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Positive Thinking

Cheer quotient is an important factor in team performance

I just met an old friend who had gone...

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When its a passion, you cannot rationalise. There is no second-best
ML: Tell us about your childhood. Are you from Delhi?
PK: I was born in Lucknow – that’s how my tehzeeb and nazaqat (guffaw) is of such impeccable breeding and antiquity. I learnt it from the nurses in the military hospital. But, since I was an army brat, the other aspect of me is the parade-ground lingo and manners as well.

ML: Your father was in the army and posted at Lucknow?
PK: No, he wasn’t posted there. My grandfather was in charge of the military hospital there. He was a Major General – DGMS (Director General of the Medical Services). He was also the first Indian officer to command the Rangoon military hospital. This is just before ‘Slim’ (Field Marshal Viscount Slim) decided to walk back from Burma; so he walked back with him.

ML: Neither Lucknow nor the army seems to have influenced you...
PK: The army is very much a part of my DNA. I have a little olive green strip that runs down my backbone. My girls will tell you that. General Chaudhary (former Chief of Staff, General J.N. Chaudhary) was a role model.

ML: But you didn’t join the army.
PK: No, I didn’t join the army because I managed to get myself glasses. It means that I became what is called a ‘category’ and suspected that they would shove me into some desperate remote place instead of giving me the regiment that I wanted to join, which is, the President’s bodyguard, where you get to wear a great uniform without an excuse to do so, strut up and down in the President’s estate, play polo and because the motto of the cavalry is “when in doubt, drink beer” (guffaws and goes into more lurid descriptions about why he admires the cavalry).

ML: What about family and siblings? And where did you go to school and college?
PK: I have a sister who lives in Germany. My greatest influence is actually my school principal, Col. E. J. Simeon, who is still my biggest hero. I was in Sainik School Kunjpura (Haryana). Col. Simeon died recently and we gave him the biggest send-off that any principal has ever had in the world. Our old school boys flew down from everywhere in the world for the funeral. It was a grand affair; you cannot imagine how much of brass there was at the funeral. Actually, I just realised that my school literally runs the army today -- right from the vice chief of staff, to core commanders. Even those who didn’t join the army did very well. There are a couple of Silicon Valley millionaires and Hong Kong-based media tycoons from my school – it is a varied bunch, but it was only Col. Simeon’s batch – 1962-1969.

ML: Did you want to join the army when you were a kid? How then did advertising happen to you?
PK: Not particularly. I wanted to do anything that is outdoors. Everything that I have done has never been pre-meditated or deliberate; they were all little pipe dreams that suddenly happened. When I was in school, wanted to join the army, wanted to play polo, join the tea estates. Then I have sold lingerie in my holidays as a door-to-door salesman for pocket money; but it was hot and bothersome and I wasn’t going to be a millionaire doing that, so I gave up.
I was in Ferguson College, Pune. My grandmother was from Pune and after my Jat upbringing in Karnal, she thought I needed a bit of culture from the Maharashtrians at Deccan Gymkhana.

ML: Your grandmother was a Maharashtrian?
PK: A pucca Chitpavan Brahmin from Pune – she was Sonutai Patwardhan and went to a school called Hazurpaga, which is quite a famous girl’s school. She was probably among the first women doctors from Maharashtra. When she decided to marry my grandfather, they wouldn’t have her. My grandfather was from a rais (rich), khatri family from Allahabad and my grandmother was a year senior to him at the Grant Medical College. She was quite legendary actually.
My mother’s side is highly erudite and very eminent - doctors and chemical technologists, etc. One of my two uncles was a pathologist who was high up on the merit list, another was a chemical engineer (Prakashnath Saigal) who worked at NASA and made the first breakthrough on solid fuels, so much so that when he wanted to come back to India they wouldn’t let him because of security concerns. He came back and started teaching at IIT, Delhi.

ML: So you went to Pune to get serious.
PK: Actually, before I went to Pune, I checked out Baroda – where my uncle was posted. I didn’t think that M.S. University was quite my thing. So I then went and checked out Fergusson College. I didn’t know Bombay, but if I had come here and seen the sea, I would probably not have gone there. I was supposed to study Economics, which I didn’t; instead, I concentrated on a subject called Military Strategy, which was my optional subject. It had a Major General Paranjape as head of the department; he was from the last batch of the Indian army from Sandhurst. I got a lowly third division in Economics, which I wasn’t interested in and a high first division in the optional paper on Military Strategy. So overall, I got a low second division.

