So what do you do, Pops?

23 Aug,2017


As K V Sridhar’s ’30 Second Thrillers’ releases today, we carry a first-person account on how the advent of TVCs made it easier for him to explain what he does for a living


By K V Sridhar ‘Pops’


My love for conversations is undying; it only grows with every passing one. I love conversing because with it comes the opportunity to observe and meet an insight. For fifty eight years

of my life and close to four decades of my career, I have beenladen with conversations, each of which have had somethinginteresting to offer. Through all these million conversations,

the most common question has been, ‘So what do you do?’ aquestion that has become more of a human reflex. I have beenasked this question on train journeys, at social dos and even atweddings. I am sure it holds true for you too.

Before the 1980s, whenever I was asked, ‘So what do you do?’I used to be in a fix, because with this question, came the toughtask of explaining what a Creative Director does in advertising,alongside explaining what advertising is. But in the early 1980s,the magic box – the television set made my job easy. As televisionbecame popular and colour television a rage, advertisements also

began to get entertaining. Elements like music, stories and funwere woven in some seconds and presented to the audience. Withthese little doses of entertainment, people started connecting

with the products. The face of ads had changed. No longerwere they propaganda; simply pushing the product down theaudience’s throat. Now, they were emotionally sliced momentsof life that resonated with people.

So what changed with this? People and their perception ofads did. Love began to foster between the viewers and the ads.

Soon, people started finding favourites. Every time they wereaired, people savoured them with the same enthusiasm overand over again. The jingles soon started getting hummableand the wisecracks increasingly quotable. The music soonbecame a subconscious tune in people’s heads. The actors inthe ads became their friends. This is why ‘Lalitaji’s’ advicewas valued, why people bonded over ‘Mile sur mera tumhara’,why friendships were formed over ‘Hamara Bajaj’. Because

ads were now a reflection of life!

And this emotional connect made my life easy. For now,whenever I was asked, ‘So what do you do?’, all I had to do,was to refer to one of my popular ads, from ‘Wah Taj’ inthose days to ‘Thums Up’ today. As soon as Isaid, ‘Have you seen the Wah Taj ad with ZakirHussain in it?’ or ‘Have youseen the Thums Up ad withSalman?’ The answer is usually an enthusiastic ‘Yes!’ Faceslight up or a spark flickers in the listener’s eyes, as soon as Isimply state that I have been a part of them. Then, a suddeninquisitiveness is what takes over. A series of questions areasked, each of them with the intent of knowing what happensbehind the scenes.

‘Zakir Hussain is amazing, have you spoken to him?’ ‘Howis Salman during the shoot?’ ‘Are those stunts for real?’ Forthem, I become a key to a magical world. They want me to tellthem anecdotes, instances and challenges. They want me toshare, as to how something they so muchlove is made.

The love hasn’t worn off with time, it has only grown. Eventoday, we see the insane love for Zoo-Zoos, and have adaptedCadbury Dairy Milk as a way of shubh aarambh in our livesand we still celebrate friendship with the ‘Har ek friend zaroorihota hai’ Airtel Song. The love has transcended through theages, through genres, through ads. The thirty seconds that we,the world of advertising creatives create with great complexity,is viewed and perceived as a simple dose of entertainment bythe viewers and the relationship equation is simply that of love.

People’s fascination for ads has always excited me; Ithoroughly enjoy sharing my community’s experiences withrandom strangers, who watch what we have created withgreat vigour. While I will continue conversing at every availableopportunity, I am bound by the human limitation of time,

opportunity and presence. And thus, I give my passion forconversations a new shape – a book.


Excerpted with permission from the Publisher from

30 Second Thrillers by K V Sridhar (Pops)

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing India

Pages 333, Softback

Price: Rs 499

Also available at Amazon at link 


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