Street hawker Kallu Kewat songs reflect people’s poet Nazeer Akbarabadi’s style

नज़ीर अकबराबादी दुनिया के पहले एडवरटाइजिंग जिंगल राइटर थे।उन्होंने लगभग हर चीज़ पर नज़्म लिखी है। नज़ीर ऐसे जनकवि थे जिन्हें आप कुछ भी दे दीजिये, वो उसको बेचने के लिए आम जन की जुबान में नज़्म लिख डालते थे।रंगकर्मी, शायर और लेखक हबीब तनवीर ने अपने सबसे यादगार कृति ‘आगरा बाज़ार’ में शायर नज़ीर अकबराबादी की नज़्मों को पहली बार १९५४ में नाट्य रूप में पेश किया था।आगरा के बाज़ार में घोर मंदी छाई हुई थी और कुछ भी नहीं बिक रहा था। वहां एक ककड़ी वाले के दिमाग़ में यह बात आयी कि यदि कोई कवि उसकी ककड़ी के गुणों का बखान कविता में कर दे तो बिक्री ज़रूर बढ़ेगी। वो कई शायरों के पास गया पर कोई भी इस काम के लिए राज़ी नहीं हुआ । अंत में वह शायर नज़ीर साहब के पास पहुंचा। उन्होंने फौरन उसका काम कर दिया। वह नज़ीर की लिखी ककड़ी पर कविता गाता हुआ बाजार में आता है और उसके यहां ग्राहकों की भीड़ लग जाती है। फिर तो लड्डूवाला, तरबूज़ वाला, बाला बेचने वाला, आदि सब एक-एक करके वही करने लगते हैं और देखते ही देखते सारा बाज़ार नज़ीर साहब के गीतों से गूंजने लगता है।
बरसों बाद एक आम भारतीय ने अपने लिखे शब्दों से मुझे जनकवि नज़ीर अकबराबादी की याद दिला दी है। जी हाँ, मैं उस लड्डूवाले की बात कर रहा हूँ जिसने ट्विटर पर हुए वायरल एक वीडियो से हमारा दिल जीत लिया है। नज़ीर साहब की मानवीय शायरी के इर्द-गिर्द बुना गया नाटक आगरा बाजार और बुंदेली कलाकार कल्लू केवट द्वारा लड्डू बेचने के लिए लिखा हुआ मजेदार गीत दोनों ही दिल को छू लेते हैं । कल्लू केवट का अंदाज-ए-बयान नज़ीर अकबराबादी साहब से बहुत मिलता-जुलता है। मिलिए कल्लू कलाकार से..

Kallu Kalakar!

The Ad-ventures of Mr B

Actor extraordinaire Manoj Bajpayee has made some exciting choices vis-a-vis brand endorsements. Here’s retracing his journey in the ad world in 2021.

Jameel Gulrays

Padma Shri Manoj Bajpayee’s prolific career has been accentuated with numerous awards for his spectacular performances, and the latest addition is the National Film Award for Best Actor 2019 for his searing portrayal of a retired cop – Ganpat Bhonsle – in Bhonsle

The actor extraordinaire has traversed a long and exciting journey across the medium, from television to films, and then OTT, navigating his way through each medium with deftness, and in between, he has also made interesting forays in the world of advertising to promote/endorse brands that he can relate and connect. 

“I come from a middle-class rural family, and that’s my biggest identity to date. I proudly wear it as a badge of honour on my sleeves. I was born and brought up in a village, and I have always flaunted being a farmer’s son with immense pride. It is the core of my being, my work and how I choose to do what I do. I am extremely choosy about the brands. The brand has to reflect my identity, and I have to relate to the product/service and connect with the idea that the brand wants me to portray onscreen.”

Manoj Bajpayee, actor

The choices that he has made further endorse his belief on all that matters to a common person – home, finance, farm, and food – and rightly so. Here’s a rundown of the brands he chose to endorse in 2021, and his reasons for doing so.   

