|Silvers of the year
PIYUSH PANDEY, 51
In Harmony's Hotlist for selling India to the world
Pandey cured the colonial hangover of the ad industry and made the Indian idiom cool
"Arre maasi!" That's how Piyush Pandey reportedly hailed a French waitress at a swank eatery in Cannes a couple of years ago. It's unconfirmed — but probably true. After all, such gulli-danda exuberance is what you expect from the man who cured the colonial hangover of the advertising industry and made the Indian idiom cool. And he's forced the world to listen. In September 2006, Pandey, executive chairman and national creative director, India and South Asia, of Ogilvy & Mather (O&M), was appointed to the Ogilvy Worldwide Board. In October, he made TIME magazine's list of 'People to Watch in International Business'. The first Asian to be the president of the jury at the Cannes International Advertising Festival (in 2004), Pandey rounded off last year with an invitation to be a judge (for the second time) at the British D&AD Global Awards 2007.
Not bad for a guy from Jaipur who was a professional cricketer and tea-taster before giving advertising a shot. He joined O&M, Mumbai, in the 1980s as a client-servicing executive. But the genie was out of the bottle when he wrote the words Chal meri Luna for a scooter ad and the lyrics of Mile sur mera tumhara. Pandey was shifted to the creative department and hit gold with iconic slogans like Jor laga ke haisha (Fevicol), Kuch khaas hai ham sabhi me (Cadbury's), and Har ghar kuch kehta hai (Asian Paints). Indian ads were finally being made with Indian ideas for Indian sensibilities, bringing back consumer focus to advertising.
This approach, which he calls "common sense", has spawned a new generation of acolytes, apart from winning him over 600 awards. His finest moment, though, was the ad for the Cancer Patients' Association that won gold at Cannes in 2002 — channelling the 'Marlboro man' ads, the visual features a sad cowboy standing next to his fallen horse, a warning on passive smoking. The irony: Pandey is a chain-smoker himself.
—Arati Rajan Menon
CHITRA PALEKAR, 59
In Harmony's Hotlist for coming out of the shadows
Palekar, who has been producer, actor and scriptwriter, finally directed her first film, Maati May
She's proof that dreams can come true at any age, in Technicolor. In 2006, at 59, Chitra Palekar, who has had her finger in every cinematic pie, from producing to scriptwriting, finally took the cake, directing her first film, the critically acclaimed Maati Maay (A Gravekeeper's Tale), a Marathi adaptation of Mahashweta Devi's Baayen.
Palekar has come out of the shadows; her past, including a divorce from Amol Palekar, behind her. "When I read this story, I knew this was the film," says Palekar. "It was lyrical yet hard-hitting." It was also the right time. "I wanted to test my capacity, not just fantasise about what I could do."
Turning fantasy into reality was a labour of love. When funding proved difficult, Palekar decided to go it alone with the help of family and friends. Her old unit members helped in kind with their services. And Nandita Das and Atul Kulkarni willingly agreed to act in the film, which is about how patriarchal society treats a woman who defies social norms. "I became a student learning everything from email to digital editing," says Palekar. "It's a new life for me." Part of this life is reading, watching films and daughter Shalmalee, 34, a professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. Palekar's calendar is already booked for early 2007. She has film festivals to attend in Thailand, the US and Israel before thinking about her next project. "Finally, I feel the urgency of living," she says with a throaty chuckle.
—Arati Rajan Menon