The Story Rules Podcast E13: Devaiah Bopanna, Writer of funny stories that go viral (Transcript)

Devaiah Bopanna
5. General

The Story Rules Podcast E13: Devaiah Bopanna, Writer of funny stories that go viral (Transcript)

This transcript has been created using a combination of AI transcription tools and (some painstaking) human effort. Please excuse any typos, grammatical mistakes, inaccurate time stamps, or other errors. Specifically, the time stamps would not account for the intro portion of the podcast.

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Intro hook:

“It was pretty much what you were saying, “what is the most (surprising thing we can do?)”; that was the whole campaign: “As crazy as __” or “As unlikely as ___”; so, it is just that. Take a celebrity (then think) what is the most random, crazy, bizarre thing that you can do or put them in, that you’ve not seen them do before? But the whole idea is that you have to stick to that gag. If you’re making a boy-band, it can’t be a half-assed attempt; you have to actually write a song, you have to make sure that song sounds like a boy-band song, that it’s written like a boy-band song, you have to take all the tropes of a boy-band while writing that song..”

Welcome to the Story Rules podcast with me, Ravishankar Iyer, where we learn from some of the best storytellers in the world, find their story and unearth the secrets of their craft.

Today we speak with Devaiah Bopanna, who happens to be – the former Head Writer for AIB, one of the guys behind the viral CRED ads and overall extraordinary creator.

You know, often at work, when I would get bored, I would press CMD-Tab on my Mac and head off to drown myself in the joys of the internet. Movie reviews and news on, Sports writing on Cricinfo, and of course funny videos and trailers on Youtube. (Of course I was doing all this to learn the art of storytelling)

And on Youtube, while I would have enjoy a variety of creators, perhaps the group that I enjoyed the most was All India Bakchod (or AIB). For the uninitiated, AIB was a comedy collective which created funny sketches and videos on a variety of topics. Some of their well-known series included:
– The Honest series – a seriously funny take on all experiences from restaurants to flights to engineering campus placements to the Big Fat Indian Wedding

– The Bollywood spoofs: Check out the viral one with Alia Bhatt, or their work with Irrfan

– Political satire: the biting one on the news media or the one on elections

It’s really good stuff. I found the quality of their storytelling so good that I don’t think I’ve missed ANY of their sketches (yep, I even liked the Pista one).

I also liked the fact that AIB would always respect its writers and prominently credit them in their videos  (often getting the writers to appear at the end to ask for the mandatory subscribes and likes).

One such writer I noticed in some of those videos was a shy, nerdy looking guy called Devaiah Bopanna. I realised later that he was the Head Writer there

Cut to – a few years later – I came across some funny posts by Devaiah on an unlikely platform – LinkedIn! And I also learnt that he – along with some AIB stalwarts like Tanmay, Nupur, Vishal, Puneet – have been responsible for the crazy viral CRED ads – e.g. the one featuring Rahul Dravid as Indiranagar ka gunda.

And then I decided that I need to get Devaiah on my podcast to get his take on the craft of storytelling. It took some time, but I’m glad that I persisted.

Devaiah is a multifaceted creator and during the conversation, he talks about:

  • His curiosity being his biggest learning driver
  • Why he would think extra hard about the opening in a story
  • How AIB made its stories surprising yet familiar
  • The parts of storytelling where  he personally struggles with

It’s a fun, insightful conversation. Enjoy.

A small note before we begin: There are parts where Devaiah uses some fairly colourful language. Since this is a show for adults, I’ve chosen to keep them in. But please be mindful in case you are listening with young folks around.

Let’s dive in.

Ravi 0:10
Hi, Dev. Welcome to the Story Rules podcast!

Dev 0:13
Thank you so much, Ravi, for having me! Absolute pleasure.

Ravi 0:15
Wonderful. So, Dev, you’ve had a good career in advertising; After that you’ve done some really interesting stuff: You’ve been head writer for All India Bakchod, which is one of the most successful comedy collectives in India, I’m a huge fan of the work that you guys did there. You then co-founded a nonfiction stories platform, and then post that, you’ve been up to lot of interesting things in the world of crypto. But more interestingly, from the world of storytelling, you’ve been part of a team that has created a series of ads that have gone crazy, crazy viral – the Cred series. And so, I want to start with the basic label, right? How do you identify yourself? As a writer, or as a brand storyteller, maybe a comedy writer; How do you think of yourself? 