House that!

On January 25, the actor surprised his fans and followers by tweeting that he is planning to sell his Bandra home and solicited help in looking for a suitable buyer. 

On the other hand, actor Rajkummar Rao posted something similar – tips on home buying in a new city.

The duo’s posts on social media invited curious reactions from all quarters, and their fun home buying and selling journey ended with the launch of’s campaign, #YahanSearchKhatamKaro, a few days later. The social media posts were activated before the campaign’s launch and worked wonders in creating a favourable buzz around the idea.  

“The campaign has highlighted the integration of technology in the real estate business. The tech-enabled services can make the process simpler and considerably ease the innumerable challenges posed by the pandemic, and reduce the burden for a consumer, be it a home buyer, seller or tenant,” states Bajpayee. The reason for choosing this campaign was his strong belief and backing for technology. “Technology can be a great enabler in any given field, and it is a tool if used wisely can do wonders in making our lives a tad easier,” says the actor.   

The ad featuring actor Manoj Bajpayee on a quest to sell his house and finally find the perfect buyer by listing it on 

Counting on his charisma

In February, Bajpayee chose to associate with Zee Cinema and Tata Capital’s campaign, Heroes Ka Jazba, to honour the sacrifices made by India’s COVID-19 heroes. The campaign was integrated with Tata Capital’s #KarzNahiFarzBhiHai initiative of launching ‘Shubharambh’ loans with lesser EMIs, flexible and higher tenure with eased flexibility. 

“The campaign had topicality and was an apt way to start 2021, with hope, happiness and a promise to help the frontline workers who kept our lives going during the tough times of the pandemic, just like heroes do,” he says, reflecting on his choice. 

The brand endorsement was innovatively pegged around Bajpayee’s 2020 release Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari (playing on Zee5). Together, along with the film festival on Zee Cinema in February, it paralleled Tata Capital’s Count on Us idea. Bajpayee gave his touch to the concept by explaining how, like his character, the pandemic has been weighing us down, and had become ‘Bhari’ in our lives, adding how the Heroes Ka Jazba salutes the real-life heroes. He urged all to rise up like a hero and win against this real-life Mangal (pandemic). “The advertisement personified a promise and heralded optimism, and that’s what was needed to start life afresh back then,” he says.  

Life ki har chunauti ka saamna karne wale heroes ke shubharambh mein unki madad karna humara #KarzNahiFarzBhi hai! Watch Tata Capital presents, Heroes Ka Jazba on Zee Cinema every Saturday night at 8 and begin your hero story again by applying for a Shubharambh Loan today! #CountOnUs 

Fin(e) Take

Bajpayee and actor Priyamani became the face of fintech platform Rupeek’s first integrated advertising campaign early in September. Together, they made the idea of availing a loan against gold an unchallenging idea for the middle-class to pursue. “I know from my own experiences that securing a loan can be a challenge for the middle-class. It has always been an emotionally taxing process. I could see the huge potential that Rupeek’s proposition brought forth. The use of technology-led hassle-free doorstep gold loan offering at the lowest interest rates could very well become a disruptor in this segment,” he emphasises. The claim of offering online gold loans to its customers with minimal documentation and the lowest interest rate of 0.69% per month clicked with Bajpayee. 

The TVC featuring the actors shows them walking in avail gold loan, getting disheartened at the whole process of waiting in long queues, paying high-interest rates and going through the tedious documentation process, leaving them sorely disappointed. “I loved the idea. The advertisement highlights the struggles faced by people in availing gold loans and how the company solves the credit pain. The advertisement is for the common man and woman, who need to take pride in using their gold to access credit in a safe and tension-free manner. I chose the brand because it was a credible idea, and I could relate to the thought,” he adds.  

