15 minutes on Cannes stage, a lifetime of learning: Josy Paul

The Chairman & NCD of BBDO India writes on his experience of being a speaker at Cannes Lions and the Festival’s ‘human’ side

e4m by Josy Paul
Updated: Jun 25, 2012 8:35 PM
15 minutes on Cannes stage, a lifetime of learning: Josy Paul

We won two metals and eight shortlists at Cannes this year. But my personal big moment was being a speaker at Cannes Lions alongside the legendary creative leaders of BBDO and advertising's most celebrated heroes.

As an agency, we had decided that we would not focus on ourselves but shine the light on someone else’s work.

I chose Mumbai Mirror’s ‘I am Mumbai’ after studying all the ad films from India. I felt that it would resonate with the diverse audience at Cannes Lions because it was based on a big universal human emotion.

On stage on June 21, I spent my 15 minutes de-constructing Mumbai city through the lens of the film. Layer by layer, I peeled the two-minute spot to show the world the hidden social and cultural nuances that make the film great. I went into emotional detail about the craft - explaining every frame, the raw gritty magic of the non-actors, the invisible cameras and the brooding music with its plaintive cry blending into the sound of the local train – the rhythm of Mumbai. Craft is as much about the activist as it is about the artist.

The session proved to be more touching than I imagined. After my presentation, I had so many people come up to me and thank me for sharing the work and giving them a deeper understanding of the film and the cultural codes of the city. They were hugging me, inviting me to their homes, to their countries, introducing me to their friends, buying me drinks, and wanting to visit us in Mumbai.

Everyone were saying such beautiful things, it was most moving.

I did not deserve this adulation as I was only a carrier and a mother to someone else's baby. The work was done by TapRoot and RDP Productions. Yet something happened that I'd never experienced before. People of almost every nationality came forward to hug me. The road from the Gutter Bar to my hotel was full of well wishers and cheering delegates. I felt like a surrogate superstar. It dawned on me that in the eyes of the world, the guy who shares and gives meaning to the work is as equal as the guy who creates the work.

Two days later, on June 23, the film won a Gold in Best Direction and I was glad that the actual creators of the film went up on stage to collect the award. The applause was deafening.

I realised that Cannes is more than an award show. It's a platform for us to express who we are and exchange our humanity. I have been to Cannes several times before. I have walked along the Croisette in the past holding our Gold Lions triumphantly. But I have never received so much love and attention as when I have shared another's work.

David Lubars and the large hearted people at BBDO opened my eyes and heart to the purer and human side of Cannes. It makes me proud to be with BBDO.

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