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Archive for April, 2012

A word on words

Who is a good writer? Ask that to a pre-advertising me and I would most probably be fumbling with a sweet-heavy jargon here, a quote stripped of Dickens or Bronte there. Now go back. Time travel back to the early 90’s when I was an oily haired teenager dealing with the disturbing tidings of adolescence. Knock against the brilliantly illustrated Famous Five cover that’s resting on my hand and ask again. Hey, girl, what’s good writing? Well, sir, umm.., writing that makes me feel good, really, really good!
Don’t stop there sir. I request you to step a little backer and go on to when I was a 5ish chubby kid, hair rudely crowding on my face, snuggling up to my grandpa who’s making a brave attempt pacifying against the dreary backdrop of May afternoon heat and strategically inconvenient power failure. His eyes are gleaming and he’s telling me the story of the princess held hostage under the deep blue sea by a demon. The only way to kill the demon is to locate his heart that’s stowed away in a remote tree, inside an intricately carved snuffbox. It’s a honeybee, or a pranbhomra, killing which would release a marvelous spate of events, culminating in the death of evil, the rise of good, and the patiently anticipated ‘happily-ever-after….’..
Yes, I tell you to interrupt that little pigtailed girl just when the prince is going to run his dagger through the honeybee. There and Then. “Hey, kiddo, who is a good writer?” I warn you sir. You’re in for some unexpected bloated insult from a fiveish cherub. “Hey, no fair! Don’t you see granpa’s telling me my favourite story! I can’t answer you now!” After you’ve recovered from that indignant jolt and ready to explore the seemingly invisible silver lining, let me tell you that you’ve hit upon the answer. Just like that.
That fairytale in the withered hands of the superannuated gentleman, fanning away his pool of grandkids on an unfairly hot summer day, is what good writing is all about. And that superannuated gentleman is what good communication is all about.
Notice how many eras you had to go back to get the answer. And why? Because we were on a journey of innocence. We were trying to find out how a child, who is at the simplest and the most uncomplicated stage of her life responds to a piece of work. This quality, this essential innocence, the capability to generate a spontaneous response wanes away with the replacements of the wall calendar. We add things like ‘conditioning’, ‘experiences’ ‘circumstances’ ‘learnings’ ‘education’ and a medley of other things that cloud our responses. Hence Dickens and The Four P’s of Marketing inch in, and the real answers inch out.
I am a personal person and live in an interiorized world. So I’ll tell you what think good advertising does/attempts to do to the customer. Good advertising is like my grandfather. It attempts to frame an argument in a way such that the customer’s mind develops a spontaneous and positive response towards the brand that the advertiser is trying to sell. It ain’t easy sir. Because we live in a communication brawl. You could liken it to a noisy, ill smelling tavern. People are drunk, fighting and kicking the life out of each other. You don’t know if the next person can get what you say. Most often they can’t. They’re intoxicated and tired with their humdrum lives. So are consumers. Intoxicated and numbed by the teeming populace of advertising communication they encounter everyday. Ask Freud, and he’d promptly stock all that junk up in the unconcious and flush it down brain’s lanes. So there. The market, the competition is like that hot May afternoon with a power cut. It won’t let you litsen to the brand story. You’ve got to make your own way.
Yeah, mate we get all that. But how do we do it? How do we make advertising communication so irresistible that the droning hot afternoon and buzzing dragonflies lose hands down? Well, you’ve got to be my grandfather. You’ve got to be the ideal story teller.
Why did we litsen to stories such that our lives depended on it?
  • The story: A story must have something to say. It may be the adventures of Sindbad. Or the fact that drenching yourself in Axe gets you girls.
  • The big idea: I hate using the 3 worder because its become a cliche and people don’t pay attention to it anyway, which is a big no-no in any form of good communication. Anyway, the BIG idea is actually a very powerful insight. Take any epic piece of advertising. Say, the fact that we constantly cringe about the fact, that we’re losing ourselves amid the demands of everyday. We love laughing but my wife thinks the grunting laughter is disgusting and inappropriate in front of her guests. You love dancing weirdly but cannot because you feel your body hair standing up on ends when a thousand pair of eyes stare down at your funny behaviour. But you love being you. Bingo! You now have a brand for it. Reebok lets U B U.
  • Relevance: This is a personal favourite and am an eternal crusader for it. Advertising isn’t your sing-dance stage. It’s not a profession that tells you, “Welcome Dude! You can do any damn thing here and get an award for it. And guess what? Booz binges are mandatory! Woohoo!” No Sir. We’re doing some serious stuff here. The client wants to SELL  his product and not do mental doodling with it. Conventional creativity is only a means to the end. It isn’t a necessary device. You can do without it and do well. Have you come across a notification for a ‘missing dog’ as a weepy television commercial that exhibits bill the dog in his happier days and a real tear jerker testimonial from the family asking you to contact them in case you see Billy sauntering by? No. You’ll see cheap maplitho pamphlets stuck to walls and electricity poles that boldly and crudely demand your attention for help in returning the missing dog.
 Going back where I began. A good communicator is one who connects with the intended audience. A good piece of advertising is that which empathizes with the reader/viewer/browser and so on. Which is why, it’s a good idea to flush out staple formulae before you get down to ‘communicate’ for a particular brand.
An agency called David with Josy Paul as one of its founders ceremoniously renounced adulthood. Everyone there was no more than 6 years of age. No more than the age that allows an innocent and unbiased receptivity and judgement. An age when there’s no difference between a well told fairytale and a brilliant piece of advertising.
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Great Snakes!