We know that gold is precious to you. Which is why, when parting with it, you don’t deserve to wait in a long line, and be put through tedious procedures. That’s why Rupeek comes to your doorstep in 30 minutes. With Rupeek, sab kuch ghar baithe baithe ho jayega. That too, at an interest rate as low as 0.69%* per month. Ab se, #SonePeLoanRightFromHome.   

Sowing hope 

In his second outing for the brand, the actor chose to endorse Mahindra’s new Farming as a Service (FaaS) business, Krish-e. For the unversed, his first brand endorsement for the Mahindra Group was for Maha Bolero Pik-Up many moons ago.

The Group recently launched the first digital video commercial for the crop advisory app early in October. It banked heavily on the brand value of Bajpayee as a son of the soil and used his credibility to its advantage by highlighting the unique benefits of the app. The reasons for choosing this brand for endorsement were obvious – a proud farmer’s son and his humble ways of returning the favour. 

Elucidating it further, he says, “Technology is a great enabler. It has changed the landscape of so many sectors, including agriculture, and for good. Farmers can use this app and benefit from the unique combination of expert advisory. The app offers a fertiliser calculator, pesticide spray calculator, digital book of accounts and a diary to maintain the credit and debit details for the farmers. Krish-e has leveraged science and technology to help farmers reduce costs, increase productivity, and ultimately farmers’ income.”  

Krish-e by Mahindra rightly calls itself #ChamatkarNahiYehHaiAvishkar. The agriculture app provides a personalised crop calendar for the farm by leveraging the combination of technology and farming expertise which improves the crop yield for each farmer. Krish-e app provides premium agricultural advisory services for various crops and boosts the crop yield. These Agri advisory services offer a scientific and personalized crop calendar for every farm. Krish-e is the best-in-class agriculture app providing end-to-end crop planning, i.e., land preparation, seed treatment, nutrition, and harvesting. Available in 8 popular Indian languages, this farm app is the preferred technology solution to boost your farm yields.

Business sense

The actor has no qualms in admitting that he has had a fair share of struggle and strife to survive in the world of cinema. “The accolades in India and abroad that celebrate me and my roles is a profoundly humbling experience. Still, I choose to look at all of it objectively and avoid being indulgent,” he says. His cinematic journey is akin to the rigour and persistence required for small and medium businesses (SMBs) to survive and thrive in the post-pandemic world. 

He chose to endorse another fintech FloBiz in October. Capitalising on the brand Bajpayee, the neo-bank for Indian SMBs aims to accelerate its outreach to the SMB sector and promote the adoption of its flagship product, myBillBook, a simple to use GST billing and accounting software. The series of ads under the core theme of #BusinessKoLeSeriously will highlight the power of digital solutions to improve the performance of SMBs and take them on a growth path. “I was impressed, once again, at the power of technology and how small and medium businesses can benefit from it. SMBs are an integral part of our economy, and the pandemic has made it paramount for businesses to go digital. FloBiz’s myBillBook is a dedicated digital tool that has immense potential to change the landscape of SMBs by accelerating its growth in the right direction,” says the actor. 

The brand’s core theme remains #BusinessKoLeSeriously. The witty script has helped the actor explore his sarcastic self to the hilt and use it to his advantage to take the messaging forward.  

Billing sahi na ho to payment collection ek joke ban jata hai! Jaanein kaise kar sakte hain aap sahi billing aur timely collection myBillBook ke sath. Business ko 5X badhane ke liye, myBillBook download karein aur apne business ko digital banayein! Best billing and accounting software for Small & Medium Businesses in India. Agar apne business ko lete hain seriously to abhi download karein myBillBook! 

Food and friends = Fun 

Food has the power to evoke memory, bring people together and transport people to places, and who wouldn’t love that. The actor relived a nostalgic moment with his offscreen friends and co-stars — Pankaj Tripathi and Nawazuddin Siddiqui — while shooting two TV commercials for BL Agro, a leading FMCG company’s signature brand, ‘Bail Kolhu’, mustard oil. The first in the series was about the actors fondly reminiscing their cinematic journey, from their nondescript villages to the city of dreams, and released in May 2021. 