ML: That is when you were offered a job with Citibank and didn’t join. But did you ever appear for the NDA (National Defence Academy) entrance exam?
PK: No. I was a category, so I never did. Anyway, Gen. Chaudhary was the chief guest at one of our sports days. This is around the time when we were heading into the 1971 war. He took me aside and said very gently, “Son, my advice to you is that if you are going to join the profession of soldiering and you can’t find a war to attach yourself to, you are most likely to get cached for insubordination. So I suggest you don’t join the army.” (He then told us a hilarious tale about how and why Field Marshal Cariappa had introduced a clause in the army manual about “stealing the affections” of a fellow officer, while we attempted to drag the narrative back to chronological order).
Anyway, from Pune I went to Delhi where my mother used to live. I had decided that Citibank was not my cup of tea. It was extremely gloomy and banking was not as exciting as it is today.

ML: You were telling us about Delhi. (At this stage he went into the story of Dispatches, Michael Herr’s iconic book on the Vietnam War and the writer’s refusal to tell the story in a chronological order to expose the mindlessness of the war and the futility of a Western chain of command there. And that led him to tell us about his brush with the Mumbai mafia).
PK: There was a time when I was threatened by the mafia -- long before it became fashionable. I was doing a film for Proctor & Gamble (P&G), Pakistan and they decided this is a nice soft target: let us extort some money from him. Initially, I was gleeful about it and said, ‘If you hope to find money in my office, come along and we will look for it together’. But it turned serious and they barged into my office one day, fully armed and roughed up everybody.

ML: Which year was this? What happened?
PK: Around 15 years ago; before extortion became fashionable. Well, they picked the wrong guy, because I was too well connected and they were finally bumped off. (After more facetious quips, we persuaded him to tell the story). My wife filed a complaint with the commissioner of police. I went to my Minister of State, the Lakshwadeep MP – P.M. Sayeed, who died recently; he was then Minister of State for Home. I was meeting him those days to set up a diving school and create employment opportunities for people there. I told him about the threat and said I want some serious deterrent to this thing – I was worried about my family, my kids were in school and I really didn’t have the money to pay these guys off. I must say the cops were exemplary. They tapped my phone, tracked them down to somewhere in Pune and they were bumped off in an encounter. They showed us photographs of the guys afterwards and sure enough they were the same ones.

ML: What gang was this?
PK: I don’t know. There was somebody called Babubhai. Initially, it was rather funny; I used to have a stuntman called Babubhai and when they said he wanted to talk to me, I kept saying, “What’s his problem, ask him to come to office if he has work with me.” When they demanded money, I said, “Come along to office and we’ll search for the money together”. They weren’t amused. It sounds funny today but, believe me, it wasn’t. There were seven guys who were bumped off in that encounter.

ML: So the system finally saved you.
PK: (Gravely) Actually it did. The police worked quietly and discreetly and one month after the complaint, it was all over. The first sign was that the threatening calls suddenly stopped. That is why I have been very neutral about encounters and never stood in judgement when people say how good or bad or ugly they are. Everything can be misused, especially the law; but, at the end of the day, when you are directly affected by something like this, you suddenly realise that it is the only solution to that kind of harassment. It is systems failure that led to encounters as a solution – there is complete failure at the level of the judiciary and executive – firstly, because of a nexus and secondly because cases take so long that there is never any justice at the end of the day, especially for the victim. People then take law into their hands or succumb to threats and pay off the mafia. The moment that happens, you have a parallel system of justice. Today, even banks go to collectors to make people pay up.

ML: Coming back to your college days, did advertising happen next?
PK: Yes. I was walking around Jor Bagh (Delhi) and saw this board that said ASP – Advertising and Sales Promotion. It was a winter day and everyone was sitting in the lawn and eating lunch. They weren’t suited and booted, but were all casually dressed. So I said, this is cool and walked in. There was this receptionist with the best legs I have ever seen. I went to her and said, ‘I want to work in this place.’

ML: How did you get the job?
PK: Well, I chatted up the legs and she got me an appointment. They gave me a copy test -- to write copy for an Ovaltine type of a product. They also showed me an advertisement written by Frank Simoes for Liberty Shirts. You should look it up in the archives: it was called the Liberty Shirts Campaign. It had a plaid shirt with a woman’s hands going all over it. It had a ditty that went, “I loved his shirt and started counting the buttons and unbuttoned them. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor… oops no more buttons… and much, much later, over a glass of wine we discussed the shirt”. Imagine this was in 1970 – it was so sexually suggestive and the whole world was holier-than-thou. A lot of advertising people also didn’t approve of the advertisement (it is now considered a landmark campaign). They asked me, “What do you think of this?” I said, “It’s brilliant.”

