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Posts Tagged ‘Sharat Kuttikat’

Lunch is usually followed by desserts. But at Happy, desserts happen over a game of carrom. Ram leads the way followed by Kartik. The others join in. Cries of  “shot machaa!” and careful instructions of how to shoot follow. If however, it’s one of those Chennai Vs Kerala matches, things heat up. Viduthalai becomes the sole custodian of the Chennai flag, while Gopi holds up a coconut. It’s nothing short of war. They might be ardent fans of football or cricket otherwise, but while playing carrom, they’re professionals with just victory on their minds. If you happen to be walking past our office on one such day, don’t let the loud cries frighten you. It’s not a violent client meeting or flying tempers, it’s just a game of carrom in progress.

The girls however don’t find the game too engaging. But on the good days, decide to come and cheer their favourite players. Talking about favourites, Michael Stanley a.k.a Vimal is a champ. The Striker. His team always wins. Kartik is the underdog, whose winning streak has got many wondering if his position (as the boss) has got anything to do with his success. He denies it with the kind of conviction he would sell an idea with. He believes that there cannot be a fluke winner in a game of Carrom. Viduthalai startles every time Kartik says that. Praddy comes early to office these days to practice Carrom, and hopes to overcome his colour blindness when it comes to coins. But he has definitely identified his retirement plan already.

The game has become so addictive, the ‘regulars’ at Happy are planning a Carrom competition very soon. As if the loud cries weren’t enough. Arathi is checking with vendors of sound-proof windows. Kartik is planning to talk to the lawyers about a possible anticipatory bail. Meanwhile, Ram has declared that there will be a Doubles event too, and now Vimal is flooded with ‘offers’. As for the Singles event, they are planning to run a Contest for the spectators – to guess who will come second.

P.S: Sponsors are invited for the Annual Happy Carrom Tourney. For details, get in touch with the ‘Board’ of Directors.

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Coming back from a long vacation, it was only fair that January be as exciting as a post budget Sensex. A bugle call for a team meeting and a round of applause for the new business win flagged things off. Happy was chosen as the worthy partner by Diesel, and the account was finally active. Thanks to the new Diesel campaign, “Be Stupid” became the official buzzword. Soon, status messages were just ridiculous modifications of the Stupid philosophy. The office was alive with buzz, deadlines and a little seen phenomenon at Happy – conference room discussions, neat plans and charts, media schedules and table sheets. Happy started resembling a local liaison office of the FBI. Carrom games started becoming a rarity. An increasingly grumpy Vimal made gallons of black coffee. Vidu let go of his PG accommodation to move into the office. Gopi was fighting with existential dilemmas. The studio would’ve easily been mistaken for a forward camp in Iraq. It was settled once and for all that the relative superiority of a Mac or a PC depended on the humanware using it. After many a late night and skipped public holidays, we finally delivered the goods. The client loved it. Party is what the doctor ordered, and boy, we had a lot of them coming up.

First it was Namita’s birthday, and Praveen was a more-than-happy host for the whole Happy bunch. People drank, danced and drank more. Sharat’s mission to Kerala was as happy as a Karan Johar movie (no, not his latest one), and he returned with his bride to Bangalore for the reception planned for all and sundry. Needless to say, the Happy bunch decided to add this to their list of parties. Once more, Kartik’s Scorpio was tanked up, and in no time, we were all at the reception. But for Rishi’s love-at-first-sight encounter (almost), the evening was devoid of any interesting events.

The mood for revelries continued as there were back-to-back birthdays of Rishi and Sanaa. At Happy, we have perfected the soon-to-be-Olympic-event of cake smashing. More cake is smeared on the face of the birthday boy/girl than is consumed. The victim could also be an over enthusiastic spectator of the action (it is commendable that the intended victims take it with all the dignity possible and even make valedictory speeches). It’s the same with rain, rape and cake smashing. If you can’t escape it, enjoy it.

Last on the list of the parties was the mother of them all. It was our very own Sankalpa’s wedding. This party ended up being special because the Happy bunch decided that the night was still young, and came back to the office at midnight and worked (drank too). The next day was the Matrix day at happy. People were spotted wearing all sorts of shades possible. As people sipped coffee, lemon tea and made frequent trips to the toilets, one thing was clear – all work and all play makes jack a jackass. Meanwhile, there were two curious characters who were hanging around the Happy office. One was a budding illustrator from Baroda, and the other, a lawyer who probably got confused between copyright and copywriting.

The month had a few more deadlines in store. Deadlines of a different sort. For once, we didn’t have to fry our brain cells and be creative for this. We just had to send out the fruits of our hard labour for the Asia Adfest. Sharat was back from his wedding break, and got on to filling the online forms straightaway. There were some last minute photographs to be taken, desperate phone calls for authorization letters, and by evening, it was all done. The payments were made, forms filled and packages were sent just in time. All that is left now is to keep our fingers crossed. And to hope that there will be more celebrations (not to mention, alcohol) coming our way.

