Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Pursuit of Bollyness-II : Wagging the Dog

Continued from P of B Part-I…

For the next couple of weeks things got so hectic that there was no time to worry about the promise made to Mr. Prakash and the next meeting due.

A scene I was beginning to picture increasingly with graphic images of dangling Damocles' swords and me as the hapless Damocles. Uneasy, however, did not seem to lie our modern day Dionysius' head. At least, to all outward appearance.

I tried calling Karan Sabjan for his opinion on whether the Big M would be interested. Sabjan thanked me for adding years to his life by giving him his best laugh of the month.

This was one situation where I had nothing further to contribute. Either one knew how to get to Amibath Machchan or didn’t. I didn’t.

Feeling a bit like Pandora, with thoughts leaning increasingly towards aftermaths of usual Greek tragedies, I decided to broach the subject with LL.

As the days went by, this was not easy though. Surely he wasn't avoiding me?

With the next meeting just a couple of days away, I redoubled my efforts to corner LL and ask him for strategic guidance*.

*This is polite subordinate to boss management-speak for: Hey, you got us into this mess, and this time, you've gotta get us out.

"Get me Prakash", said LL.

Having got him on phone, LL proceeded to tell him how his father had an urgent though minor surgical procedure due on the very same morning of the next meeting scheduled and could we reschedule it? Mr. P was fortunately off to Denmark and so the next meeting was fixed up to be a whole two and a half weeks away.

Admiring this adroit manoeuvre; I admit it freely, would have never thought of it - we heaved collective sighs of relief, but I felt the figurative dangling thread fray a bit, and the sword inch closer.

But LL had thought of something.

There were only two possible approaches as advised by LL's role model Confucius:
One - Man who run in front of car get tired.
Conversely, also known as - Man who run behind car get exhausted.
Two - He who will not economize will agonize.

Next meeting, Mr. Prakash walked in fully expecting to see Machchan ensconced in our humble office abode. In his best suit and tie too. Mr. P, I mean.

LL informed him that we had contacted the Big M and that he had quoted an astronomical rate similar to his Badur contract.

I adjusted my expression accordingly so as to try look like we were the sort of people who had Machchan on call.

Knowing fully well Mr. Prakash would have never been able to loosen his purse strings to this extent, LL then commenced upon a severe campaign against using celebrities in advertising. Having embarked upon the celebrity route once, you are stuck with them forever. You've got to continue using a well known face else all will be lost. The fickle customer would move on. The astronomical fees you pay would have to be permanently budgeted for.

In short, hiring a celebrity for advertising would be like riding a tiger. You couldn't ever get off.

And what if the celebrity you've chosen lost popularity suddenly? Made a racist slur or in a drunken haze drive over a number of innocent people on the footpath. It would rub off negatively on your brand. A dreadful fate indeed.

Having made this convincing argument, LL decided to hammer the final nail in the coffin.

Amibath Machchan, while shooting in a rural, drought prone area for his next film, had insisted on a truckload of mineral water bottles. No, not for distributing amongst the thirsty populace as you may be excused for imagining. The popular brand of bottled water was used by him - wait for it - to bathe.

As LL would have it, this generated a lot of controversy and criticism for the Big M. In reality, it was soon forgotten.

This same region incidentally was an important one for Mr. Prakash's brands, generating a substantial amount of sales. As LL drew an eloquent picture as to what would have happened had we paid so many millions for the Big M; Mr. Prakash's disillusionment was complete.

Having reacted true to type, he now thanked us fervently as we had been personally responsible for saving him from a fate worse than death.

It took him only another ten more minutes to decide that he had actually arrived at this conclusion himself and claim that he had already planned to decline the offer for Machchan's endorsement should he have been ready and willing.

It is just as well the Big M would never know how far he fell from grace in our conference room in that one hour.

To soften the overall blow, LL suggested several second and third level Bollywood stars but Mr. Prakash was now a staunch convert to our cause. He happily agreed to endorsement from a humbler actor, known for playing character-led roles, suggested by Karan Sabjan.

Thus concluded another successful chapter of a highly strategic, skilfully played zero sum game.


Beta said...

Ha Ha!!

Sounds like some of the executives who say yes to everything that the senior management coughs up and eventually somehow manouvering them around to their viewpoints.

Pegasus said...

Just read the blog....sounds interesting far :)
Just wanted to drop in a hi...hope u had a great weekend.

Annoymously said...

Beta, sometimes that's how I think I survived this place! :) Waiting for an update on your adventures. Been a while.

Pegasus, good to see you here, thanks for visiting!

Anonymous said...

Had lost the way to your blog la but somehow made it back. I'm quite a fan of ur write-ups, keep them coming :)

Annoymously said...

@Anonymous, extremely glad to hear it :) and nice to see you back!

An easy link is which will get you here.

Hope to get to know you sometime too :)

Anonymous said...

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