ML: You became a copywriter?
PK: No, they had me do a copy test and made me into a glorified peon. I earned less money than the peon. I got Rs350 and they said, ‘let’s see what you do as a ‘runner’ – a runner being the sixth assistant to the account servicing guy who, in this case, happened to be Muzaffar Ali (the filmmaker). Thank God, Muzaffar Ali was an extremely ineffectual boss and I had to do most of the work as a trainee. So I took the help of another trainee copywriter and we did our own ads and sold them to clients. Nobody took us seriously in the art department, so we made our own campaign and sold the campaign to a chap called Inderveer Singh who was marketing head of Sylvania-Laxman. That was my first campaign.

ML: So you were working under Muzaffar Ali and doing your own thing? How did it happen? Did he fix it for you, how did it work?
PK: Muzaffar used to sort of go through the details; but we fixed things ourselves. Anyway, he soon left to join Air India. I then started working with Sumedh Shah, who now heads Sunil Gavaskar’s PMG (People Management Group). But I was chafing at the bit and was trying to wangle a stint at Mumbai, because that is where the movies were. I wasn’t very interested in advertising -- I wanted to make ad films or whatever. When I was in college, I had even started a film appreciation society with Satish Bahadur of the Film Institute.

ML: Didn’t you think of joining FTII (Film & Television Institute of India) since you were in Pune?
PK: No, I didn’t want to study for three more years, so I decided to do advertising and then get into films. Luckily, for me, Shyam Benegal was head of the film department at ASP in Bombay.

ML: ASP was big at that time, was it?
PK: Oh yes, it was the best agency then and it had people like Shyam Benegal, Sylvester daCunha, Yusuf Fernandes, Usha Katrak and K. Kurien. They were a really hot team and handling accounts like Amul, Bournvita and Ovaltine. After working with Sumedh Shah at Delhi for a year, I inveigled my way into Mumbai. But they were bugged with me for some reason. So they sent me to this Gujarati film maker – Ken Rathore – who made (Satyajit) Ray-like films long before Shyam Benegal, Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak and others. He made a film called Kunku. It was about a widow in a Gujarati village, and got a lot of critical acclaim, but no money. I worked for four or five months with Ken Rathore, but then I wanted to make films. I got my office to give me Rs400 to make a film.
It was based on a poem that I had written about a girl. It was a very interesting film that I have lost. I shot it in stills over 15 days. I made the film simply because I wanted to make it; I was experimenting and nobody was going to buy it. So I shot the entire film in spurts, because I had to get the girl used to the camera, which was hanging around my neck. It was a very intense film, which I developed in Akbar Padamsee’s studio which he lent to young film-makers. Gerson DaCunha was the first person I showed it to. It was 4.5 minutes long and was black & white. He saw it and said, “Very nice. Now tell us what it means.”
At that time, Shyam Benegal had gone off to shoot a documentary for Hindustan Steel. Until then, he had never accepted me as a trainee. He had a low opinion of me, because he thought I was highly illiterate cinema-wise, since I didn’t know much about film history. This was back in 1971. When Shyam came back, he asked me what I had been doing and I told him I had made this film. He looked at me and didn’t say anything, but I think that is when he changed his opinion about me. That’s because there are hundreds of film-makers who go around with a jhola that has a script in it; 90% of them never make the film; they only dream about it. Not that they can’t make the film, but most of them don’t want to put it to the test of public approval – because their whole dream may be shattered and they would have to face reality.
Anyone can make films, but it has to be coherent. M.F. Hussain made a documentary which was an unmitigated disaster. As long as you have not made a film, it is fine; but once you have made it, every idiot around the corner who has bought a ticket can criticise you, that too in public.

ML: What was the first film that you made?
PK: It was a film for Finlay Fabrics. Actually, even before that, Shyam began to give me responsibility, so I made several films for Anacin, since Shyam had gone off to shoot his documentary. Those days, we had the Geoffrey Manners account and we used to make eight to 10 Anacin films for them every year. They looked like ‘slice of life’ films; but each one was shot regionally at real locations – mainly in small towns and with real people chosen from different professions. It was a very successful campaign.
Shyam had conceived the films over a period of time and generally he made them; but when he was busy, we made them. That actually gave me a lot of confidence because they were very effective films and I learnt to handle different kinds of people. They were rough films and looked like news footage – what is known as cinema verite. Geoffrey Manners was the first company that understood the need to make realistic films and find real-life situations.