Dev 1:05
That’s a very good question. Sometimes I get confused, because I’m also producing a lot of things these days, where I’m not (as) creatively involved, (I just get) people together and make things happen that way. But when I look at what I want to do and what I want to be, I just want to maximise myself as a creator. Being a creator, I feel, encompasses more things. If you’re writing, you’re creating stories; if you’re directing, you’re creating what’s being written; and if you’re producing, you’re creating content; with crypto, or with other things, you’re creating wealth. So, I want to define myself as a creator because I think that’s what is at the core of everything that I do. I use the human insights that I keep picking up every now and then, and create something with it and put it out in the world and just get validated. And like any creative person, the only hope is to create work that outlives you. Permanence is what all of us go for. So, that is essentially what I do.

Ravi 2:37
We’re so lucky, right, Dev? To be living in a time where we are in the creator economy, and to have this opportunity to do this. Of course, those who have come that are younger to us are also lucky, but sometimes you feel about our parents (who didn’t have these opportunities) – and I remember a LinkedIn post that you wrote, (saying) that we should really consider ourselves lucky, that we didn’t have to stay put at a job where we had to be there because the bills had to be paid.

Dev 3:07
I feel that we are so blessed, to be honest. Because back in the day, for example, say the 80s, or the 90s – I think in the same post I talk about a lot of things – in the 80s and the 90s, if you’re very funny in a function, they just called you the life of the party. You couldn’t be a stand-up comedian. Yeah, you’re like “He is full of life”, and then you just go back to doing your job that you may or may not like, but you’re forced to take up because you have to put food on the table and fend for yourself. But I think with this whole technology boom that has come in, and also the liberalization that has happened, and India’s population just being so…what do you say? The highest of everything is basically India. The greatest number of poor people, unfortunately, probably are from India; and the highest number of engineers are also from India, right? Our population is so vast that you have the highest of the good and the bad thing. So, I think when you look at this one spectrum, we are all very lucky to be urban, educated Indians. It’s (right now) probably the best time to be in this country. I feel maybe I didn’t live through the 60s, 70s or the 50s of America, but what we’re going through right now is probably what they went through back then, as they were building a nation, and everyone was young and had the correct raw material to put together and achieve great things; (they had the) platforms to make things possible. I was just reading this one thing about Warren Buffet: one thing he says is that “a lot of people attribute a lot of things to me, but I think the most that I wouldn’t have been able to do all this if I hadn’t entered the market in the 40s, just after the Great Depression, when everything was picking up.” So, timing has a lot to do with our success or failures and pursuing passions. I think we’re incredibly blessed to be born in this time in this country, and have access to a lot of cool things that are happening around us. I think that has been the most amazing good luck that can happen to the most of us.

Ravi 5:33
Absolutely, I completely agree with that. That’s a fascinating parallel that you’ve made about the 50s and 60s of America and India; it’s likely to go like that for India with, of course, bumps on the way. But you started life in the conventional way. You started with engineering, and I remember you saying that your dad was a journalist and so there was inspiration (for writing) at home, but how come, still, engineering?

Dev 6:00
I grew up in Bangalore; I finished my 12th in the year 2004. So, if you look at the time period, a lot of lives in India were changing. It changed a lot between 1997, 98 to 2000 – during the ‘.com’ boom.

