Saturday, February 7, 2009

Angles in Public Relations

In Bodhi Space, Mumbai, I could see this girl’s eyes following me. I was with Jitish Kallat then. We were watching a few paintings by noted artists like Sujith SN, Gulam Md Sheikh and N.N.Rimzon. Jitish was curious about the new name, Sujith SN. Then Reena Saini Kallat entered the same hall. I smiled at her. She shook hands with me before running after her child who would just like to get out of the place.

Outside the hall, in the corridor I met several acquaintances and the girl’s eyes were still following me. I knew, she would come to me and ask me something at any time. Then she did approach me.

“Are you one of the artists in the show?” she asked me.

“No, I am not. I am just a nobody who knows the artists,” saying this I smiled at her. She too smiled at me with a sense of understanding. Then she just drifted away and vanished in the crowd.

There are several enigmatic girls in the art crowd. Who are regular at art show openings know these girls but never ‘know’ them quite well. But this girl was not of that type. I knew who she was though I did not know her name or the organization, which she worked for.

She is a PR girl. A Public Relations girl. As you know, her job is to spread the word about the program that her company has undertaken for publicity. She arranges meetings between artists and journalists. She sends the press releases to the concerned people. She makes sure that her photographer takes the pictures of the ‘who is who’ in the society in general and the art world in particular. She uses her extra charm over telephone to get the journalists on time for the interview. She follows them up with coaxing calls to make sure that the interviews are appeared on time.

She is a phantom personality. You see her there in the openings, standing in the sidelines. She is professionally committed so she keeps an aloof attitude.

She is a human being so we see even behind the powdered up face and well lined eyebrows and eyes, a deep sense of loss. Her cheeks are rosy not because she is so cute but because she is embarrassed at bumping into wrong people like me. She is looking for a celebrity. But she often bumps into people like me who would look like a ‘probable’ and ‘possible’ celebrity.

I understand her embarrassment and the sense of loss and vagueness that she feels when she is at work. She is a PR girl, so she cannot show her sense of loss and vagueness in public.

So she is always cheerful.

But when she sits at the wheel, if she owns a car, or sit at the backseat of a taxi or auto rickshaw, she would press a number, which she would definitely have been itching to press the whole day. It could be that of her boyfriend or soul mate or her mother.

“I am coming in a while. Wait for me and I love you,” must be the words that they say once they are relieved from the duty.

Back home, she would wash her face and she would look at the muddy water mingled with make up powders and creams making swirling movements in the wash basin drain. She washes clean a day with cold water. Then she raises her head up and looks at the mirror. There she sees the girl, who does not PR for her soul.

I like them because they are very devoted people. Their job is such that they need to work on different stuff on each passing day. One day they PR for an artist, next day they PR for a movie. Another day is for a concert. And they do know most of the people involved in the field. If they don’t know, they have techniques to know them.

Slowly they know a world that never belongs to them.

The clinging of vine glasses and clanging of bangles and the rustling of silks become music to their ears. May be over a period of time this music makes them cold to the same music. They develop a philosophical attitude towards the luxuriousness of life.

They dream of a life where words are meant to be said, not to be rehearsed and presented.

They dream of a life where smiles are smiled from heart, not from the vicinities of lips.

They dream of a life where eyes glitter while looking at the grace of life, not at the triggering sounds of the shutterbugs.

She comes to the field when she is quite young. Fresh from college, all stars in eyes, she is ready to do any job within the given situation. Most of the PR girls choose this job not because they want to become PR girls, but because it is one of the avenues where you can prove your organizational capacities without too much of training.

In other professions, training precedes the job. Here in PR, training succeeds the job. Every day is a training day.

You learn the hard and f****ing rules of a glamorous world bit by bit. You swallow a bitter pill with a smile on your face.

She enjoys it because it is from here that she learns life and she ascends in her life.

When she is fresh in the job, her tag line shows, “I am busy. Another Happy Day.”

After a few days, she writes, “I am tired, Wants to quit’.
Then it becomes Bob Dylans’ lines.

Then it is quotable quotes.

When she is seasoned and trained enough, her tag lines don’t change that often. She likes to speak of life through the tag lines.

I like PR girls. I like to watch them. They are like the make up and costume staff in a shooting location. They are needed there. But need not be so visible.

PR girls are beautiful. But they are not more beautiful than others even if they are.

(My observations could be wrong. I would like my ‘PR Girl Friends’ like Sumedha and Shilpa to shed light on this subject more)


Sumedha Dhasmana said...

I like the manner in which you have portrayed Public Relation Angels. I do agree with the fact that this is one industry where one doesn’t require lofty educational qualifications but then some kind of Media background and expertise is indeed important. Being present during events is just one aspect. I believe writing is the basic step which if goes incorrect can hamper all further PR activities like pitching the story, coordination and client servicing etc. Talking on the emotional front, one may feel odd to be on work at a time when others are enjoying but then many of us wouldn’t even go at similar events provided at a personal level hence there should not be much fuss about it. With the realization of responsibilities one gets completely engrossed in the various tasks of interview and photographs coordination and this is what a PR person loves. The joy of a successful event is above any other pressure or formality. One sticks to PR not because of the lure of money but because love for the profession. It’s a serious business and all it requires is commitment and rest almost everything can be cultivated.

renuramanath said...

hi johny,
was missing one of your peppy reads ! keep it up !