The last time I met V Ramani was about eight years ago. I was then in charge of Lowe Dubai and Ramani was in town as a digital evangelist. Yes, eight years ago, when digital meant Internet dial-up connections and no spam SMSes to bother you, Ramani wanted to conquer this new world.
There were no half measures in Ramani’s life, he gave his 100 per cent in whatever he got interested in. As our erstwhile colleague Devika Sharma put it, he had an insatiable greed for highs – work, love, friends, partying, antakshri, cricket… his enthusiasm and his love for another nasha was what defined him.
He has many firsts to his credit, but his biggest achievement in my mind was to make media seem as sexy as creative. He was one of the earliest who would be chasing an idea. How can media make Philips an in-your-face brand for the youth? Philips Top 10, Philips out of the box… some of you will remember these TV properties from the 90’s. I daresay these would not have seen light of day without Ramani.
Not to say he was not a number cruncher. But for him, numbers were just a tool. He was the quintessential advertising man. He had understood the power of creativity, especially in media.
Ramani was a gambler. He would love to take risks. He would stick his neck out and backed what he believed in to the hilt. I can think of various examples where he coaxed, cajoled and finally got the client to do something never tried before.
Frankly, sometimes even I would be apprehensive if he had gone too far. And once in a while he did. But Ramani had advertising DNA in him. He understood the power of being creative. And he taught me a big lesson. Whatever you are diong in advertising, unless there is an element of creativity, uniqueness and ideation in your work, you are a deadwood in this industry.
And he would not be satisfied with just the big ideas. He would want to craft them. I remember him excitedly calling at 11 pm from a bar (those were the pre-mobile phone days), amidst the static of the MTNL landline he would be talking about what Satish Shah would do in the next episode of Philips Top 10.
Work hard and party hard. Ramani lived life to the full. I would wonder when he slept, where he got his energy from. I think for him sleep was a low, a downer where his nasha would disappear.
His loud guffaw was infectious, his drinking sessions boisterous and his love for Hindi film songs and cricket was indeed amazing. He would impromptu challenge me to cricket quiz and I would mostly end up second best. There would not be a week in the office or at a bar where Ramani did not organise a game of Antakshri.
I lost touch with Ramani in the last few years. But from what I heard about him, he hadn’t changed much. So, in a way when I heard about his illness a week or two back, I was not surprised. His constant search for the next high had finally gotten to him. He was a simple Chembur boy and life dealt him the most unkind cut at the end with so many complex medical conditions.
At the moment I am sure he is challenging God (or is it the devil!) for a quiz on cricket or a game of Antakshri. And in the meanwhile, he has worked out new ideas to promote heaven and hell.
I hope you have found a new nasha.
The author is former colleague of V Ramani from Contract and EuroRSCG.