Kolkata pitter pattered yesterday. I drenched in it (tee hee hee)

And watched mashed neon lights without my squinted specs (Did I tell you my eye squint is increasing at an admirable rate). Now Dickens hits me hard. Look Sharp he said.

I also realized am like an exotic tea leaf. It’s like going down to Darjeeling and hovering around an expensive smelling tea taster, who repeatedly takes and squirts out tea (and gets paid an amount that makes me wanna squirt the life outta myself). And well, well, sip a little, and behave as if you know the taste for two pichla janams. And then go back home and buy the same old CTC. Goes well with same old chanachur. I am too inane for domesticity 😛

THE ODD MAGAZINE GOES LIVE ON MAY 15, 2012.

You, there, get up and read. Will you?

 

 

Love and Hugs,

the ever ironic, Sreemanti

You made me cry. Again.

When I started writing this blog, it was to save myself. Yes. It may be just an internet link for you. Like the the little tag that appears on all wordpress sites: Just another wordpress blog. But to me it was sheer survival. I will never forget that month when I was close to a complete collapse. Then there was this day when I looked around and realized that I godamn did not matter. My problems, my sorrows, didn’t stir a single leaf. It did not stop or start ANYTHING.

On a simpler level, I realized I HAD to live. Because my life just wasn’t mine. I may be this queer, isolated person people joke about, but I have my place here. I have a family who’re never gonna turn me out for ANYTHING. They haven’t supported me in some things, yes. But turning their backs? No. I’m a part of them. And today, I’m proud I have them. This is no consolation for me today. I’ve no friends. Because they didn’t find me convenient to deal with in my bizzare and painful moments. But I’ve learnt through suffering that you can’t RUN away. There are universes you destroy. And you have no effing right to do that.

Today when opened this blog after quite a gap, I found myself flooded with comments. I don’t know what to say to you all. You better not realize how important your comments are to me. You’ll be bogged down with the bag of responsibility..

So let’s just cheer up. I love you all. You’ve made me cry after a long time. Only this time for joy. Thank you people.

Coming back. I’m not going anywhere. Follow https://www.facebook.com/groups/271904539555701/ post by The Ideator or Sreemanti Sengupta. And do send in submissions. I’m eagerly waiting to experience your creations. Am also writing a book. It’s a difficult book. (no points for guessing that 🙂 ) So might take up time. But am gonna do it. Coz I have to live and live fully.

Thanks folks. You rock.

Yours warmly,

Sreemanti Sengupta

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“Hi there! Are you Naomi?”

The Ray Ban-ed, Timberland-ed, yellow jacketed Indian hero asked the phoren lady. And in my dear Boss’s delighted imaginings, he gets a smack on the cheek. Nope. Smack may be mistaken. Let’s stick to One Helluva Slap On His Exhausted Cheekbones.

"You look like a Greek God!!"

