The ‘brand’ father of advertising (1928-2018)

One of India’s most celebrated advertising professionals, Alyque Padamsee, breathed his last in Mumbai on 17 November 2018, at the age of 90. A multifaceted individual, Alyque’s contribution to the world of advertising was invaluable, and he was often referred to as the ‘Brand’ father of Indian advertising. He created over a hundred brands during his stints in advertising agencies, notably, Lintas, where he worked for 14 years and retired as the Chief Executive.

Alyque Padamsee was born in the Kutch region of Gujarat, and finished his education at the St. Xavier’s College. He had a flair for advertising, and after working for some time in the advertising sector, joined Lintas. His tenure at Lintas saw him at his creative best, and brands like ‘Liril’, ‘Lalitaji’, MRF Muscleman’, ‘Cherry Blossom’, and ‘Hamara Bajaj’, soon became household names. He was one of the earliest to gauge the potential of Television, and produced content exclusively for the medium that was taking shape during that time.

Hailing his contribution to the advertising industry, the Advertising Club of India, Mumbai, conferred on him the honour of the ‘Advertising Man of the Century’. It would be no exaggeration to say that Padamsee revolutionised Indian advertising, and was the only Indian to be voted into the Clio International Hall of Fame, deemed as the Oscars of Advertising. After his stint at Lintas, Padamsee founded the ‘AP Advertising Pvt. Ltd.’, a firm of image and communication consultants that provided consultancy services to a number of national and multinational firms. His services were also requisitioned by several large corporate houses.

Padamsee will also be remembered for his contribution to the theatre movement in the country. He produced and directed over 70 plays significant among them being Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, and Broken Images, and also produced and directed Jnanpith award winning playwright and actor Girish Karnad’s play Tughlak. His play Broken Images, was invited to perform at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC in 2011.

He was awarded the Sangeet Natak Academy Tagore Ratna for Lifetime Achievement. Trained at the Royal Academy of Drama in London, the playwright-director was one of the most acclaimed celebrities in Indian theatre, and his plays were performed in theatres world-wide. An accomplished actor, Alyque Padamsee won critical acclaim for his portrayal of the role of the architect of Pakistan, Mohamed Ali Jinnah, in the multiple Oscar winning production Gandhi, directed by Sir Richard Attenborough. A high degree of civic consciousness was always conspicuous in his activities, and he worked relentlessly for the common cause. He was affiliated to an organisation named ‘Citizens for Justice & Peace’ formed after the Gujarat riots, and was an advisor to the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on commercial TV. He was also associated with the Department of Biotechnology in their AIDS prevention drive, and was a member of the PM’s AIDS Task Force. Alyque was bestowed with the Padma Shri in the year 2000.

While one of Padamsee’s brothers Akbar Padamsee is a very well known painter, his sons Quasar Thakore Padamsee and Shazan Padamsee, and his daughter Rael Padamsee, have all taken after him, and are popular theatre personalities in their own right. Condoling his demise, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his sadness at his passing, and hailed his role as a wonderful communicator, and averred that his extensive work in the world of advertising would always be remembered. He also lauded his contribution to theatre deeming it as noteworthy. Padamsee’s autobiography A Double Life that dealt extensively with his twin passions, advertising and theatre, turned out to be a best seller, and has been prescribed as a text in business schools. A large hearted man, the late advertising genius was also a philanthropist who shunned publicity for his charitable activities, or for his social activism. Alyque Padamsee led a long, fulfilling life, and remained active till the very end.

C.V. Aravind is a Bangalore-based freelance journalist.