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An ad guru speaks...

A legend in advertising who also tried his hand at film making, runs a scuba diving school and a coffee shop... Meet Prahlad Kakkar, who was in the city recently.


"LIVE LIFE the way you think fit. Don't let others decide how you want to do things. Women are such strong beings. In fact, my office runs effectively only because it is full of women!"

Very kind words indeed, hopefully ones that should make women feel flattered, coming as it did from a man who is quite a legend in the advertising world. (the famous Pepsi ad with Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar for starters). Of course, it's besides the point if women want this sort of an endorsement in the first place! But then if you are at a meeting where there were only women, it probably makes sense to say them!

This is not to say that he didn't mean a word of it! The Elle'ments, as part of its regular activities, presented him at the Taj Ballroom on November 28.

The man being Prahlad Kakkar — zany and a person who has been lucky to be doing things he's wanted to — making highly successful ad films, running a scuba diving school in one of the Lakshadweep islands, trying his hand at running a coffee house in Juhu, Mumbai, and... even trying to make a blue film!

By all standards a successful man, that too when as a child he was termed dyslexic!

Kakkar had the women tittering and enjoying his brand of humour, which ranged from orgasms to why he took up his first ad assignment so many years ago. If it must be told its because he was taken up by the beautiful secretary the company had, and that's how. "There is much more to advertising than work," he says. "Its fun, challenging and well more fun." The Prithvi Café that he started 19 years ago was a place where he could meet all his friends.

"Everybody came there to meet me and I would go there after office hours. It was a great way of getting everybody together. I can never have too much fun... there is always place for more!" Film-making to him was and is a dream. It was when a French company approached him to make a soft porn film that he found that it would be interesting to try it out. Since he couldn't find anyone who would do it, he cast his friends.

"Men think they are great performers, but then they are actually limited. It's only when you do something like this that you realise there is much more to sex than just the missionary position." Scuba diving came about when he found he had to get over his phobia for water. He found that being under water helped him get over that and that's how the school came about. A visit to the Lakshadweep Islands motivated him and after persuading the Indian Government quite a bit, he could start the school.

"All the government needs is to know that there is big money to be made," he says with a chuckle. "And you know what, 500 divers passed out of the school, most of them women. Women are more aero-dynamically created to be better divers," he theorises.

"Women have to fight their battles in an essentially man's world, for which they need to do it not very overtly. As long as you give the man the credit, he is happy and women can go about achieving, without much ado."

Women are very good at crisis management. "It's a very special ability they have," he adds. Women can do a tough job very well and a female model gets twice as much as a male one. "Money is power... if you have money, independence, confidence anything can be managed."

With these words of comfort to the women present, the floor was thrown open for questions, which ranged from exploiting women in advertisements to celebrities endorsing products — responsibly or otherwise.

When asked whether he would do ads which just promote a product, like Fair And Lovely or Lalithaji (for which he was so full of disdain), he says, "No. I don't do ads where I don't believe in the product." Ah! But you couldn't have got to this point if you didn't? "Well I don't do them now."

Now that he is so successful, he can do things on his own terms! "Pleasure is permanent — money is temporary, maybe this wisdom comes with age and strongly advocates that one must believe in what does."

Axioms that have made him what he is today. That's Prahlad Kakkar for you!

CHITRA MAHESH

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