Once upon a time, there was this handsome man in our agency who was, precisely:

(a) selfish: did not let anyone take his place for shoots in fabulously far-flung exotic lands (how rude!)

(b) dishonest: self explanatory

(c) womanizer: self explanatory (I have explicitly given up feminism)

Everybody was really angry with this guy (we’ll call him Humbug from now on). My Boss who was also Humbug’s Boss  probably had a conversation like this with his Partners In Crime (PIC):

"One for all. All for One!"

My Boss: “Guys, are you thinking what I am thinking?”

PIC: “Most probably. If you’re thinking of lunch, that is. My stomach hurts!”

My Boss: “How provincial can you get? I am thinking of delicious mischief. I am thinking of soiling Humbug’s grand plans for going to Newzealand for the shoot. And I want to make him realize what a loser he is!”

PIC (amused): “My My!”

My Boss: “Ya’ll in this with me?”

PIC: “We must make it clear that we agree to the misdeeds provided our names appear prominently if and when this becomes an advertising case study.”

(It narrowly escaped being so. The chairman called it the ‘Most Hardworking Direct Marketing Campaign done by The Agency)

Cut to my Boss typing a mail under a new name, email and so on.

Dear Humbug,

We are pleased to inform you that Correntino, an Italian fashion house par excellence has decided to award you with the honours of making it here with us for a meet. 


and so on

Yours,

Corentino

Italy calling!


Free trip to Italy! Humbug’s face lit up. People crowded on glass panes to see an adult clapping his arms up in the air like an inverted penguin. Selfishness – Check.

My Boss proceeded to the next vice: womanizer.

My Boss is now Naomi, a woman correspondent who speaks on behalf of Corentino Fashion House.

Dear Humbug,

We are delighted to bring you this opportunity to collaborate with us. Your name has been referred to us by (insert name of the photographer who accompanies Humbug on most of the ‘selfish’ shoots and will do so for the one that’s coming up). We will be needing your photo and identification details.

Yours,

Naomi

Humbug rushes out for medicines and returns with scanned photos. (dishonesty: checked)

Naomi writes back with suggestive appreciation.

Dear Dear Humbug,

You look like a Greek God! I never knew Indians were so good looking..

(my Boss filled the space with womanish exuberance on beauty – I repeat: I have given up feminism!)

Yours,

Naomi

Free trip! Free girl! Yess!

Humbug does a jig or two. His blush splattered e-mail shyly asks Naomi for her photo.

O what fun! People hoard in to give Naomi a face and some booty as well. (Old layouts, anyone?)

Naomi is downloading slowly and in blocks in the pre-historic, slow-internet days in India. It comes down to the cleavage. Humbug licks his sweat. My Boss signaled to an eager workforce. “Charge!” People hoarded in to peek, laugh, jitter. Humbug turned a pretty pink. But the love story had just begun.

Ooh La La!

Incessant mails continued between Naomi and Humbug. Lovers in love. The usual.

Until such time when Humbug realized that the ‘selfish travel’ dates and the ‘seminar-plus-sexy-girl-free’ dates are clashing. Crestfallen, he wrote to his long-distant enchantress that he won’t be able to make it. After all, he’s a busy man!

Naomi wrote back and expressed concern. But, she opened a whole new possibility! >>> Boss, if you’re reading this, you rock!

Naomi said that she’s sorry too. But you know what? Fate is bringing her to India, to Chennai in fact!

(Humbug smiled again – des mein bhi chalega. Amar Prem!)


In fact, Naomi has heard of this b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l hotel called Kohinoor where she MUST stay. Could Humbug please book her rooms? Of course she’ll refund all the money (and the trouble).

So be it. It was time for war (or love). The PIC team came into play. Best rooms were booked. Best perfumes. Best scarves. Best car to fetch her at the Chennai airport at about 2 am.

And the rest is left to imagination. Here’s how we like to dream about it.

Humbug spends the whole night till dawn, hanging around at the airport lounge. He carries a photo print of the angelic Naomi. A remote similarity (or even white skin) prompts him to put on his machisma (coined word: the male version of charisma. I repeat, am not a feminist) and say, “Hey, are you Naomi? Am Humbug!” Every time Humbug is turned down, slapped and sneered on, the brutal world seems intolerable. His dark circles and hotel bills stretch for eternity. He decides to return home, defeated.