The second one has them recounting the smell that conjures up food memories and shows the camaraderie that Gangs of Wasseypur actors share while feasting on a lavish spread prepared in mustard oil. Khushbu Ka Yaadon Se Rishta remains the tagline and shows how the actors connect with the idea and each other.  

To see these three actors sharing screen space is a truly delectable treat, and who better them to convey the message of the 50-year-old signature brand, which has become a household name over the years, much like the trio.   

Work with pleasure, always

That’s what my boss Murli Manohar Swarup taught me… on how to find the elusive Anand (bliss) in work.

Jameel Gulrays

I lost my mother in 1969, 12 years after my father’s demise. I was all alone in this world with two young brothers. To fend for myself and my siblings, I had joined my father Abid Gulrays’ friend Ayaz Peerbhoy’s Marketing Advertising Associates Pvt. Ltd. while pursuing my studies.
I was working with Murli Manohar Swarup for the Indian languages copy and radio department. Simultaneously, I was also working with the media department as an assistant to M.A. Khan.
On March 12, 1971, Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Rajesh Khanna-Amitabh Bachchan starrer Anand had released. I was, and still am, a movie buff, so I had to watch the film on the first day itself, if not the first day, first show.
That evening, I had booked my ticket for the evening show at Regal and had planned to scoot after calling it a day at work. The theatre was across the road, and the show was to start at 6.15 pm.
Just when I was about to leave office, my boss Murli Manohar Swarup walked up to me and said, “Today, I have got a sudden engagement. Sanforized Ke Mehman’s next episode is scheduled to be recorded at 7.30 pm. Jameel, you will have to go to HMV studio to supervise the recording.”
I replied, “But Sir, I have booked my ticket for the evening show, and I am going to watch Anand.” He was pretty curt in his response. “Either watch a movie or build your career. I leave it to you,” and walked away in a huff, leaving me in a fix. No doubt, I had a difficult choice to make, and quickly because it was already 6 pm. The Hamletian dilemma got the better of me. Whether to be at the Regal theatre or the HMV recording studio was a tough call.

The iconic movie celebrated its 5oth anniversary in March 2021.

I was visibly upset with the sudden change of plan because I felt it was unfair on my boss’ part to assign work, and that too, after office hours. But Mr Swarup was my boss, and come what may, and I had to abide by his impromptu order. I didn’t want to miss my movie, but Mr Swarup’s words were echoing in my ears, loud and clear. “Either watch that movie or build your career.” Finally, I tore my movie ticket and went on to supervise the recording.
I learned to give precedence to business and not mix it with pleasure, but instead work with pleasure.
Such is life and its invaluable lessons. 😊
And to date, work alone gives me Anand (joy), quite literally.

Dr Verghese Kurien: The brightest star of the Milky Way

A trip down memory lane, reminiscing my professional association with the Milkman of India on Amul’s 75th anniversary that also coincides with his centenary year celebration. Truly, it is nothing but ‘pyaar ki meethi bhent’ for someone I deeply admired. 

We are supposedly in a galaxy made up of about 200 billion stars and an all-encompassing halo… Looking back at one of the strongest influences in my life, I cannot but liken this man, who the world calls the ‘Milkman of India’, to this galaxy, ironically also called the Milky Way.

My first encounter with Dr Verghese Kurien, the man behind AMUL, GCMMF, NDDB, IRMA, was almost four decades ago. I first met him as a raw, young advertising man who was introduced to him as the media planner on the account. I knew him as my client. My first encounter with him set the course of what I term as my coming of age in advertising.