ML: The format was later copied by others?
PK: Not really. People are more comfortable with the slick format and don’t want to experiment. You must realise that clients are very literate, erudite, highly rational and anally retentive people. They are all structured in a box – that is why they are called box-wallahs. They come out of MBA schools and are taught that two and two equals four; and then they have to deal with people like me who refuse to accept it and dream of how two and two can become 22.

ML: But they are the ones who pay; so they call the shots, right?
PK: Absolutely. That is why you have to constantly figure out how to circumvent them. You have to deal with them and still do your own thing. In my case, I usually end up shooting two films – one their way and one my way and they often end up in a complete muddle because they want a little bit of theirs and a little bit of mine. The earlier part of my career was spent shooting two films every time because I didn’t agree with them and I wasn’t senior enough for them to accept what I said. If I had to do it my way, that came out of my pocket.

ML: Was this at ASP or when you were on your own?
PK: That was mainly later; but even at ASP, Shyam gave me a lot of latitude and I could often make all my experiments and then give it to him and say, ‘you sell it to the client.’ He had a huge stature and could tell the client “trust me”. But it doesn’t work with juniors. You say, ‘trust me’ and they say, ‘fxxx off’. But if you are a Piyush Pandey (current chief of Ogilvy & Mather), you can say ‘trust me’, and they will grumble a little but accept it.

ML: So how long did you work with Shyam Benegal? Which were your major campaigns?
PK: I worked for six years from 1970 to 1976, almost until I started Genesis. We did Anacin, Finlay Fabrics and Erasmic blades with Bobby Talyarkhan. Then we started Genesis in 1976 and started making films -- ad films. Our first film was for Air India. My relationship with Britannia began in 1977 with the Marie biscuit films which had the British national anthem tune -- Rule Britannia was the idea. I worked with Sunil Alagh and Britannia until he left.

ML: Wasn’t Mr Wadia a friend as well?
PK: Well Maureen (Wadia) was a friend, but because they thought I was Sunil’s friend, they wrote a lot of nasty things about me in the press saying I was in cahoots with him, which was very unnecessary and rather stupid. So now, it is going to be a little difficult for them to turn around and say that we are friends again – after all, it is not politics. They had said I had been paid Rs six crore, but it was over three years and I made around 20 films for them per year.... In fact, my other clients would be mad at me and wonder why I was charging them so much when I made concessions for Sunil Alagh. But I did Bombay Dyeing before that for Maureen. (All this is said with a big laugh and no perceptible rancour.)

ML: Tell us about your restaurants.
PK: This whole business about hobbies becoming alternative careers happened with Jennifer Kapoor (theatre personality and wife of movie star Shashi Kapoor), when she asked me if I would like to run Prithvi Café.

ML: We know how you turned around a little dump of a place belonging to the Indian Tea Board at Churchgate (Mumbai) into a quaint and lovely café that showcased Indian tea and the history of Indian tea, but had to give it up.
PK: I know. I was very disappointed with how they treated me after all that I did there. Incidentally, they may not have filed my resignation letter. It ended with, “because you insist on interfering, I resign with the legend, Fxxx off”.

ML: How did you get into it?
PK: I got into it because of a very nice sardar who was under pressure to give the Tea Centre back to the textiles ministry. The ministry had given it to the Tea Board to showcase Indian tea but it had turned into a dump. When I went to look for it, I couldn’t find it. There was no signage. Anyway, the Tea Board first approached Jigs Kalra, who was famous by then, and asked if he would like to work on this place. Jigs quoted a figure of Rs one crore. He had his fundas right and I was absolutely wrong. Shyam (Benegal) had once told me that government has no respect for your time, so there are only two ways of dealing with it – you either work for free and remind them all the time that you are doing so, or charge them such an obscene amount of money that they are all in awe of you. If I had asked for the kind of money that Jigs had, they would never have interfered. I was being so fair. When I saw the place, I did not think it was redeemable. I asked the girls of my office whether they could do something. One of them – Kalpana -- said, “I think so.” My brief to them was that it should look like a tea garden club. With air-conditioning and everything, it cost us Rs50 lakh. We did not even open officially; I just walked across the road to the British Airways office and said, “Hey guys, would you like to sample something for free?” That’s how it started.

