Keegan Pinto, Creative Head (West) & NCD - Branded Content, FCB Ulka talks about the importance of dreaming big but also the importance that reality plays in fortifying those dreams because, ‘Dreams are best fuelled by reality.’
I was a musician at 14. I sang for a ‘beat group’. That’s Binglish (Bandra-English) for ‘band’. And then came the rock band. Hair longer than I have today. But where there’s Pink Floyd, there’s coming back to life.
I learnt that I couldn’t earn rock-music-money while rock-music-money still continues to be an oxymoron. I was too much of a middle class boy to go lower middle class. So, I got a haircut without my mum asking me to do so. And went to New Zealand for a post-grad in creative advertising. Activated and whittled another skill of generating creative branding and communication ideas, and making the sale of products interesting. And got myself a real gig. A job.
At the back of my heart, I always wanted to get back to music. But I wanted to do it the right way, alongside a good life. I wanted to have the money to live a decent life and the money to finance my music journey, because the path I was treading entailed richly-produced music that would cost some money. Bollywood was my path (it has always been, honestly. I’m the most Laxmikant-Pyarelal guy I know).
Little did I know that my music would literally come out of advertising, leave alone only the funding for it. More so, from Lifebuoy! I obviously didn’t do the ‘tandurusti ki rakhsha karta hai Lifebuoy’ jingle, so read on.
I was at Lintas and we were shooting the typical keetaanu-type film (it was a great film by the way), and my director was Amit Roy. We got talking over coffee and keetaanu, on set, wherein we were sort of ranting about our hidden passions. Amit confessed he was actually a full-on Bollywood guy, and that he had started working on a feature film. I confessed that I was actually ‘a musician, bro’. And as the cliché goes, the rest is history.
I asked Amit if I could give his film a shot, and asked him to brief me on 'a situation'. The film’s title he said, was ‘Running shaadi .com’. It was about two guys who start an elope-and-marry service. Who wouldn’t fall in love with such an idea! The situation I was being briefed on was their first ‘case’. It was about a girl running away with her Bong boyfriend. This fair-skinned Sikhni was aptly pet-named Milky in the film. Milky running away found us not being able to run away from a hook, that was begging to be written. How could we not do a spinoff of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag! And thus, we wrote Bhaag Milky Bhaag.
I mailed the scratch song to Amit over e-mail (I’m a strong believer that no work gets sold on e-mail but this one was clearly an exception), he loved it, and it was on. Sanam Puri (Ishq bulaava - Hassee toh Phassee) & Sonu Kakkar (Madaari, Babuji zara dheere chalo, London Thumukda) sang it.
Then, I had an idea and a tune for a song called Faraar. I believed the film didn’t have a clear definer in song, at least, at that point in time, and being an advertising guy (and a Lowe guy at that time), I was a sucker for the sincere campaign clarifier. I presented it to Amit, whilst I knew that there was no place in the film. He loved it so much that he found a place for it. Nothing very different from the awesome pieces of pro-active work that we present to clients. If they don’t cost too much money, the agency-marketer ecosystem must find a place for it in the life of a brand. The same thing goes for great talent. If you’re great (and great means hardworking first, plus a little bit of talent. I believe one’s ability to work hard is one's real talent), there’s a place for you over and above 'hiring freezes’. Jubin Nautiyal (Humma - Ok Jaanu, Kaabil hoon yaa - Kaabil, Kuch toh bata Zindagi - Bajrangi Bhaijaan) sang Faraar.
So, that’s a long story short, for a very long journey of the dual-life, day-jobber and nocturnal musician that I am, up to my first big Bollywood debut starring Taapsee Pannu (Baby, Pink), Amit Sadh (Kai Po Chhe, Sultan), directed by Amit Roy also in his debut (DOP for Sarkar, Sarkar Raj), produced by Shoojit Sircar and Ronnie Lahiri (Piku, Pink, Vicky Donor). I truly hope you like the film and the music. It truly is a fun film.
But for all the young dreamers out there, dream real. Get yourself a real job first. Fortify yourself. Your day job will see your starry nights through. Dreams are best fuelled by reality. Not during the times you’re asleep, but during the times you are wide awake, in difficult client meetings, while seeking approvals through millions of rounds and a million changes. What kills you will keep you alive. And suddenly, you will truly have ‘two lungs that will help you breathe’, because you will be awesome at both skills. And that will give you more victories than defeats. We are way past the adage of the 'pay and the passion being two separate things'. I can’t tell sometimes which one is my passion, which one is my getaway, which one is my music, and which one is my glory. Because as Def Leppard said - ‘All I want is everything’.