Talha Nazim: A creative star who radiated with love, compassion & kindness

Teary-eyed industry colleagues pay heart-warming tributes to Nazim, Ogilvy India's Executive Creative Director, who, just in his 40s, passed away due to Covid

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: May 11, 2021 9:44 AM

Since yesterday, the industry is sorely grieving the loss of adman Syed Mohammed Talha Nazim, Ogilvy India's Executive Creative Director, who, just in his mid-40, passed away due to Covid. Social media is abuzz with posts remembering Nazim as a beloved boss, a teacher, a passionate bundle of energy and one of the kindest people in the industry.

Nazim was appointed the Executive Creative Director for Ogilvy’s Bangalore office in May last year. Before a short stint as an entrepreneur in 2019, he was the Creative Head at Innocean Worldwide.

In a career spanning 21 years at Leo Burnett, Bates, McCann and Ogilvy and having worked in Kolkata, Delhi, Bengaluru, Kuala Lumpur and Mumbai,  Nazim was responsible for some amazing work on brands such as McDonald’s, Dutch Lady, Siemens, JSW, Exide, General Motors, Fiat, Asian Paints, Reebok, Penguin, Coca Cola and Philips, among others.

This resulted in over 180 metals and nominations in international and domestic award shows such as Cannes, D&AD, The One Show, Clio, LIA, Andys, Adfest, Spikes, NY Festivals, Kyoorius and Abbys.

The Gunn Report listed his work as one of the most-awarded pieces in 2004 and 2013. In 2014, The One Show ranked him No.2 as a creative director and No.6 as a writer. His Penguin Author Audiobook campaign that he did with his ex-art partner Rohit Devgun is India’s most-awarded campaign internationally yet.

Teary-eyed industry colleagues recount their memories with Nazim and how he added a spark to their lives each time with his conversations and encounters with them. We whittle down heart-warming tributes from industry colleagues to the creative star who touched their lives with nothing but love, kindness and humility.

Ad maestro Prasoon Joshi in his Twitter tribute to Nazim wrote, “Very saddened  by the untimely demise of copy writer/creative director #TalhaNazim. Will cherish our discussions. He was a beautiful human being. His exceptional Penguin Audio books campaign will always resonate. Will miss you.”

Priyanka Mukherjee, Copy Supervisor at Ogilvy, in her tribute to Nazim says, “I've been reading our chats since morning, Talha, and as much as I'm trying not to cry, tears are just rolling down. I'm angry with you for leaving us just when I was starting to learn the craft of copywriting from you, I'm angry that you didn't wait to meet me and have that maacher jhol you wanted me to cook for you. I wish I could pick up the phone and scold you for wearing that cotton mask that would slip down your nose. Someday, in some other world I'll tell you how angry you made me for loving us all so much and then leaving us all of a sudden. I love you Talha Nazim for being the best mentor ever and I promise to write from my heart just like you wanted me to write.”

Sundeep Sharma who worked with Nazim in his stint at McCann Errickson Delhi shares some instances of his encounters with the celebrated creative and recounts his warmth and kindness each time. “He was one of the most awarded writers from the advertising world but the rare combination was that Talha Nazim was also one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure to meet and work with. If you are from the Indian advertising world, you already know who he was. It was during his tenure at McCann Errickson Delhi that we met. I used to be a radio producer, I would frequently visit ad agencies, meet creative directors, writers to get assignments to direct and produce and voice act in radio ads. At times, people would refuse to meet me, NOT HIM NOT ONCE, whenever he saw me waiting at the reception even if waiting for someone else, he would invite me to his cabin, ask for tea-coffee, make a conversation, share his food, ask about my family, financial condition etc. Probably he could sense that this small town boy was overwhelmed by all the glamour, charm and the scale of that massive advertising agency office. His conversations would always have some reference from the Holy Quran. He never used cuss words and asked others not to. 

It was one of those years around 2010, when he won the maximum number of awards in India and also internationally, I asked him, "How do you deal with all this praise and fame?" he replied "All the glory in this world belongs to Allah"  

This was much before stand-up comedy and any iota of public recognition, whatever little I have. This line remained with me and will remain with me for the rest of my life. Finally after working for 21 years, from selling door to door mobile phones, theatre, radio plays, voice-overs, radio production, when people started walking upto me for selfies and said kind words of appreciation, I always smiled and thought "All this glory belongs to Allah". This is the reason when people ask me to share my life journey, I always refuse, I don't want to glorify my struggles and take success and fame seriously. Jo aaya hai vo chala bhi jaayega. In the middle of our conversations, the only break he took was to offer Namaaz in his office cabin. You are in my prayers, Till we meet again. For me, he was my Ibn-E-Arabi,” says Sharma.

Meanwhile Gunjan Gaba, Creative Partner at The Womb who also worked with the creative at McCann says, “Rest in peace Talha Nazim. Your childlike enthusiasm, your energy, your infinite wisdom, your kindness, your Eid biryanis in Mccann, your warmth, everything about you will be missed dearly. You left us too soon.”

Hardik Suraiya, Director, Vanilla Films, another industry colleague says, “Woke up to terrible terrible news. Lost a friend, a mentor, a brother. Once someone met you, there was no forgetting you. Talha, you were full of life and that was Infectious. You’ll be missed sorely, friend. Love you.” 

Vistasp Hodiwala, Partner at Centric in his tribute for Nazim says, “This is when words like 'sincere condolences' sound hollow and are robbed off all meaning.

Talha Nazim, those kind eyes and that disarming smile defined the sort of person you were. I didn't know you beyond fb but I knew you more than enough to feel the extraordinary warmth of your sensitive soul in every interaction we have had. 

Your sudden loss seems absurd, and yet here we are, trying to make sense of this patently unfair event. May angels fly you home first-class, my dear friend. For those of us who knew you, you were an angel no less.” 

Azazul Haque, CCO, Mullen Lintas shared a screenshot of his last chat with Nizam on Facebook and wrote, “My last chat with Talha Bhai!! That was his reply from an ICU. He Loved God! He Loved Humans!! All Humans!! He just loved!! 

Haven't cried for years! Feel like crying like crazy!!! Not him!! Not him!! Not him!!! Not him!!! Dear God, Not him!!” 

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