Ravi 6:27

Dev 6:28
Yeah, the ‘.com’ boom, and then there was a crash. And then in 2002, 03, it started picking up again. What actually happened was, I grew up in Bangalore, and I’m sure that like most of us middle class people back then, while growing up in the 90s, most of us – because of the initial socialism that we followed – most of us had the same amount of wealth in the neighbourhood. Maybe one person had a colour TV, or two phones, or maybe a person had a car; even landlines were not there in everyone’s homes. So, most of us in the 90s in urban India had the same amount of wealth no matter what. (Regardless of if your) parents worked in banks, parents worked in factories, or parents worked in a PSU. But what happened in the early 2000s, is that when software came in, when the wealth started coming in, you saw people’s lives around you change. You’d see one aunty and her neighbour, and suddenly there is stuff from the States in her house, which her son brought home. Then you go to another neighbour, they know a relative whose daughter is an engineer and she works in Oracle, or she worked in IBM and she went on-site in the US, and then you saw a lot of new stuff there. You just started seeing things around you and people’s lives around you changed. You saw better cars; you saw people going out a lot more; you saw people celebrating birthdays by going out to eat. Going out for a birthday was never a thing in 90s India, right? You would make good food at home for that one day, probably, but you never went out with your family. So, you started seeing people’s lives change around you as an urban Indian. And the only answer to all the change was engineering, especially in Bangalore. There was Infosys, there was Wipro; around the same time, I think Azim Premji was the richest Indian, and Narayan Murthy was the second richest. I might be getting my stats wrong. But I think they were the (top two); there was HCL, I think the Nadar family were the fourth or fifth. So even the rich list was (made up of) all the techies, and so you saw techies getting really rich and lives of people around you changing rapidly, and the only reason for all this is technology and engineering. And it was the fastest wealth creator, where (you’ve got) 4 years in engineering, you join an IT course or you join an IT company, (where for) 1-2 years you’re an intern, then you go on-site and you figure things out along the way. Or you go do your MS and then get extraordinarily rich in the States. And wealth was very new as a concept back then, for all of us. I think, at least with me, I was like “Okay, maybe there is passion, but I need the good life.” You didn’t know that money is not the answer to everything back then, and probably urban Indians didn’t know that. Today they know money is not the answer to everything. The first two, three years when you’re making money is the most amazing time in your life, but then you get bored, and then you realize it’s not that worth it. Money does not require being placed at such a high pedestal compared to the other things in life. So that’s why everyone in Bangalore was taking up engineering. I don’t think anyone took up anything other than engineering, and I bit the same bullet.

Ravi 10:14
Fascinating. You mentioned passion, and I know that writing was probably that area of passion. Can you talk about the early influences that made you veer towards writing? Was it the kind of books that you read? Did you do some early writing when you were in school or college? 

Dev 10:31
Frankly, no; it’s a little shameful to admit this, but I didn’t read a lot while growing up. I didn’t read books a lot while growing up, (but) my dad is a journalist. And essentially, what would happen is, I would read a lot of newspapers. And I’m not exaggerating, but I think we’d get about six to seven newspapers daily, and we’d get a couple of other newspapers in the evening as well. So, there would just be newspapers at home, and I would read newspapers front to back every day.

Ravi 11:08
Wouldn’t that be depressing? Because it’s mostly bad news.

Dev 11:11
I think that maybe because I had my dad at home, who would also make this (a) very interesting (activity by) giving me (the) behind the scenes of all the news that was happening. So that context provided a great deal of entertainment when (I was) reading the news. I think, somewhere, that helps. I read a lot of news, and I can probably tell you what happened when Deve Gowda became Prime Minister; I can tell you a lot of things about Karnataka politics, Bangalore politics, or politicians in Bangalore, I’m well versed with those things. That’s because my reading largely centered around politics, sports, and entertainment that came in the newspapers. I didn’t read a great deal. Of course, I read books, but not the amount that my friends, who are writers, used to read when they were young. So, I think reading information (helped), and I think more than information, following your curiosity is a very underrated (thing), you know? Nobody talks about that when they talk about the passion, talent, or those things. It’s usually very easy to say things like writing, music, and everything. I think following curiosity is a skill set. I think that (reading) newspapers and just being hungry for information all the time, and being very open minded about these things shaped me in becoming a writer, perhaps more than reading about stuff. I think those things and curiosity and insights are raw materials that go into writing as the ideas.
I think language is the last thing for me. Different people approach writing differently, but for me, language and grammar or spellings are the last thing. I can always google a spelling. Honestly, I don’t even know spellings properly, even now; if I’m typing then red lines keep appearing and I don’t give a f***, I’ll later go and look it up and change it. Why do I have to waste my mind space learning the spelling of a particular word, when I will always have access to the internet? So, my approach is that (things like) grammar, writing, spellings are the complete absolute last things I need to worry about; the more important thing is your idea, your school of thought, your curiosity. I think those things shine through more in writing. I think those are things that I got hooked on to early on. And maybe that’s why I got very interested in writing as a form of expression, because it used all these raw materials that I had at my disposal in the best possible way to express myself.

