If you recall the iconic ‘Hamara Bajaj’ advertisement that was released in the late 80s, you are already a fan of Alyque Padamsee’s work. Popularly called the father of Indian advertising, Padamsee—a theatre veteran as well—is often hailed for his out-of-the-box ideas that are evident in his work.
His last book Let Me Hijack Your Mind: Restart Your Life with Freedom—it was published posthumously in 2018—is replete with many ideas, tips, and tricks that prompt the reader to re-examine their views and notions on several spheres of life, thus giving a novel perspective on living. In this interview, we speak to the book’s co-author Vandana Saxena Poria and Alyque’s daughter Raell Padamsee about the book.
Tell us about your experience of working on the book with Alyque.
Vandana: It was the most incredible experience. Alyque had no idea what the book would be about before we wrote it—he just knew he had a book in him. So we would just talk and I would record all our conversations. We would push and provoke each other to get deeper insights into everyday situations. For example, he would say he was unhappy about the state of the world. We would then drill down into exactly what was upsetting him, for example the fact that some people live really well and some are in abject poverty. We would then go into ‘But why is the world like that?’. Then, we would move into what could be done about it. All of this would happen in the space of 30 minutes, with many great examples from Alyque’s zany life.
What was your response after reading it for the very first time?
Raell: Actually, dad had spoken a lot to me about the book and its title. In fact, we collaborated together on the title... this was obviously way before. Yes, when I finally got to read the manuscript, I was quite overwhelmed by the magnitude of the ideas that were focused on. There were lots of interesting and diverse ideas, which gave birth to a lot of positive thinking. For instance, when I first heard about the marriage licence renewable every five years, I was quite taken aback. But when I thought about it in detail, I said what a great idea it was, and could be applicable to everything one does in life
to relook, reassess, and readdress.
There are several ideas discussed in the book. Were there any disagreements [between Alyque and you] about any topic explored in the book?
Vandana: Oh, there were huge disagreements! Initially, Alyque was convinced that men’s aggression and sexual urges could not be controlled. I showed him research on how it could be, and therefore we could deal with a number of challenges differently. He was always open to being corrected, as long as I had evidence or a strong thought process behind it. There were also various unspoken dialogues that we went through and deciding which ones to put in the book were tough.
How do you think the book would be helpful for the youth?
Vandana: I think we were both keen to dispel myths about the past and get people realising that just because a rule was made by someone at sometime in the past, it does not mean we have to live with it like that. We can make a mental change which will lead to a physical change. And that was Alyque’s real hope… Most of all, it [the book] will give the youth an opportunity to breathe again and realise that they do not have to live with one foot in the past, swallowing outdated thinking. They can breathe in new ideas and change the world!
Raell: I think the book is important because I don’t think there is anything like this out there for the youth to be exposed to the kind of lateral thinking that he was so good at. You know, you don’t have to buy into everything he said, necessarily. But there are a lot of areas that you can apply within your workplace, within your personal life, within your integral internal life, which is most important.