Dr Kurien was, what most advertising professionals today may term, a terror. But again, which client isn’t, one may ask? But the terror here was not the one who would yell or scream or misbehave or want one to do stuff his way. In fact, he was just the opposite. A client who called his agency, briefed them, set targets and cordially told them he would meet them a year later… if we met the targets, we continued servicing AMUL; if we did not, he would give us a warm send-off. Now which advertising professional would not find this terrorising… an invisible sword hanging over our heads that reasonably said, meant perform, increase sales and continue on the account. If you fail to meet the marketing goal, EXIT! Clear. Precise. Unarguable. 

When I first met him, I felt I was starting school. Still, after continuously servicing his account for 17 successful years, meeting targets year after year, I felt I had successfully graduated and post-graduated, year-on-year, with honours.

The man was clear in his vision, precise in his method and unarguably accurate in what he believed was good for the farmers. His indefatigable attitude of taking a bull by its horns made sure he successfully took on every challenge thrown up by the white revolution. When the problem of excess milk going to waste surfaced after AMUL successfully harnessed the massive support of milkmen, who contributed directly to the co-operative eliminating middlemen, he started the manufacture of AMUL milk powder. When he saw multinationals successfully market milk chocolates, his next thought was ‘why not AMUL’ and here came Amul Milk Chocolates…

The introduction of AMUL milk chocolates was a chapter in communications by itself. The chocolate went through multiple modifications to suit the 4 Ps of marketing. When it melted in summers due to retailers not having refrigeration to store it, he introduced carton packing to keep the chocolate safe. When it came to fighting out the frequency war in advertising, he, like the dream client he was, quickly took on my media suggestion of running 10-second commercials to every ‘slice of life’ commercial of the leader. 

We re-wrote the way creative worked, by aligning them to adhering to ‘only 10-second commercials’. At one-third of the budget, AMUL Chocolates soon captured the nation’s heart with its ‘A Gift for Someone You Love’ proposition.

Amul Chocolate advertisement.

His journey to make AMUL a head-on competitor, if not a leader in every milk product category, drove him to manufacture condensed milk, a product he felt was not as good as the competitors despite several modifications. But he was relentless in his pursuit of taking the co-operative to heights none of its shareholders could imagine.

Manthan by Shyam Benegal.

The story of the co-operative’s success behind the “Anand Pattern” of dairy development, which today has been adopted all over the country, was captured in the Shyam Benegal movie Manthan. This was the first time in India that a feature film was financed by farmers — the 500,000 farmers of Gujarat, as part of Dr Kurien’s Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation.

In 1994, when the agency where I was working for, Radeus, another co-operative, was surreptitiously sold off to what is now TBWA-Anthem, Dr Kurien withdrew the account stating, “Your agency may be up for sale. My account isn’t.” 

Maybe the man behind India’s most successful co-operative movement felt as cheated as us, that his namesake Kurien, the head of Radeus had committed this breach.

For more than five decades, this ‘Milkman of India’ blazed many trails, taking his dream project to dizzying heights. India is what she is today due to the contributions of great men like Dr Verghese — an engineer who gave up the prospect of a good life and walked into a village to lead India to her glory. Rare is such selflessness, and rarer is the ability to see the largesse such men build, not for themselves but the masses. After struggling and fighting against middlemen and establishing a profitable co-operative, he saw the path he had made slowly obliterated, with none other than his protégés in an uprising against him. Dr Kurien was subject to utmost humiliation, by none other than those who served and were mentored by him, and finally gave up by resigning in 2006.

He, however, continued to stay in Anand, which from an unknown, remote village transformed into an invigorating, recognisable and exemplary speck on the world map. Today, many shall sing his praises, and many of these would be his detractors, who put this great man through ignominy. But like all great men, he too must be laughing all the way, at this farce that will be put up, as a good show, devoid of all sincerity.

I pay my heartfelt tribute to this man, who is as much a reason for my success as my other mentor, his namesake Kurien. My book would not have been what it is if it was not for the experiences I earned from Amul.

As I bid remember my dearest teacher, I cannot but recite this apt couplet, “Woh log humne ek hi shokhi mein kho diye, Paida kiya falak ne jinhe khaak chhan kar”.