Ravi 13:43
This is very interesting, Dev, because I used to read newspapers – of course not so many; maybe the Times of India, maybe Mid-Day; I was also usually a cover-to-cover reader. But it’s interesting when you connect that with curiosity, I’m guessing that has to do with how your dad got you to interact with it. Can you elaborate a little bit more when you say that you’d be reading something and he would make it more interesting for you? (Was it) by saying “Hey, this is actually what’s happening behind what’s being reported here.”

Dev 14:17
Yeah, I would know what he’s writing about. So, if he’s written a very interesting story, or he’s writing a very interesting story, he would always tell me about these things.

Ravi 14:26
Was he mainly a politics writer?

Dev 14:28
Yeah, he largely covered politics, for the longest time; at least, during my growing up years (he did). So, he would always send me what’s happening, what he was writing. Sometimes, if it was very interesting, he would let me in and tell me what it was. So that automatically makes it interesting. And there was no Google back then, but I had a Google at home in the form of my dad, so I would ask him a lot of questions. I think following curiosity is a skill set that I developed early on, which I’m hoping and I’m thinking is what may, or will be, helping me now.

Ravi 15:00
Very, very interesting! Large credit to your dad for fostering that questioning mindset. It’s also easy to say “Don’t ask those questions, you won’t get it.” Because let’s face it, politics can get quite messy. And for, what, a 12, 13-year-old, it’s not going to be easy to (talk about that).

Dev 15:19
I would even accompany my dad on election tours sometimes, like when he does big rallies. I think, when I was growing up, there was one period of time when Prime Ministers kept changing because nobody could prove a full majority till Atal Bihari Vajpayee came in. I think after Narsimha Rao till Vajpayee, there was just a great deal of instability. So, every six months or every year there used to be one big general election. So, I would travel with my dad to coastal areas, here and there, when he’s following the elections to figure (stuff) out. For me, it was mainly a holiday. But yeah, I was that involved in these things.

Ravi 15:59
But with this grounding, you never considered journalism as a career?

Dev 16:04
Actually, I did, but I just felt that advertising is more glamorous. Yeah, I just thought that advertising was more glamorous and more fun.

Ravi 16:19
Was there somebody who was a role model, who introduced you to the world of advertising?

Dev 16:24
It was my dad who put me in advertising. So, after my 12th standard, in Bangalore, you have to give your CET, but there was a big tussle going on between the Education Board and the state government, and so we had about five to six months of holidays before engineering college started. So, my father was, I think, getting very irritated. He used to work from home, and I think he was getting very irritated with me being at home. He was like, “Why don’t you go do an internship in an advertising agency?” and I’d heard of this thing called copywriting or whatever. And then he phoned a friend and he got me an internship in this good agency called JWT, back then in Bangalore; I was about 17 years old. So, I went and interned for two months over there. (Those were some) pretty formative years of my life, so I think those things were very helpful. That introduced me to advertising and then, unfortunately or fortunately, what happened is I saw that world and I saw it was fun. And then when I got into engineering college, every day, I was comparing this to that. I’m like, “Okay, do I want to be there? Or do I want to be here? Is this going to lead me to a path of being there?” That’s how I got introduced to advertising.

Ravi 17:36

And you’ve spoken about your years in advertising on other podcasts. What I’d like to know about is
What is the story behind the transition from advertising to writing for AIB to comedy?

