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Guest Article: Neville Balsara and his penchant for bikes

A heartfelt article by Sampat Kumar, creative director with Watermelon Advertising, on India's great adman, who passed away earlier this month

Sampat Kumar
Watermelon Advertising

Neville & #BANNER1 & # (Balsara) was in the wrong profession.

He should have been racing motorbikes at the Isle of Man TT. As luck would have it, he became an art director. The closest he came to his passion for racing was probably the time we did an ad for Suzuki Racing, when Kevin Schwants won the World 500cc Championships.

We did a few motorcycle ads together and had some great conversations on racing and aero-modelling while we nibbled on chicken legs at Noorani's.

Shamin Desai would be there, too. Desai and Neville had joined Ambience Publicis together from Rediffusion DY&R. Desai brought with him his sense of loud fun, while Neville was the quiet guy who would have these intense conversations on his passions.

& #QUOTE1 & # I remember at that time, Ambience Publicis was collaborating with FCB and some of their dudes from the NY office were down here. Neville used to hang around a lot with them. On a subsequent trip, this FCB guy handed over a packet, which Neville opened gleefully to reveal a pair of brand new Timberland boots. He had a way with people.

He was not your usual art director type. He wasn't ambitious, or dying to become this or that. Nor was he after awards, although he won quite a few. He just did his work (which he was damn good at), so he could get the freedom to follow his passions - aero-modelling, motorcycles and food, not necessarily in that order.

The last time I met him was about 10 months ago, when I was at the Lowe office. Knowing he was around, I peeped in to say hi. But having nothing much to do for the rest of the day, hung around for a couple of hours, discussing what else, but motorcycles and the ad for Kawasaki, which had motorcycles and planes in it. This was pretty orgasmic stuff for Neville. When I was leaving , I promised him I'd drop in on a Sunday at the race course to see him fly his aero-models. I couldn't keep my promise.

He must be somewhere in heaven, deep in conversation with Mike Hailwood.

Adios, Neville.

2006 agencyfaqs!

The writer is a creative director with Watermelon Advertising.

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