He is utterly creative

A toast: Ad man Rahul daCunha says the Amul moppet helped him sharpen his ability to comment or joke without malicious intent.

Rahul daCunha

In 1993, Rahul daCunha inherited the advertising account of Amul from his dad, Sylvester daCunha, when he took over as creative director of daCunha Communications. Week after week, Amul’s blue-haired cherub in a red polka-dotted dress urges you, with utterly, butterly charm, to chuckle over current issues, from the worlds of sports, films, politics, finance et al, helping you overcome your anger and frustration with what is happening in the world around you.

And, peopled with characters picked straight out of the week’s headlines and presented with a large dose of humour, Zara Hatke, his column, brightens up Sunday mornings with its irreverent look at the shenanigans of the high and mighty, the antics of glamorous film stars, sports celebrities, or even tribulations of daily life.

But even before he turned social and political commenter through his column, Rahul had started expressing himself by writing plays, which were initially adaptations of Western works and later originals.

He has to his credit plays like Class of 84, I Am Not Bajirao, Pune Highway, Six Degrees Of Separation, 27/11, The Siddhus Of Upper Juhu...

Recently, Rahul stepped into new territory, co-writing a musical — #SingIndiaSing — with Bugs Bhargava Krishna for a theatre festival., which is both satirical and entertaining, while exposing the devious games behind so-called talent and reality shows.

Here are some excerpts from an interview...

Your satire is sharp but never nasty. How do you manage to make a point without being unduly harsh?

I think my approach to life has always been to see the humour in situations. Like my friend comedian-writer Anuvab Pal says, “You know it’s a Rahul daCunha piece of work when it has jokes in it.” So, my approach is to mask seriousness or social comment through satire or humour, which permeates through my writing in various forms, be it columns, plays or Amul ads.

Writing is also my livelihood and my hobby, in different avatars. My inner rage is calmed down by my two cats, Tina Turner and Jack Johnson.

You grew up with the Amul moppet. Did she sharpen your sense of humour?

The Amul moppet didn’t necessarily sharpen my sense of humour, but she did help me sharpen my ability to comment or joke without malicious intent.

What made you write the play #SingIndiaSing, which also carries serious undertones: a desire to write a musical or a wish to expose the machinations of talent and reality shows?

At the outset, Bugs Bhargava Krishna and I decided we wanted to do a musical that would have minimum dialogue. That automatically meant that #SingIndiaSing would have more songs than normal musicals, in this case 29. We also wanted to write a story about characters in a talent-cum-reality show caught in a web of deceit in the pursuit of fame. Therefore, the world was always going to be dark but exciting. Also, this world naturally lent itself to songs.Besides, India had never had an original musical centred around this world… and we had never written lyrics before. So, we gave it a shot, and it worked!

 

From adapting Western writing for the Indian stage, you have graduated to original writing with a delightful sprinkling of Indian colloquialisms. Was this
deliberate?

Around 2001-2002, I felt that I’d had enough of adapting foreign stories to the Indian milieu. I really wanted to tell Indian stories. Our stories. But mainly stories from my city, Mumbai, where there is drama in every street corner. I thought a play about my life or characters I know would be an easier beginning — and thus was born Class of 84, in 2003. That’s where it started.

Is writing cathartic for you, helping you to curb the rage within?

Yes, for sure. Writing is also my livelihood and my hobby, in different avatars. My inner rage is calmed down by my two cats, Tina Turner and Jack Johnson. But I find writing lyrics truly cathartic! Also, since I did not direct my own work this time ( Nadir Khan was at the helm), the stress levels were lower than otherwise.

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He is utterly creative

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