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Last week, we had another reason to take a break from work, football and recession, and just play like kids again. A farewell party for Rajesh. Now when all of us had thought bubbles about ol’ monk, potato chips and chicken, Praveen suggested we have a costume party. And promptly Kartik suggested a theme of fantasies: Back to School. We had just about half a day to get our stuff together, and man, did we get our act together the next morning! Sharat’s family got blacklisted by the apartment committee. Auto drivers fought to give Bhavna a ride. Jayan’s face looked like skinned chicken. Praveen got stopped by traffic cops. And our neighbours kept their kids indoors. None of us could wait for the evening. We all sat at the edge of our seats like we were all forbidden our bathroom breaks. Rishi and Sanaa flew paper planes. Loki kept polishing his shoes. And Jayan fought with Pradeep over a Lollipop. For those wondering where the man of the hour was, we are still not sure where he went. Rajesh went missing during lunch and showed up 4 hours later – high-spirited and mad. He hugged the innocence out of every school kid and brought the Happy house down with his ridiculous amount of cheer. And then the bell rang. All the kids lined up for the class photo. Rajesh gave not one, but a hundred speeches – about Happy, about Kartik, about Praveen, about Ogilvy, about Iyer and Das at Happy. Overwhelmed from all the nursery rhymes dedicated to him, Rajesh got up on a chair, stood tall and sang the English alphabet song and almost got it right. No one knows whose bright idea it was to have an arm wrestling tournament at 11 at night. But in 15 seconds we were all on our knees, wrestling it out for the top prize: Respect. Loki beat a football star. Sharat let Sanaa win. Kartik forfeited. And Ram remained the undefeated arm wrestling champion, giving him enough reason to do what he loves best – dancing. All of us joined him indoors to save the neighbours from further damage. Praveen danced with the wall clock. Rajesh bumped into everyone. Pradeep rocked it with Jayan, forgetting the Lollipop incident. Some things just never get old at Happy. Whatever said and done, Rajesh will leave a void at Happy. Of roadside noodles, bad jokes, trekking stories and the general (infectious) enthusiasm. We wish him all the very best for his next big journey at McCann-Erickson and may he always be happy.

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Whoever said that Thursdays are boring, clearly didn’t write the script for us Happy folks. A pleasant surprise awaited us this morning when we stepped into our office.

Bhavna’s prayers were answered. Rajesh’s hopes had come true. The world of ideas had a reason to celebrate. Happy had made it into the D&AD 2009 shortlist!

Our ‘Skinny Jeans’ entry in the ‘Packaging Design’ category was selected to appear in D&AD’s 2009 Annual. And this feat feels even more remarkable because only 7% of the entries were selected to appear in the annual this year. To get our own creation chosen by the prestigious D&AD jury as a definitive record of creativity for the year 2008 is an unbelievable high for us.

So kudos to Kartik, Praveen and Ram for giving us this chance to celebrate with them.
Even though this validates all our efforts over the last year, it also drives us to push ourselves more, break more barriers and search harder for that elusive perfection, all within ourselves.

Meanwhile, let’s bring out the ready-mix. Vimal!!!!!!!!!!!!Lee Skinny - D&AD Finalist

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A week before the much-anticipated Goafest 2009, almost everyone at Happy spent long hours preparing for a trip unlike any other: Sharat shopped for sun screen lotions and three-quarters, Bhavna got a new hair cut, Rishi bought a pair of Aviators and Jayan ate apples instead of beef fry. Not to mention a couple of chest and bikini waxes. The entire team was itching to be at Goa.

An urgent election campaign requirement that surfaced at the eleventh hour ensured the whole team couldn’t travel together after all. So the Happy team decided to split up, with one-half attending only Day Two of the Goafest. But that didn’t quite bust the bus trip. With our uproarious leader Jayan in charge, we were all guaranteed a good time. Few minutes down the road, the bus filled with the very familiar smell of good ol monk; and Pradeep christened us with new names exclusively for the trip. Sanaa became Shanta; Sharat – Deepu; Jayan – Vasu; Rishi – Shibu; Bhavna – Pinky; and Pradeep – Sebastian. Couple of bottles, a very bad Bollywood flick, and a thousand bad jokes later, we stopped for dinner where Sanaa had to pay to pee, Jayan giggled over chicken curry and double omelettes, and Pradeep and Sharat became best friends with the mallu (but of course) waiter, Asif. Back in the bus, Jayan continued to comment after the bad dialogues from the hindi movie being played, in between shouting out our trip names to make sure none of us slept off (All of us secretly thanked Pradeep for having these pseudo names that saved us from embarrassment). Finally, after Jayan got warnings from the bus conductor, we all got some sleep.

