RIP, Anant Rangaswami

24 May,2022

 

 

By Pradyuman Maheshwari

 

It was as if he waited for the book to be launched the evening before. If there’s one person everyone missed the most at the Mumbai launch of Open House, the book by Piyush Pandey and him, it was Anant Rangaswami.

 

Anant has meant many things to many people. He has spent years in the Indian advertising and media ecosystem: with Star TV, Sony Entertainment Television, Times FM, with CNBC-TV18 and First Post, Campaign India, Impact magazine and the last few years with Kyoorius. Many of these in a consultant mode.

 

But for hundreds of people in A&M, he was a dear friend. A friend who was there with them always, unconditionally. Caring, deeply personal.

 

Like he has been with Piyush Pandey. Unconditional love and respect for him. Ditto with hundreds of others. And to those who he didn’t like or whose actions he didn’t approve of, he would make it known to them loud and clear.

 

For instance, he didn’t agree with The Advertising Club’s Abby Awards. A former Ad Club president told me recently that he advised him not to waste his time helming the Club. Interestingly, the former president continued to be his buddy.

 

A breeze through his Facebook and Twitter timeline throws light on his personality. Very, very strong and clear views on most things in life. On advertising, media, news television (especially a couple of channels) and even paneer.

 

He was a good writer. Easy, racy style.

 

He loved to talk of his Kolkata connections. Or Pune, since he was aware of my connect with the city. He had great pride in his children and their accomplishments.

 

So, what makes the story on Anant Rangaswami’s passing the Big Story on MxMIndia today? Well, in the last 20-odd years, his has been one of the most significant voices in the large world of A&M journalism.

 

We have often rued the fact that many A&M journalists were moving to other industries. We worried about the quality of journalism, and the quid pro quo that exists in the trade press. Yet, he wouldn’t shy of talking on how he called a friend or two for an ad in Campaign when he was its editor.

 

He would love solving his newspaper crossword. In fact the first time I met him was when he approached Maneck Davar, then with the Indian Express group, and sold the idea of a puzzles and contests magazine. I remember standing for hours in the corridors of Tulsiani Chambers discussing the idea. That was in 1991. We became good friends, and we reconnected a decade later.

 

He commented once in a while on what he read on MxM. He was upset with an interview I did with Arnab Goswami. He thought I gave him too much publicity. As I look back, perhaps.

 

For his family, his children especially, it’s an irreparable loss. But for the several friends in advertising and marketing – in India and elsewhere, it’s huge as well. For Piyush, Rajesh Kejriwal and several others whose lives he touched very closely in the last decade-odd. For friends like Peter Mukerjea whom he stood by, always. For Martin Sorrell, Anant was a dear India connect.

 

~ ~

 

When I was planning to launch MxM in 2011, I invited Anant to write a regular column. We met over a coffee. He didn’t agree, he wasn’t sure. He thought it would be another pluggy publication with paid content and multiple award events to please all and sundry. He once told me that he was glad I proved him wrong.

 

We disagreed often. He didn’t like the idea that MxM (and I) supported Goafest and the Abby Awards. I once even criticised his stand in an article. But he was also happy to see me back Kyoorius when no one gave it any importance.

 

In Anant’s passing, the industry has lost a true, caring friend. #GoneTooSoon, is how the news was hashtagged in a WhatsApp group. He was just 61. Gone too soon, indeed.

 

RIP, Anant Rangaswami.

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