Dev 17:49
Actually, my first (stint with) advertising was 2008 to 2015, the first three, four years were brilliant. It was a lot of fun; I was doing very well. Work was good. I worked with really good people. I had this boss called Vipul Thakkar, I worked with him pretty much for four to five years. But then I was getting a little bored in Bangalore; I wanted a little change in my life, so I moved to Bombay in 2013. And I moved to another agency in Bombay, which I thought was good, but it was just a horrible workplace with really bad work. So, that didn’t do well. Essentially, when you hit your 4, 5-year mark, you have to do start doing really good work, because you’ve put in all the effort of learning, but when I hit that 4, 5-year mark, unfortunately, I got stuck in the wrong place, and I wasn’t doing great work. Whereas all my friends and peers around me were doing good work. So, I finished one year over there and I quit. I’m like, “Okay, this is not happening.” Then I joined another agency, I joined Lowe Lintas. It’s a very good, very big agency. I was trying to make it work over there, but I just wasn’t (into it), I think I lost interest. I think I just got bored; I just lost interest. And there was Facebook back then. I was more interested in Facebook and what was happening over there. Writing for work was not the most important thing, in fact writing a Facebook update, for me, was more fun. So those things were happening, and I honestly didn’t know what to do. Then I thought, “Okay, maybe I’ll just spend a couple of years in Bombay and get back to Bangalore and figure it out.” But somewhere about six months into my second job in Bombay, I heard AIB was looking for writers through a friend, so I went and met the four of them; the roast had just come out, and then I met the four of them, and it was a great meeting. So yeah, that’s how I got into AIB.

Ravi 19:51
In all of this, has humour always been an interest area when you’re writing or thinking? Because journalism can be quite serious, and advertising has all kinds of storytelling. Where did humour get triggered in the journey?

Dev 20:05
So in college, in Bangalore, I used to take part in a lot of these ‘Mad Ads’ competitions, which was, I had to make a lot of people laugh with humour, and somehow I really liked the feeling of making people laugh. It’s just too much fun to do that; I think I like that form of expression the most. Automatically, I think, subconsciously, I started tuning myself to be a funny writer, more so than writing beautifully, or lyrically, or emotionally, and what happens is at a point of time, when you’re continuously doing that, it just becomes like a muscle. You just train your muscle to think in that particular direction, and then it just becomes like a second skin, what you do. Even now, in real life situations, when something really horrible happens, the first thing that hits me is a funny thought, most of the time. And I enjoy the process. So, that’s slowly how I always was maybe training myself to be in comedy.

Ravi 21:12
Were there any other comedians, or writers, whom you used to look up to, especially when it comes to the humour genre?

Dev 21:19
Well, AIB! Tanmay, Rohan, Ashish, Khamba, these are my four idols. And it’s crazy that I got to share an office space with them and work with them on a daily basis. I think they were truly our heroes in 2015, and it was an honour to work with them and learn from them. I think those four were totally killing it.

Ravi 21:42
I agree. And I think it’s unfortunate (what has happened): I remember you saying that the time of the YouTube Collective is gone, and now it’s individual creators; it’s shorts; I loved that period or that time when there was TVF doing its own stuff, and there was AIB and a bunch of others… (there was some) really high-quality storytelling compared to what was happening outside (of the YouTube collectives). It was very, very funny.
There’s a very nice line by Andrew Stanton, who’s a Pixar director, I think; he’s made Finding Nemo and a bunch of other movies. So, it is a famous TED Talk where he starts with a joke, and then he says storytelling is joke telling. It’s all about building up to the punch line. Do you agree that basically when you’re telling a joke or telling something funny, it’s telling a story?

Dev 22:33
Yeah, of course! I think Tanmay keeps saying this in the most amazing way, that “humour is nothing but surprise.” A joke is a surprise; you laugh only because you don’t see it coming. It’s totally unpredictable when it hits you. The whole science of joke writing or storytelling, I mean of writing humour, is that you just try to keep hitting people with a funny thought when they least see it coming. You have to keep building smart decoys, and smart ways to conceal your joke and then lead people down a (certain) way and then hit them with the joke. Basically, I think a good story and narrative is what you need to land good jokes. So, I completely agree with him. It’s a completely genuine thought.

Ravi 23:26
When you moved from advertising to AIB, I heard you saying in another podcast that there was a fairly intense period of unlearning, because you’d been used to doing things in a certain way and here things were done in a different way. Could you unpack some of that? You know, what are some of the skills that you had to unlearn and what were the new skills that you had to pick up?

