Obituary: Sheel Saket Passes Away

By Emmanuel Upputuru , ITSA, Mumbai | In Advertising | March 26, 2014
On March 24, the Indian advertising community lost 40 year old Sheel Saket to an illness. He was a client servicing professional, who was working at ITSA as chief executive producer. Emmanuel Upputuru, founder of the agency, and a friend of the gentleman, has penned down an obituary.

Sheel loved helping people. And had answers for everything. Ask him the cost of bricks and he will tell you about four different types, where you can get them and the names of some masons who can do the job.

Sheel Saket

I have been asked to write an obituary for our colleague at ITSA and a dear friend. And I am under pressure, not just because I am a writer, but because it's for Sheel, one of the industry's most interesting men. The eulogy has to be more than just well written; it has to be, as he would say, "Shaandar!"

So I thought should ask Sheel himself. He usually comes up with really whacky ideas. So that's what I did. I checked our exchange of messages on my phone, one of which read: "Hum bhi media mein ek interview denge aapke saath. Ha ha ha."

So here is an exclusive with Sheel Saket, chief execuive producer, ITSA.

I find him in his neatly washed and ironed blue jeans, a crisp but untucked white linen shirt; half sleeves, as always. His longish black shoes point at nothing in particular.


Emmanuel: Thank you, Sheel for the idea. I couldn't have thought of a better one myself.

Sheel: Ha ha, kya baat kartey ho, brother.

Emmanuel: Do you want to tell people where you started?

Sheel: I started with McCaan. There were all the big guns of the industry there at that time. Nikhil Nehru, Sorab Mistry, Santosh Desai, Prasoon Joshi. It was fun. I used to work on Corsa. Then I shifted to JWT. Where I think I worked on Monte Carlo, besides other brands.

Emmanuel: Ashish Chakravarthy (NCD Contract) mentioned your Doberman theory once. What is that, exactly?

Sheel: Brother, it's pretty simple. You see, when a pitch happens, the top brass goes to attend it. However, when the account is signed, the top is gone and only the brass is left. And for the actual work, I used to go - the junior most guy in the agency. And my clients used to ask me, 'Sheel, you guys presented the Doberman. But I see only the kutta here! I was the kutta."

Emmanuel: Ha ha, so true. But you are a Doberman yourself now?

Sheel: Har kutta ka time ata hain! Each dog has his day. Aapko iska faiyda zaroor lena chaiyee.

Emmanuel: Thanks for the idea. People say, you are not a typical servicing guy. Why didn't you join creative?

Sheel: I take that as a compliment. I can do power points if you want and also write beautiful English. But what's the point? I like ideas. And I did try to join creative; if you remember I asked you while you were at Ogilvy.

Emmanuel: I am really sorry I couldn't help.

Sheel: No. No. It's ok. You were leaving Ogilvy at that time.

Emmanuel: But we had fun at Ogilvy, didn't we? I really love the way you handled tough clients. When you joined, there was constant stress on the relationship with Maruti, but you came and charmed the client, Partho and then Mayank Pareek also. That's what I love about you. You can handle anyone - clients, bosses, juniors, creative guys…

Sheel: (laughs)

Emmanuel: One thing I still can't understand, though - We played golf together. You were never a sports kind of guy.

Sheel: I played golf for two reasons. It was fun hanging out with you.

Emmanuel: That's kind of you to say, Sheel. And yes thanks, for the rides to office everyday, you used to pick me up in your Wagon R. It's unbelievable how much time we ended up spending together. But yeah, the other reason for playing golf?

Sheel: The pleasure is all mine, brother. The second reason is, golf is for networking. Do you think all the guys who come to play it love the game? They discuss business… sign it here.

Emmanuel: Remember that old man? His name was Bharat at the Qutub golf course. He didn't want us to play.

Sheel: Uska baap ka golf course hai kya?

Emmanuel: Come on Sheel, you remember the first shot you took? It went like a cover drive. It could have killed him.

Sheel: Are you going to cover this in the interview?

Emmanuel: Of course. There were rumours that you wanted to enter politics. Is that true?

Sheel: Yes. I have a name for the party. Love party. I need a logo. Brother, I want to spread love across the country. I have done the mathematics. My vote bank will be love. Who doesn't want love?

Saket is survived by his wife and two children, a son and a daughter.

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