Chairman of Ogilvy, Piyush Pandey's throwback picture will have you in splits

Updated: Nov 27, 2017, 16:09 IST | Malavika Sangghvi | Mumbai

For anyone who's ever doubted that some of the brightest, coolest and most crazy men and women went into advertising, and sold us most of the soap and dreams of our growing years this picture should set the record straight

For anyone who's ever doubted that some of the brightest, coolest and most crazy men and women went into advertising, and sold us most of the soap and dreams of our growing years, this picture should set the record straight. Featuring two of the industry's most celebrated talents in their salad days, the legendary Piyush Pandey, chairman of Ogilvy, a legend of the industry, and his current group chief creative officer and vice chairman Sonal Dabral,  from a magical mystery tour the two had taken way back in 1996.

Piyush Pandey and Sonal Dabral on the flashpacking tour
Piyush Pandey and Sonal Dabral on the 'flashpacking' tour

"We did Salzburg, Florence, Venice and Barcelona before heading to the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival. We had chosen these cities at random. I remember we had opened a map out on the table in my cabin and with a ballpoint pen we were marking cities. Florence because David is there at the Uffizi, I said, Salzburg because of The Sound of Music, Barcelona because of course, Picasso and Gaudi etc etc," Dabral laughs at the memory of youthful exuberance.

"From pizzas in Venice, chicken curry in Barcelona to pubs, museums and castles. In that order. One amazing trip! Piyush and me backpacking (actually more flashpacking for the style we did it in) across Europe. 1996." "I'm now back with Ogilvy India (after 18 years), and it's great working with Piyush again. Boss, friend, big brother and mentor" he says, convincing us that we had missed our calling and advertising was where the fun had been… As for the other talents that have sold us soap and dreams, they include directors Satyajit Ray, playwright and thespian Satyadev Dubey and poet Imtiaz Dharker. Jus' sayin'

So you think you can sing?
Recently, at a swish SoBo soiree, the talk turned to the massive egos and attention-demanding activities of the Mumbai celebrity brigade. From engineering flashy entrances surrounded by gun-toting guards, to winning spurious awards and championing spurious charities, there's all manner of artifice. But this story about a top actor had us in splits. Apparently, so hooked onto his own celebrity was he, that we are informed at a party that was hosted in honour of a major international act by a Bollywood star a few years ago, a leading star had broken un-encouraged and impromptu into loud (and tuneless) singing just when the international act, (shy for all his mega stardom,) had been persuaded by those present to sing. "It was un-buh-leevable," says the narrator of this delicious anecdote. "Here you have the hottest singer in the world, actually singing for you and we had to put up with this besura awaz from the other corner of the room yodeling away…" Ah, the Mumbai celebrity ego…

Of Delhi bellies and Mumbai olives
A very tight work schedule prevented us from going to what we are sure was a stand out evening on Tuesday night, when Olive hosted a dinner for (going by how many times he's been here already) avid Mumbai lover and celebrity masterchef Gary Mehigan, as part of his upcoming new TV show. The guestlist included actor and old friend Rahul Bose, Rajeev Samant of Sula wines with his lovely wife Margo, the man who appears to be everywhere (or is it a hologram?) architect Ashiesh Shah, the repressible Pooja Bedi, upcoming star Evelyn Sharma who is busy with her upcoming charity garage sale, and (they are also celebrating 17 years of the eatery's launch this week) glowing hosts AD and Sabina Singh.

Rahul Bose, Rajeev Samant and Margo, AD Singh, Gary Mehigan, Ashiesh Shah and Pooja Bedi
Rahul Bose, Rajeev Samant and Margo, AD Singh, Gary Mehigan, Ashiesh Shah and Pooja Bedi

And of course, given that the table held some of Mumbai's great conversationalists, and tellers of fine yarns, the air was rife with much anecdotage and ribaldry, which obviously inspired chef Gary. Rising to the occasion, he confessed that the last time he'd been invited to a similar bash a few years ago it had been a no-show on his part. The reason? A bad case of Delhi belly which forced him to 'sit on the can for 48 hours straight' (Note to self: this is what you get when you have happy Punjabis and Aussies around a table), and only George Calombaris had made it. Last night however, he was in fine fettle, sampling Chef Rishim's flavoursome food and regaling all with his culinary adventures around the world.

A star is born 
"When she was two years old, I was shooting her baking with her grandma Umi Bedi in Bangalore," says veteran music video, tv and digital producer Seher Bedi, about the newest star on the horizon, four-year-old Daria, who we are told is fast becoming a digital star in her own right, with three shows currently running on the net, of which Bedi is the creator and director.

Daria with her grandmother Umi Bedi
Daria with her grandmother Umi Bedi 

"Her grandma was making her mix and taste all the yummy cakes and meringues and Daria loved helping her. So I edited the video just for fun and I happened to show it to the founder of a webzine, and he thought it would be a fabulous idea to launch it as a show," she says. Most of the shows came out of what Daria's grandmom taught her, from baking to yoga to painting.

Seher Bedi and mom Tina
Seher Bedi and mom Tina

And she's no slouch either when it comes to being a star. "As she grows, she dictates what she wants to wear on camera and how she wants to look. But is so much fun to shoot shows with her, and her mom Tina finds it to be a real bonding experience to do these shows with her," says Seher. Right now the pint-sized star's favourite words are anything with 'super' attached to it, like super cool or superstar, or super smart. Figures.

Sunny side up
Massimo Bottura was in a talkative mood at breakfast yesterday at Lower Parel's Bombay Canteen, where a private meet and greet was held for the food and beverage industry, over cutting chai and eggs Kejriwal. The popular chef was in town to cook for one night only, for the high-spending guests of a jeweller, and was dressed in a Gucci t-shirt with a casual jacket along with furry Gucci slip-on loafers, that he spoke about at length. And guests were treated to an interactive session and listened patiently to the travelling Italian's take on food, life and everything in between, before lining up for their mandatory selfie with him.

Sunny side up

Those in attendance included chefs Hemant Oberoi, Vicky Ratnani, Rahul Akerkar, Satbir Bakshi and restaurateurs Aditi Duggar, Sameer Seth, Romil Ratra, Samyukta Nair and Karyna Bajaj.

Massimo Bottura (left), Hemant Oberoi and Vicky Ratnani

Massimo spoke about his experience tasting desi food around the city, and had many words of encouragement for the young chefs in the room, especially Prateek Sadhu of Masque and Thomas Zacharias. And he had the room in splits when he was asked about the Indian service industry's belief in 'the customer always being right', to which he replied, 'F@!& them. Chefs always know best!' You tell 'em!

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