ML: It was a great place and just right for journalists, activists and advertising types.
PK: It was designed for bachelors who were broke and needed a place to take their girlfriends to. They told me that the rent was Rs9,000. The rent for a place of that kind was Rs1 lakh those days. I said, this meant that I could pass back Rs90,000 into food and make it more affordable. I was so naïve. So we had tea in kullhads that cost Rs10 or Darjeeling tea in a silver service that cost Rs100.

ML: We have digressed again -- tell us about Prithvi Café.
PK: Well, my love affair with food started much earlier. When I first came to Bombay, I was staying as a paying-guest (PG) in Colaba and the women we used to date were staying in YWCA, nearby. We used to be perpetually broke. Jigs, who was then in Times of India, found a great way around the problem. Busybee (Behram Contractor) was a food columnist with the Evening News of India. Jigs told him that he should write about the fine restaurants while we would cover the crummy places for him. We started writing about small places like Baghdadi and Gokul (behind Taj Mahal Hotel) and were soon treated like royalty.

ML: So when was the time that you lived in office and became an expert in bed bugs?
PK: The whole team from ASP left and started Radeus, which did not have an office. One of our clients had a flat in an old dilapidated house in Colaba, which later collapsed. That is where Radeus started. I had no money to stay on my own as a PG. I asked Usha Katrak whether I could stay in the office. The office was full of bugs and cockroaches. We dubbed it Khatmal Niwas. A friend, Sandeep Kakkar, and I used to live in the office. But we used to spend the whole night battling bedbugs. I have observed them so closely that I can write a whole PhD thesis on khatmal (bedbug) behaviour. They are the world’s smartest insects. I called them paratroopers. They can drop from the ceiling on to you.

ML: Really? You found that out?
PK: We used to create a lakshman rekha with DDT around us before sleeping, to stop them crawling through. In the morning, there were no white trails of them having crossed the circle but we were still bitten. One night, I decided to stay awake to find out how they were getting into the circle. Suddenly, I found a black spot appearing on the bed – tak! Then one more – tak! I looked up and saw them climbing up from the side to the beam on the ceiling and dropping on us! I later read about insect behaviour in a biology book which said that they do that sometimes.

ML: That was Radeus. After that, you started out on your own?
PK: Yeah. I was there; but pretty soon there was a conflict of interest, because I wanted to do a film. So, three of us pooled Rs250 each and started an ad film company -- Genesis. The other two were Mandeep and Ravi. We rented an office for Rs300 with a phone. Smita Patil was Mandeep’s girlfriend at that time and she named it Genesis because she had seen a film by that name and was very impressed. (He then digressed into a hugely colourful account about the Old Testament from where the name Genesis originated). A couple of years later, we moved to my current office.

ML: What about your partners?
PK: Mandeep died in an air crash but he had left the company by then. And, the other partner took large amounts of money and joined a shipping company that finally went broke.

ML: So, you were making large amounts of money then.
PK: I did not know it then (laughs loudly); but obviously it was there.

ML: So the next big thing in your life was Prithvi Café and then the scuba diving school.
PK: Prithvi with Jennifer. There was a girl in my office whose mother, a shy little lady, was a superb cook. I persuaded her to join me. Prithvi Café was five tables fixed to the ground and a little space behind the bungalow that we used as a kitchen. Everybody was sceptical about whether it would work. Of course, the service was atrocious since nobody was trained; our friends would help out with the service. We had a unique billing system. Customers were requested to write down what they had eaten, on a piece of paper and pay accordingly. They sometimes forgot a side dish or, say, a soft drink, but what was amazing was they would come back and pay for it when they remembered.

ML: Did you make any money? And why did you give it up?
PK: Yeah. We made lots of money. We miscalculated everything but, even then, we made lots of money. The margins were not great but the food was. We were always full. We used to make six dishes, write it on a blackboard and everything would be sold out. The dishes were as eclectic as khichdi and roast Virginia ham. We concocted Irish coffee which was very popular. It had no whiskey in it; instead there was local brandy, with honey and cinnamon; but we had perfected the technique of adding the cream to float on top. (This was in the closed economy of the 1980s.)
All I did in Prithvi was a learning experience for me to be applied at the Tea Centre. I gave it up because Jennifer died. That took the heart out of the place. Prithvi was not a business, it was fun. Then Kunal Kapoor became the ogre-in-charge. So one day I told him: “Kunnu (Kunal Kapoor), you will run it better than me. Here are my cooks. Please take care of them. Here is the crockery, the cutlery and the key. See you.” It is 21 years now; I never stepped into the place again.