Dev 23:46
Sure. I think the biggest skill (that I had to unlearn) is that advertising trains you to think inside the box. 

Ravi 23:53
Really?! I mean, isn’t it supposed to be creative?

Dev 23:56
That’s what it looks like, but you have a brief, then you have brand guidelines, then you even have (instructions) like “you have to use this line”. Sometimes “you have to use these characters; you can’t talk about ‘x’, you can’t talk about ‘y’, you can’t talk about ‘z’.” Then they’re like, “Okay, after all this, now go crazy.”

Ravi 24:18
Oh, there was this AIB sketch, I think #AskAIB 1 or 2, where Rohan was doing this with another guy. I remember this.

Dev 24:27
It’s pretty much like that, right? You essentially rip everyone’s wings off, and you tell them “Now fly.” Which is a great skill set, you know, no undermining that. 

Ravi 24:45
So you’re saying that even within those constraints, if somebody is able to do something creative then that’s great.

Dev 24:48
Yeah, that is insane. That’s why I respect really good advertising work, because I know what happens behind the scenes.

Ravi 24:57
Because you know how difficult it is to get it past (the constraints)

Dev 24:57
Exactly. (One needs to first) crack something like that, and then sell something like that, and then make something like that, right? I think that is genuinely insane, if you can do that.
So with advertising, you’re trained to think like that, where (you’re told) “These are your limitations, now figure out what you can do.” But with comedy writing…so I did this for 7 years, and then suddenly, one day I’m told, “Hey, just do whatever you want to do.” And you really don’t know what you can do then. It took a lot of time for me to condition myself to be okay with (the fact that) there’s no brief, there are no guidelines; It’s just thoughts. (I should just) go for the most interesting thought in the most interesting way. I think that took some time to unlearn and learn as a skill set.

Ravi 25:48
Do you remember an example or an incident where you might have struggled?

Dev 25:53
I think, every day for the first 7, 8 months was a complete struggle. At the same time, AIB was making a show called On Air with AIB. So, I would sit with writers – and it was a crazy writing team, I mean, back then these were comedians who were not as famous as they are today; like Zakir, Abhishek Upmanyu, there was a bunch of (people). If you just check the writing lists there (you’ll see) that it’s some crazy all-star team. Writing with those guys, every day you’d learn that you were inadequate. Sometimes, by the first episode I remember I may have contributed one joke in the whole 30-minute segment. But, by the end of the 10th episode, you maybe have one or two jokes, so it’s like that. I think those were crazy times, but that was also the best time where there was good comedy coaching for me; just sitting and working with these minds, trying to compete with them or trying to learn and understand their processes. I think that was a very good phase over there.

Ravi 27:00
It was great that you stuck it through that period, right? Because once you’ve passed through that then it was amazing.
I want to now talk about some specific work that you and your team have done, Dev, and kind of unpack some of the story tools that have been used, because I think there’s a lot of learning – although this is fiction; this is comedy – a lot of learning that we can use in the workplace. I’m going to pick this series, that had a couple of videos, which is called Honest House Parties. Really funny one! Kumar (Varun) is the star there. The first tool that I want to talk about – just for the listeners who have not seen it, of course, I’ll put the video link in the show notes. It’s about how youngsters have house parties and what happens in them; this is part of the honest series of AIB, which is a really funny series, where people actually say what they are thinking, and there’s a huge amount of contrast that happens there – so in this, the first minute, it’s a two-part sketch where the first part is eight minutes. The first minute of the eight-minute sketch is an opening conversation between two youngsters who are looking for a house on rent in Bombay – the most difficult city in the country to get a house on rent in – and a broker. Great look for Ashish Shakya in that, by the way. That one-minute opening is so strong because it just sets the tone, and you do the opening and then there is the announcement of the name, etc. I love that opening, it’s a great lesson for storytellers like us at the workplace, that if you’ve got a big presentation to be made to an audience, think extra long about the opening. How do you plan to open? Will it be – of course, not with a joke, but maybe with an interesting stat, or would it be with a personal story? Will it be with a question? And so on.
I want to talk to you about how you guys approached openings. Was it something where you’d say, “Okay, let’s lay out the opening first”? or you just throw a bunch of ideas out and then figure it out, like “Okay, let’s start with this.”