Day One

More than the Villa, it was the swimming pool facing the villas that appealed to us. As much as we wanted to dive in immediately, we decided to head to the fest directly and register. After a whole lot of drama – thanks to Rishi locking himself out of his own room and having to wait for the house owner to help him reunite with his luggage – in an hour, we were all at the fest sipping our beers, and just randomly looking around for familiar faces. Jayan went mad with excitement meeting his old friends; Rishi couldn’t stop himself from clicking away; Pradeep pulled his ol invisible trick and snuck behind a coconut tree with a bottle of chilled beer; Sanaa got introduced to way too many people and Bhavna went insane trying to get cigarettes.

After a quick dekko of the ‘ad village’, we walked in to the display rooms to see all the work, and there we realised that Happy had two nominations – Packaging Design (Lee Skinny Jeans) and Print Craft: Illustration (Nirvana Show Reels). After celebrating our nominations with beer and lunch, we headed out for the first seminar by Jean Marie Dru, Chairman of TBWA Worldwide. Bhavna couldn’t pay enough attention ‘cause she was too excited about meeting Sir John Hegarty at The Leela for a drink after the seminar (Thanks to an SMS contest by Campaign India). After an hour of witnessing some really cool work – Adidas, Pepsi, Pedigree, Absolut and Apple, we all headed to The Leela. As Sharat stood there admiring the golf carts and begging the security to give him a ride, Bhavna headed out with the other contest winners for her drink with Sir John Hegarty. Next thing you know, Rishi’s at it again, making super models out of Jayan and Pradeep. As John Hegarty learnt about Happy the idea shop, inside a cozy Leela suit, the rest of us fought mosquitoes and heavy eyelids.

Back in the villa, we were all in the pool, making plans for the night. Jayan swam like a corkscrew. Sanaa taught Rishi how to float and Sharat refused to get out of the kiddy pool. Bhavna set out for the fest for the media party with her girls. The rest of us headed to Colva Beach for a night full of exquisite seafood, King’s beer, and imaginary islands. Pradeep chased crabs, Sharat argued about the position of clouds, and Rishi did such a good job clearing the prawns off the table that we seriously considered replacing the maid at Happy.

Day Two

Ram and Vimal show up, and heads directly to the pool. As the boys got wet, Sanaa whipped those eggs like she’s been doing it her whole life. The next hour went by in a buzz. Showers. Toast. Juice. The hunt for the missing delegate pass. Arguments with cabbies. And we all just about managed to make it to the Sir John Hegarty seminar. A wonderful knowledge and learning seminar on why this was the best time to be in advertising. Soon after, we all headed to the bar, preparing ourselves for the rain dance. The waterworks began and suddenly all the men deserted the bar and had their eyes glued to the bikini-clad white chicks getting wet all by themselves. It didn’t take too long before everyone hit the dance floor and the temperature rose by a 100 degrees. Rishi kicked himself for not having a camera with better zoom lens. Ram got down and dirty with everyone else on the floor. And Jayan got forced onto the rain dance floor by some of his buddies. The rest of us had lunch.

Meanwhile, up in the sky, Kartik, Praveen and Rajesh were snoring away on their way to Goa, getting some rest for the 14 hours of madness ahead. And then Campaign India delivered more good news. Another SMS contest won by Jayan and Sanaa – to meet Dan Wieden and get a copy of the W+K brand book. Jayan was as excited a teenager in an adult video store. And Sanaa wasn’t quite sure how to react, as always. Soon after the Dan Wieden seminar, the Campaign India editor escorted the 10 contest winners to the Goa Festiva restaurant for a drink and a chat. And in just half an hour, the rest of the Happy team were buzzing like the bees during mating season.

The team headed back to the villa to freshen up for the Abbys. Sporting Happy tees and blue jeans, the team set out for the Abbys in style and good spirit. We bagged bronzes for both nominations – Lee Skinny Jeans in Packaging Design and Nirvana Show Reel in Print Craft: Illustration. Everything is a blur after that. Dinner. Beach. Free alcohol. Confusions. Dancing. More Alcohol. More Arguments. Two cabs. Two destinations. And a whole lot of drama. Rishi wanted to dance. Sanaa didn’t care. Rajesh didn’t understand why people were talking instead of dancing. Pradeep and Sharat wanted to sit by the beach and have more arguments about the position of clouds. Bhavna wanted to go to Baga. Jayan wanted to go home to get rest before his early morning flight. Praveen wanted turtles and Kartik wanted us to stick together. Meanwhile, Ram, who had been dancing since the rain dance in the afternoon, decided to take rest for he too was on that early flight to Bangalore. Whatever arguments and misunderstandings, this is what happened after: Bhavna cursed her bladder every 5 minutes during a one and half hour drive to Baga. Rishi got scarred for life at Mambos after watching a white chick flash a random guy on the dance floor. As Bhavna partied away till 8 am, the rest of the boys slept on the beach. Pradeep went jogging on the beach early morning as Rajesh semi-consciously motivated him. And Vimal counted the number of fishing boats like his life depended on it. Rishi stared at the sunrise, still shaking his head in disbelief about what he saw at Mambos.

