How many of us become what we want to be as 7-8-year-olds? How many boast of having Neil French, Indra Sinha and Swapan Seth in our Facebook friends list? How many become ACD before 30? Meet Bodhisatwa Dasgupta, a creative star of the future. He has done all this, and more
Ananya Saha | Delhi | July 24, 2012[caption id="attachment_21523" align="alignnone" width="475" caption="Bodhisatwa Dasgupta"][/caption]
Inspired by his father, a PR professional who was always surrounded by the ‘cool’ people, Bodhisatwa Dasgupta always wanted to be in the creative field. The writer in him aimed for the stars as soon as he completed school. He applied at Response in Kolkata, and got a job too at the agency led by the redoubtable Ram Ray. But when told to bring his graduating certificate at the time of joining, he realised that he needs to be a graduate to start pursuing his dream!
After graduating from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, the lover of dark humour worked in various agencies: Bates, Mileage, and Genesis. “I was working on one of the web projects, and had to go to the Ogilvy site for reference. There I came across a button that said ‘Apply here’. I wrote a long mail, I do not even know to whom, and sent it,” recalls Dasgupta. The self-proclaimed over-ambitious Dasgupta then got a mail from Emmanuel Upputuru of O&M in 2006 asking him to move to Delhi and join the company!
Ecstatic to move out of Kolkata, “because if I was there, I would not have achieved what I have,” Dasgupta began his three-year stint at one of the most coveted creative agencies. Even though he moved to Rediffusion Y&R as Group Head for 11 months, he came back to O&M. As Creative Controller – Copy, O&M, Gurgaon, Dasgupta networked and worked with interesting people.
But Dasgupta’s ambitions are not just about being in a creative agency. He believes, “We can so much more. It is just that as humans, we are very lazy. Our lives have become a capsule. Using our creative craft, we can do so much more.”
Besides being excellent at his work at O&M, Dasgupta began an initiative to bring long copies to the fore. ‘Put Headline Here’ started as a blog, and then a Facebook page that is now aiming to be the world’s largest reservoir of copy-led advertising. What was also born of this initiative was Longhand (read about it here: Bringing the ‘Longhand’ back in ad copy – and how! and Longhand competition culminates)
The Longhand competition, open to all from the advertising field, was judged by some legends of the industry and a few masters of long copy. Sir Martin Sorrell, who got wind of Dasgupta’s initiative, endorsed it. Indra Sinha, Neil French, Swapan Seth, Emmanuel Upputuru, Satbir Singh, Ashish Chakravarty and Nima DT Namchu judged the competition.
Now, he is saving funds to create a website around Longhand “that should go live possibly by early next year.”
This milestone of his career was followed by moving on from O&M and joining Grey Worldwide, Gurgaon, as Associate Creative Director. Here too, he has started a Facebook group called G-Spot. “When I joined Grey, it came as a surprise to me that G2 Rams, Grey and G3 used to be in the same office but did not talk. I wanted to reach out to them. Hence, I began the group on Facebook to break the ice, and make everyone talk to each other.” And, it is working, he says.
Dasgupta lives by his philosophy of “As creative people, it is our responsibility to change something around us.” And, good “somethings” happen wherever he goes. Dasgupta was affectionately called “Creative Director of Interns” at O&M. Since there is too much dirt (read politics) to deal with as you progress in this industry, Dasgupta has taken it upon his young shoulders to mentor interns and engage them in fun exercises to keep their love for the craft alive. “It is our responsibility to make it as clean as possible. You cannot think of ideas when there is dirt around,” he says, adding, “I did not have anyone to help me when I started out in this industry. And I do not want young interns to feel that way. Besides, I like helping people who have a hidden talent. Helping only makes the world simpler.”
The people who inspire him most include the ones who go beyond writing copies for clients. He says, “Nima Namchu, Emmanuel Upputuru, Indra Sinha, Neil French, Kinu (Abhijit Avasthi), Prasoon Joshi… each of them do things more than just advertising.” Besides writing for money (at work), Dasgupta also writes for free lunches! “I love writing. I have written stuff for people, and have not taken money for it. I wrote an ad copy for Kiss Films (led by Dalbir Singh),” he says.
Dasgupta believes that the advertising industry does not have many negatives, but he quickly adds, “Sometimes ads lean too much towards awards and brands, which they should given that we earn our bread and butter from that, but we should aim to be more than that, just to change something around ourselves. Nike does it. So can everyone.”
A young dad, Dasgupta has penned a book, ‘A-Z of being a Daddy’, which should hit the bookshelves soon. An ardent writer, he does not read much himself. “I wish to write a book too, but I am not sure of what I will write on. Writing about me would probably be the best thing to do, but I am not sure how interesting that would turn out to be,” he says, tongue in cheek.
Says Dasgupta in parting, “At 29, I have come pretty far. People at ACD levels are much older than me. I thank everyone who made me reach here.” As they say, heroes start early.