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Book Review: 30 Second Thrillers

Television heralded a new age for advertising and who better to speak about it than the man who was there to witness it all. Here is our take on KV Sridhar’s debut book

Did you know that the first time anyone in India did bungee jumping was for an ad for Thums Up? Did you know that Zakir Hussain was ill from food poisoning while shooting for the legendary “Wah Taj” ad? Do you know how Rahul Dravid was given the moniker ‘The Wall’?

These are the titbits and inside stories that pepper ‘30 Second Thrillers’, a book by K V Sridhar, Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Hyper Collective. Published by Bloomsbury, it is Pops’ (as he is fondly known) maiden attempt at writing a book.

At the beginning of the book, Pops talks about his love for conversations and sets the tone for the rest of pages. 30 Second Thrillers is a long conversation, often rambling but never not interesting. 

The book belongs as much to Pops’ as it does to all the other contributors. In fact, the list of contributors is six pages long and includes names such as Alyque Padamsee, Late AG Krishnamurthy, Piyush Pandey, Prasoon Joshi, R Balki, Josy Paul, Prahlad Kakkar, Kailash Surendranath, Prasoon Pandey, Ram Madhvani, Shantanu Sheorey, Prakash Verma, KS Chakravarthy, Agnello Dias, Gauri Shinde, Amit Sharma, Nitesh Tiwari, Priti Nair, Arun Iyer, Shriram Iyer, Ashish Khazanchi, Kartik Iyer and Parshu Narayanan.

Divided into six parts, the book explores the changing portrayal of men and women in the ad world, advertisers and their love kids, the human touch in advertisements, ads with a good sense of humour, jingles and their catchy-ness and celebrities in advertisements.

Pops chooses to talk about these themes using specific ad films as examples and narrates how they came to be from the ideation to the actual execution. He also speaks to people involved in the making of each of these ads and often draws from his own experiences.

When writing a book that involves so many voices, it is easy to lose track of things and end up confusing the reader. There is also the risk of redundancy as more than one person talks about a particular ad. But Pops manages to mark a clear distinction between the voices of the different contributors and his own and the risk of repetition is completely eliminated.

The book could have done with better editing and pacing. What really does work for the book is the ingenious placement of QR codes that enables one to watch the ad that is being discussed at that point in the book. This is not only a brilliant way to keep the reader engaged, it also aides better understanding of the text.

If it is a trip down memory lane that you are looking for, while also vying for some insider information, 30 Second Thrillers is the book for you. 

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