Monday Morning, Happy

The team walked in with knowing smiles, an obvious tan, and a nasty hang over. Some complained of a body ache. While others just couldn’t stop smiling away recollecting all the madness that was Goa.

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Food takes up a hallow spot in the list of priorities for the Happy folk.

We don’t think of food as a mere nutrition provider; forget bare necessity. We elevate it to a status of a religion. It brings us together, binds us together and pretty much gives us the drive to kick the football around in our room. The way to a man’s heart might be through his stomach, but for us the heart resides in our stomach. We clutch our stomach when we have a heart ache, ala Das.

The show of camaraderie on our Round Happy Table would put King Arthur’s to shame. We, of the Order of the Bulging Waistline, may not be the quickest to rescue a damsel in distress but we would definitely be the quickest in recommending the best beef fry joint for her!

Anthony Bourdain need not travel the world to taste the different cuisines of the world. He just need to come to one of our lunch sittings. From thatte idlies to thai green chicken curry, from roadside egg pepper noodles to fish biryanis, there are very few things that has given the Round Happy Table a miss. And if the range was not enough, we mix ‘n match with our food to come up with new cuisines like Chindian, Malayatinental, Philipinadu to name a few.

The session normally begins to Jayan’s bellows or to the roar of Ram’s stomach. Our lunches are anything but a sub-100 decibel affair. It’s a melting pot of anecdotes, jokes, impromptu mimicry, novel business proposals (like Rajesh’s Gourmet Curd rice business) and much more. We also do think up the days to observe, like ‘Shouting Day’ for example, as Bhavna unfortunately found out. Deep discussions about the shortcomings of chicken cooked with skin are held here. Followed by impromptu decisions to have ice-creams of a radio active color.

Food is not shared here; it is plundered off other’s plates and lunch boxes. Everything is fair in Food and War. The Round Happy Table. It’s the closest we have for a war room and we sure do love it. The fact that it’s always been made sure that everyone has lunch together everyday adds to the charm. It gives us a chance to comment on the day gone by and ask other’s opinions on the asinine things one had to endure.

The Round Happy Table is one of the bedrocks we have in our office. It has witnessed Karthik’s rise from an Easy to Medium level in Guitar-Hero. It lent firm support while we wrapped and sent off all our entries to the One Show, D&AD and Goafest. And saw quietly while we polished off many an Old Monk.

Everyone and anyone is welcome to the Round Happy Table. Even the aunty next door – who’s in love with Ram.

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The season is slowly coming to a nervous finish. Who will win? Who takes the honours? Are there any underdogs? Or will the expected walk away with the trophies? For the next couple of months, tempers will rise to unfathomed altitudes. A few of us at Happy will be generally restless. And it’s not the One Show, D&AD or Cannes results. It’s football.

For the handful of English Premier League (EPL) football supporters at Happy, the coming months will cause a few heartbreaks. Because only one team can win. Could be Jayan’s Manchester United. Could be Sharat’s Liverpool. Or even Vimal’s Arsenal. To the uninitiated, these three superpowers of club football are well and truly alive in the remaining big-ticket events of the season – the Premier League and the Champions League. And with the exception of Liverpool, the other two teams also have the FA Cup at stake. Quite a mouthwatering proposition (to the die-hard football fan, of course).

And while the action happens in Europe – some hundred thousand miles away from Domlur – the fanatics of football at Happy have already started the show of support. Jayan sports his Man United t-shirt every now and then. Vimal is busy reading up news and stories about the league; in another room, Bhavna screams for her Vada-pav that never came. Rajesh made a late entry and pledged his support for Chelsea. Sharat’s got Steven Gerrard on his desktop. So Jayan responded with a Wayne Rooney on his monitor. The duel goes on.

Come May, the long wait to the crown will be over. Who will be the undisputed champion? If it’s Arsenal, Vimal will do the dappankoothu. If it’s Liverpool, Sharat will throw a party again and the neighbours better call up the Kops. If it’s Manchester United, boy. This writer cannot predict what all Jayan might end up doing. His screams could well be heard at Old Trafford. Come May, Happy will bear a resemblance to Wembley.

Who will blow the final whistle?

Sharat's desktop

Sharat's desktop

Jayan's desktop

Jayan's desktop

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