you can dream it, you can do it
Where success is a process, not an event…
As I look back, I find an uncanny similarity between what Mudra was trying to be and what Atulit already was. Maybe that is why he was there to begin with—to be a role model for future employees and clients
Our friendship started almost immediately but I got to know him really well when Santosh(Desai) got both of us to join him in setting up Account Planning in 1992. Through all the pitches and new business wins, briefing and creative brainstorms and celebrations over awards, I got some unique insights into him which I am happy to share. I can write reams on him but for today, there are three things I would like to focus on!
At the top of the heap, he is a planner at heart—relentlessly focused on insights and ideas. I remember his passion for a campaign for the Ambassador car, which went on to become a much awarded brand. Not only did he spend late nights brainstorming and ideating with the creative team, he also spent hours in the sun near Chandni Chowk helping the photographer get the perfect shot from the bridge. He was that kind of a guy—seamlessly transitioning from idea to execution and given it all in the process. Yet, he would be self effacing to a fault and you would never hear of him when the credits were awarded.
Next, he is the ultimate team player. He has a natural passion for finding the right solution for a brand and it never mattered that it was not his own one. There were numerous occasions when he would just be around to help people think through the brief or even sit and ideate with creatives even when he could have spent the time on his own brands or even better, with his family. His selfless mindset would set him apart from most of his peers.
He defies stereotyping. On the face of it, he might appear to be an introvert but then you throw him in a party with 70’s Bollywood and he will beat you hollow on the dance floor. He might appear very organized and process driven but has this ability to go with the flow and improvise till the very end, all the time looking for that added bit of magic that could make the insight come alive with a little more “aha” and in the process make the great even more awesome! He is very rational at one level and yet imbued with a strong sense of intuition that loves to take leaps of faith. He shepherded many brands with disruptive ideas and campaigns and over the years built a reputation as someone whose passion is taking brands to the next level of prominence.
It’s been more than 28 years since I first met him and even now whenever we meet, there is the same genuine warmth, the same comforting hug and the same twinkle in the eye as he asks… "Kaisa hai?”
Atulit reminds me most of one of the many posters we used to have in Mudra. Substance and Style. But with a difference. I would call it Substance IS Style…that is what Atul, as many fondly call him, stood for in the 80s and like any strong brand has stayed true to that in all these years as he has gone on to do much bigger things in life.
Keep rocking tiger, you are one of a kind!