Free Press Journal

30 Seconds Thrillers: Book Review


Book Name: 30 Second Thrillers
Author: K.V. Sridhar
Price: 499
Pages: 331
Publisher: Bloomsbury India

Cinema easily trumps literature if you are looking for a wider audience. And it may be commonly believed that as a passion, only the love of sports can come close to competing with the former. That notion though is wrong. How can we forget the entertaining tiny snippets that pepper our movie-and sport-watching experience in today’s multimedia world, otherwise called advertisements, and the love/hate they generate?

For people like me who have intently followed, obsessively discussed and heartily loved ‘ads’ all our lives—and given the rich attendance at ad-mad competitions, there is a sizable cluster of kindred souls out there still—the book ‘30 Second Thrillers’ by K V Sridhar, is a complete draw from the word go. The author, better known as Pops in the advertising world, is more than suitable to helm his maiden effort given this background. His longstanding, hands-on experience of the industry made it easier to call upon the other pundits to delve into the backstories of some of the best-loved ads of the Indian landscape; a feat tough to replicate for an industry outsider.

Right from the tales of the era-defining Cherry Blossom Charlie ad campaign to that of “What an idea, Sirji”, from the effervescent “Kuch Khass Hain” Cadbury ad to introducing India to bungee jumping in the “Taste the Thunder” campaign, from marrying brand Vodafone eternally to the boy and his adorably loyal pug to the iconic Tata Tea “Jaago Re” call to action, the book discusses all of these and more. But that is not all it is confined to. Let’s be very clear that Pops succeeds in more than just jogging your memory by taking you on a relished nostalgic trip of the 80s and 90s.

What he does is effortlessly chat up renowned ad makers like Alyque Padamsee, Prahlad Kakkar, Piyush and Prasoon Pandey, Prasoon Joshi, R Balki, and Nitesh Tiwari to dive candidly into their memories and flesh out the making of these gems. Using the anecdotal route, the book unveils the actual toil at every stage of the business in general and these ads in particular. And thus stirs in the reader’s heart a vivid respect for each of these experts. To classify the book as merely an interesting record of the history of Indian jingles over the said period will be short selling it quite a bit.

The nature of the subject also lends itself to further interactivity: the QR codes supplied next to the ad descriptions bring the jingle that much more close to you by allowing for immediate access to your memories. The instant connect that this book establishes with the reader is remarkable.

For this ground-breaking a work, the little niggling banes like slack editing, particularly in the early chapters, should have been avoided. Yes, I say ‘should’, a term strong enough to ensure that I usually avoid using it. For the conscientious reader, this will be the tiny ant that troubles the mighty lion. A work that has so much heart, and hard research, should ideally be spared this avoidable heartache. If you are forgiving of this aspect, the experience of sprinting through this book is rewarding. Because that ensures that nothing can mar the brilliance of this tome. Then the blights work out to be a kaala teeka on its countenance.

Who would have thought that reading about all the best-loved ads of our childhood would be as much fun as watching them? Moreover, it introduces them to a brand new generation as well.