Mediaah!: RIP, Bal Mundkur

09 Jan,2012

By Pradyuman Maheshwari


I was sad to learn of Bal Mundkur’s passing on Saturday. I got in touch with Mundkur thanks to my colleague Vidya Heble (her tribute @).

We were doing a cover feature on 50 years of Ulka for Impact, and while we had interviewed the new captains, we couldn’t have done the story without speaking to the man who started it all: Bal Mundkur.


Vidya and Rishi Vora met him for the story and since we didn’t get him photographed here in Mumbai, I asked former colleague and editor of O Herald O in Goa Sujay Gupta to do a quid pro quo. We would give him the story and he gets us the pictures. Mundkur wasn’t too happy with the story appearing in the Herald, I figured later.


He had wanted to speak to me about the book project that he had undertaken. He also wanted to subscribe to Impact, and sent in a cheque for the subscription as well as wanted some 20 copies of the issue that carried the article.


We would’ve done it without the cheque, but Mundkur insisted.

Speaking to him on phone meant investing at least half an hour, because you had to hear him out and convince him about what your point of view.


I met him on a Saturday morning at the Orchid. He gave me his room number a week in advance, and the first question I asked him when I met him was how did he know which room he was going to be in. “Because, young man, this is my room,” he said. And he then regaled with me with a countless stories, each of which threw light on a different facet of his personality.


On how we was a naval officer, an aviator, a music enthusiast… how he got into advertising, his pet peeves and the projects back in Goa. I spent some three hours with him. Possibly three-and-a-half. I could’ve spent an entire day soaking in the old stories. But there was a lunch to be at and Mundkur too had a meeting to head to.


The room at Orchid (near the domestic terminal of Mumbai airport) was given to him by hotelier Vithal Kamat who Mundkur said he had helped financially ages ago (note: info not verified).


He spoke about his book, and how it was meant to be a volume on Ulka. But he firmly believed that no such historical account could go without talking of the other greats of the time (note: info not verified). He insisted on it and chose to get on to the Ad Katha project and finally succeeded in launching it at Ad Asia.


I didn’t really stay in touch with him, though tried calling him after his book Ad Katha’s release. I also wanted to speak to him about MxM and seek his blessings.


I also wanted a personally autographed copy of the book. I guess I’ll never get that. I am happy of course that I could spend some time with him.

Perhaps we should request Vidya to write a biography on the great man. Am sure it will be an uputdownable account.


Amartya Sen on what’s wrong with the Indian media

Nobel laureate and Bharat Ratna Amartya Sen writes a loooong 2000-plus-word review of the Indian media and what’s wrong with it (@


The last para of the piece sums up his argument:

If the first problem I referred to, that of accuracy, is one of improving the performance of the news media through better quality control, the second, transcending class bias, concerns the media’s role in reporting and discussing the problems of the country in a balanced way. The media can greatly help in the functioning of Indian democracy and the search for a better route to progress including all the people – and not just the more fortunate part of Indian society. What is central to the functioning of the news media in Indian democracy is the combination of accuracy with the avoidance of bias. The two problems, thus, complement each other.


It took me a second read to get a grip on what he was trying to say.

While being told about the inaccurate reportage is embarrassing, I don’t agree with his second view on class bias. More on that some other day… you don’t want another 2000 words on the issue, do you?


Vij is back at afaqs

Guess we know why only afaqs carries the story about Sandeep Vij, co-founder of, quitting DDB Mudra. He is all set to do so, the story informs. And where’s he going? Well, to get back to Banyan Netfaqs! Private Limited (BNPL) which runs! and The Mobile Indian. “He plans to help usher BNPL into its next phase of growth in the online media space,” the report says.


Should we be getting worried?


Buzz me if you have a story to tell and gossip to share. Confidentiality assured. Andar ki baat will stay under. There are various ways you can reach me: pradyumanm[at], BBM @ 23050B5D, Whatsapp/Gtalk pradyumanm[at], @pmahesh, 98338 76278.


Disclaimer: Although Pradyuman Maheshwari is CEO of MxMIndia other than being editor-in-chief, he chucks those hats while writing Mediaah! So, the views expressed here are entirely his own and not those of the website and the team that runs it (especially the National Sales Head!).


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