ML: How did the scuba diving school happen?
PK: I went to Mauritius about 18 years ago with a friend who had a scuba diving company. I was sitting on the boat and feeling ill because the boat was rocking. The boatman told me to jump into the water; it would make me feel better. I put on the mask and dived. It was my first diving experience and I found it fabulous. So I went back the next day to dive and I found a book flapping on the reef floor and brought it up. It was the Koran. Exactly seven years later, I founded the first diving school in Lakshadweep in a 100%Muslim territory. It was like it were ordained and I think the Koran had something to do with it.

ML: What made you set up the diving school?
PK: These are whimsical decisions. I do what I want to do when I want to do it.

ML: We don’t quite believe you; you cannot manage to run a diving school in Lakshadweep, be a serial restauraeur, make ad films and make money without some kind of system.
PK: I learnt to manage time from the women in my life. I do everything with a lot of passion; a lot more gets done that way. I am not into profit & loss and budgets and stuff like that.

ML: Who does that for you?
PK: My wife. She has the business sense. I have a huge support system; but, of course, she opposed everything I started out to do. I do things because they are passions not businesses. You cannot equate profitability with passion. My aim, at the end of the day, is that it must break even. The most difficult part about a passion is that you always put so much more into it than you can take out. In a business, you can always say if the returns are going to be so much, I will limit my investment to this level. But, when it’s a passion, you cannot rationalise; there is no second-best. Either you are the best in the world or you are nothing. To be the best in the world, you have to put in the motivation, time, training, effort, pick the right people and constantly motivate them to run things with the same degree of passion. Which is why I have never ever hired trained people from outside. Genesis, the parent company, is really a training company. It trains people in production. I believe there are only two types of people in the world – my production people and others. I would trust my production people with my life; I wouldn’t trust others even for five minutes.

ML: So how do you train them? How do you pick the right people? Is it intuitive? What is your system?
PK: I train them when they come in as freshers. They come in to me hungry and sometimes limping … my system is that I give them access to myself and my passion and my enthusiasm and my intensity. Sometimes, I am wrong about the people – not about capability but about motivation. Some people get motivated by money; they leave prematurely. I believe that everything in life has a cycle and you have to complete the circle – I call it the circle of life – when you have done that, there is no beginning and no end – you are an entity. Your training is that circle and once you have done that, it doesn’t matter what you do, you will never ever settle for second best.

ML: You have been a training ground for a lot of successful people… who are the people you are proud of or knew that they would be successful.
PK: Sixty per cent of the advertising business is ex-Genesis. Anyone who has survived two years has done well. Because I really put them through the grind; I yell at them and make demands on them that are completely unreasonable and they are paid very badly. They come here because it is a privilege and they believe it is a privilege, because I can only take on a small number of people. But what I teach them is not a craft, I teach them how to look at things – you can never work at anything if you look at it as work. You are never limited if you see it as fun and because there is no limit on the amount of fun you can have. Anyone who works here for two years has done well. We run a book in office – Joel runs it. Every time someone joins, everyone bets Rs10 on how long someone will last. If they last a year, the jackpot gets carried to the next year. Only 30% last for a year.

ML: You still have to work with clients for making ad films and convince them… how do you do it?
PK: No, I work on my own terms. By now, I have developed a reputation. Clients who come to me (especially people like Pepsi who are very wary of me right now – they haven’t worked with me in the last two years) are ready to accept me on my terms – they come because they believe I add value to what I do, or they have tried everyone else and failed.

ML: The process of coming to this stage must have been frustrating, right?
PK: Absolutely, but it’s okay, because I have had a lot of fun. I never take myself seriously. The only time I take myself seriously is as a diving instructor, because the life of my students is my responsibility and I can’t fool around with that. The ocean is the most powerful force on earth; it is hugely humbling to deal with the ocean – it is all about becoming part of a larger force by simply letting go. The biggest lesson in life is to learn how to let go.

ML: Is there anything that you want to do, which you have not done yet?
PK: Oh plenty. I want to breed horses; I want to make wine. (The conversation carried on to the elevator door; but, after nearly three hours, one had to stop somewhere.)


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The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Magazine and Lion Stockletter)