So here's the first extract being released for my new book Sorting Out Sid. If you like it, now's a good time to place your pre-order for the book on Flipkart here at this link, because 200 people are also going to get a Happily Unmarried Beanbag Mobile Phone holder with their copy of the book!
Extract ( From Chapter 7, The Agency Presentation)
Sid tapped his fingers on the table for a while, in a pensive mood. Finally, the door swung open and Ravi ushered in the agency team along with a couple of other brand managers. The first person to enter was Murali, the head of the agency. He burst in with his usual boisterous confidence and flourishing moustache, booming, ‘How are you, Sid?’ and extended his hand.
‘Fine, FINE,’ said Sid in a loud and deep voice that came pretty close to matching Murali’s in terms of pitch, allowing his hand to be pumped in Murali’s death grip. They had never really liked each other. Sid thought Murali was a condescending gasbag, and he had always felt Murali resented dealing with a client so much younger than himself. They stood there smiling affably at one another. ‘Take a seat, Murali, so good to see you. Coffee?’
‘Sure, would love one,’ said Murali, and plonked himself heavily on one of the chairs as the rest of his team piled in. Sid greeted each one and noted with a heavy heart that it was a crowd today – about ten people? His heart sank. This was bad news; he knew this only happened when there was a particularly horrendous script idea, and thus the need for reinforcements. Right now in the room, Sid noted, were people from the servicing team, the copy team, the creative head, the account director and one small fellow whom Sid hadn’t seen before, and vaguely suspected to be the office tea boy. Still, one would hear them out – one hardly had a choice.
Once everyone had settled down and the pleasantries about the weather were out of the way, Sid cleared his throat and said, ‘So, can we start?’
Murali opened his mouth to speak, but Ravi piped in, ‘Sid, Akash said he would join us, should we wait for him?’ Sid gave Ravi a withering look which had absolutely no impact on the young man. He was about to say that there was no need to wait, and that Akash would pick up the threads, when the door opened and Akash came in, bustling with self-importance. Murali stood up to greet Akash as did the rest of the agency. Sid cringed inwardly. Whenever Murali and Akash met, the conversation between them was always extended and jovial, with entirely senseless rambling. It was to be no different this time. After ten minutes more of poor jokes, meaningless reminiscing and comments about the weather, a lull in the conversation indicated it was finally time to start the script presentation. Sid looked at his watch – 11.30 a.m., already! And not one useful task had yet been accomplished all morning.
Murali put on his serious business face and turned to Akash. ‘Akash, we have something brilliant for you today, you’re going to love it. It’s brilliant, boss! When you hear it, you’re going to say, “brilliant!”.’ Akash nodded as if under a spell, but Murali continued with a warning in his tone, ‘But, you have to be able to see it, you have to be able to visualize … and if you can’t visualize it…’ He shook his head sorrowfully. ‘… you won’t be able to appreciate it.’
Akash nodded sagely and Sid cleared his throat, irritated that Murali seemed to be addressing only Akash. Murali continued, ‘Rimi came up with this script, so, I’d like her to present. Go ahead, Rimi.’
Sid noted that Akash had assumed his listening stance – he leaned back on his chair with a serious expression and covered his eyes with his hand. Rimi looked confused but Murali indicated that she should go ahead.
Rimi was a thin, pale young girl with long, flowing, black hair who had always given Sid the impression of being an anorexic ghost who smoked too much. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and started narrating the script in a low monotone that she presumably thought was very captivating and sexy.
‘The story opens with the camera panning out over a modern-looking room. There is a row of four beds, each of which has one person fast asleep under the covers. We cannot see who they are until suddenly there is a ray of sunshine that beams through the window over each of the beds in quick succession. As this happens, the people on the bed throw off their bed covers in perfect synchronization. As they emerge, we see that they are four very beautiful, young girls. they stretch in synchronization and step out of their beds in synchronization. In perfect synchronization they get ready quickly and have their breakfast. They step out of the house in synchronized steps. We then see that they have reached another building. At this building, they step inside and go into a changing room where there are four empty booths waiting for them. In perfect synchronization, they step into the changing booths and when they step out we see they are in swimming suits. In the climax of the film, all four dive in perfect synchronization into a swimming pool and it is revealed to us that they are in fact – synchronized swimmers!’
There were a few long moments of silence – of anticipation on the agency’s side, horror on Sid’s part. Akash was nodding slowly, his hand still covering his eyes.
As per protocol, Akash, as the most senior person, was supposed to speak first. Everyone waited … and waited. Finally, Akash uncovered his eyes and spoke, but only to sidestep smoothly by saying, ‘I’m still absorbing it. Sid, you want to react first?’
This was exactly what Sid had been hoping for. Biting back sarcasm, he asked politely, ‘This is supposed to be an ad for our lead toilet cleaner, Kollinex. I must have missed the part where that came in?’
Rimi fumbled with her script, the very picture of ghostly, pale confusion, but Murali stepped in, booming, ‘Well, obviously Rimi didn’t spell it out, Sid, but the very idea here is to bring a certain glamour to the category. These girls are well rested and fresh in the morning. “Fresh in the morning”. The morning routine consists of bathroom visits – it’s about the concept. Here we are trying to give you a feel of the whole story without the boring product windows and brand specifics.’ He paused for impact, and to give Sid a look that magnificently combined superiority with reproach. ‘But of course, you have to be able to visualize it.’
Work Sid prided himself on being a cool character whose feathers rarely got ruffled. right now, however, he felt the blood rushing to his ears. He was on the verge of telling Murali to visualize exactly where he could stuff his lousy script, when Akash finally cleared his throat and looked up at the several tense faces around the room.
He exclaimed, ‘I can see it! I can visualize!’
As Sid looked on in dumbstruck horror, unable to believe his ears, Akash continued, ‘Apart from the minor point that Sid has mentioned, think this is indeed brilliant!’ the agency faces lit up with happy, relieved smiles as he continued, ‘It is attention grabbing! It has glamour! It has a story! Brilliant! Let’s create the storyboard and put it into research quickly!’
He got up to shake Murali’s hand. The meeting was concluded amidst happy laughter and jubilation all around. Sid sat glued to his chair, numb with shock. His team looked confused and disappointed, with one notable exception – young, enthusiastic Ravi who continued to take what appeared to be copious notes, pausing every now and then to shoot gleeful looks around the room.
The agency left shortly thereafter. Sid presumed they planned to take the rest of the day off getting drunk. He bade them farewell, his fake work-smile pasted on his face. The room emptied and Sid was the last to leave. He sighed as he went back to his desk with heavy steps, and a thought entered his mind – would it be premature to resign before finding alternative employment?
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