Pablo Picasso famously said “ It’s taken me all my life to have the mind of a child’.
And if there’s anybody who exemplified this in all my interactions as an advertising creative director, it is Abhinay Deo.
There is nothing more comforting than sharing an idea with someone and watching their eyes light up with child-like enthusiasm and genuine excitement. I can vividly picture the smile on Abhinay’s face as he leans forward to contribute to an idea and take it to the next level.
Whenever we met up to discuss a script, Abhinay’s first reaction would be ‘Superb!’. Not necessarily because the script was in fact ‘superb’, but because he had already figured out how to interpret the kernel of the idea and make that leap from paper to celluloid.
The famous Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock said that during a jazz performance one’s interaction with other musicians has to be based on the belief that they will send you only ‘good’ notes, which you can then build upon.
Interacting with Abhinay was exactly the same. He would jam with you on the script, building upon your idea, till it became far better than the original. But like a good jazz musician, his inputs were always collaborative and not authoritative; they constantly inspired you to think harder. He created a fun, non-intimidating environment that allowed an easy-flowing jugalbandi of ideas.
It is my one big regret that I didn’t work on more films with Abhinay during my career, but the one film that I worked with him will remain etched in my memory.
It was the memorable TATA AIG ‘Tree’ commercial. Abhinay loved the idea and immediately added a parallel cultural thread that brought fantastic depth to the commercial. The story of a ‘budding’ romance was beautifully interwoven with
India’s progress over decades, symbolized by the Fiat, Maruti 800 and Tata Sierra eras. Great music by Ram Sampath only added to the impact of the final film.
Today, it gives me so much joy to see Abhinay’s success with ‘Delhi Belly’ and his new attempt to raise the standards of Indian Television serials with ‘24’.
Advertising may get less of his time, but Indian audiences will gain immeasurably.
So keep smiling, Abhinay. And may the child in you continue to bring joy and laughter into the lives of all those you touch.