I've been duped!


I have been duped! There’s no such company. There’s no Naomi. It’s bullshit! It’s incorrigible. An e-mail is shot to Corentino and is shot back like a boomerang.

Corentino sternly states that they have been insulted and offended by Humbug’s lack of trust and his audacious doubts on their credibility. They will move the highest court to get justice.

Humbug cries. Hollers like a madman. Naomi flies out of his heart’s window like a scared crow. He seeks advice. He runs to the Italian Embassy who turn him out with admirable promptness.

He tries to write back and say : “you’re frauds. you don’t even have a website!”

Corentino shows a link of similar name and prove that they are subsidiaries. Now, they will move the International Court of Law.

Humbug is dead. He’s done for. Fortunately he gets transferred. Luckier still, he quits after he comes to know that my Boss was the do all and end all of the Huge Prank. He comes back to beat him up. But my Boss smuggles himself into crowded rooms. And crowded rooms sneer and giggle at Humbug. Humbug retires hurt.

I retire with my sides splitting with laughter after this story.

Here’s to you Sir. Here’s to good old Mischief!

Yours,

Sreemanti Sengupta

The Odd Magazine calls for Submissions!

The wait’s over!
The Odd Magazine calls for SUBMISSIONS for Oddity#1(that’s what we call our issues!)
Here’s what we’ll expect from you:

(1) Flash Fiction – 500 words max. in .doc and .docx formats only – attachment. only 1 piece per submission.

(2) Poetry – 10 lines in .doc/.docx format, up to 3 in each submission, as attachment

(3) Art and Photography – up to 3 jpgs only with captions for each image

(4) Logo design: Theme – Sleepwalker’s Club : 3 options jpgs only as attachments
Sleepwalker’s Club is an organization that celebrates Sleepwalking and the thin line between dream and really. Please note that this is a completely fictitious organization and any resemblance to the existing is surely coincidential and unintended. You are create logo designs (up to 3 options allowed in one submission) for the organization, treating it as an institution/corporate house. For an idea about what good logos are made of, take a quick trip of www.stocklogos.com.

(5) Random/Radicle: Anything that doesn’t fit into the above: videos, mixed media work, you name it. For videos, only .wmv files accepted, text and artwork as above.

Deadline: April 30, 2012

Mail all your submissions to: theoddmagazine@gmail.com.
Your subject line should read: (Flash Fiction/Poetry/Art/Photography/Logo Design/Random), (Your Name)
The Body should contain a 2 line bio with your web link, if any. (ONLY 2 LINES)
Submit text as .doc/.docx, art as jpgs, videos in .wmv formats as attachments. Wrong formats will be summarily rejected. The Odd Magazine does not take any responsibility for image phishing. You may include a watermark on your artwork for your protection.

Please note: –
– The overriding theme for ALL submissions is the Postmodern. The submission will be judged on lateral creativity. Read the absurd, fantastic, surrealism, magic-realism and more. An approach that cuts through conventional morality, causality, rationale and logic. We believe life is non-linear and fickle. Invectives are allowed as long as the blogger doesn’t evict us for it. So try camouflage. Let it flow – the rage, the meaninglessness, the pent-up energy. For some references, google up the 60s Beat Movement, Bands like The Credence Clearwater Revival, Allen Ginsberg, Psychedelic Drugs, Aldous Huxley, Rise of Cubism by Pablo Picasso. You’ll get the drift.

– The Odd Magazine offers no remuneration to contributors at present.

– The get back time is 2 weeks or more. Judging by the volume of submissions, we may some submissions may be rolled over to the next issue. The contributor will be duly notified.

– We do not encourage already published content in any form. Simultaneous submissions are accepted provided you inform us beforehand and in case of getting selected elsewhere, well before time. Your cooperation in this case will be much appreciated.

– We will not have any ‘fixed’ categories. The categories may/will change with each ‘Oddit (Issue). You will be kept updated.

Questions? Post it here, or the fan page or write to theoddmagazine@gmail.com..However, we would appreciate if you post queries publicly as it is likely to help all readers and interested contributors.

That’s about it, for now. Will get back here in case of any updates.
Get cracking!

Be Odd. Very Odd.
– Team Odd

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