Dev 29:13
You know, what you said is absolutely right. We put so much effort into it. We call it the ‘cold open’. (The scene) before the title comes in is the ‘cold open’; and the cold open is the most important part of anything that you do on YouTube, because YouTube is just unforgiving. You’re competing with an algorithm that has no emotions. So basically, if your first 30 seconds are weak, the viewer will automatically shut the video and go somewhere else. Honestly, I think the first one minute has to be the strongest (part) in the video to make sure that everything that you do lands, and it also sets context to what is coming up. There’s no point in having a great video that is eight minutes long, which picks up on the second minute, but the first two minutes is just building up (to the joke). Unfortunately, as much as we all love to indulge, the algorithm won’t let you do that. At least, back then (it wouldn’t have). We would think really hard on the cold open; specific to this case, it has a storyline of two guys who find a house and then they decided to throw a house party and eventually – spoiler alert – they get evicted from the house. So that is the thing. We thought the most relatable scene for anyone who’s a bachelor, is looking for a house and a broker. Strangely enough, a scene like this is easier to write because what you’re doing, essentially, is you’re taking a trope, so you know how to write the scene; you have an existing narrative. When you go with a broker to look up a house, usually he’s always over selling, right? He over sells even the bad part and you’re a little skeptical, and you always ask about the rent. Like “What’s the rent?” and he tells you it’s 35,000 Rupees per month, and I don’t have so much, so you try and negotiate over there. And then he tries to put pressure on you by saying that it’s in high demand, others going to pick it up. So, you basically chart out what actually happens in real life.

Ravi 31:28
That’s what you start with.

Dev 31:30
Yeah. So, you talk about what actually happens in real life; what is the trope of that conversation? And what are the points the conversation really hits? So the broker will have a phone, he will do this, he will say this, you will do this; and then you will be like, “Okay”, and then you take that thing and you’ll see how you can turn it on its head. And what is the truth that you’re trying to communicate? Like when you ask for rent – (it’s a line from) from six years ago, but I think the line is like “rent kya hai?” (What’s the rent?) and he says, “G*nd phati per month” (‘You’re screwed’ per month), and this guy’s like “arre utna nahi hai..” (Oh, I don’t have that much…) so they negotiate. Usually, the rent starts off very high, right? So, you think “Okay, how do I communicate 35,000 per month in the most interesting way possible?” then you build on those hooks that you get, which actually happens in real life, and that’s how you craft a scene like that. So, we hope that the opening is the strongest so that people stick through and they get interested enough to go into the other parts of the storytelling.

Ravi 32:36
That, of course, is brilliant. Then there’s the whole point of surprise which you mentioned; I talk hugely about the importance of surprise in data storytelling also. And you guys absolutely nail the art of surprise! I feel that one thing that I see, that people at work struggle with when they try and tell stories, is to employ surprise well. And I think just watching a lot of such good videos will help them to see how people are using (the element of surprise). In this one, for example, the contrast or the surprise, is that people are actually saying what they’re thinking. Normally, this is something that they’re thinking in their mind, but (here) they’re saying it out aloud; the entire Honest series is, I think, built on that, which is very cool.
I just wanted to, kind of do like a sample of how you would approach an Honest series if it is a different area? Let’s say, if you had to do honest airports, then how do you approach it? What would you do? Would you, again, take some tropes and then (work like that, or…?) 

Dev 33:39
There is (a video on) honest flights already.

Ravi 33:40
Yeah, honest flights, I know; I was just thinking of something like maybe honest malls or airports, or whatever.

Dev 33:46
Okay, there’s an airport: what are the most common things in an airport? There’re airport announcements; then as soon as you enter, you stand in a queue. In that queue, what generally happens is that there’s someone hot; then there is someone who is a businessman who’s entitled; Then there is someone who wants to say that he probably gets priority check-in, he tries to go there and then he gets screwed from there, and he comes back and joins the queue; then there are people with big trolleys, some of them are shifting ten suitcases at times; then, finally when your turn comes, you generally try to act cool and ask for an upgrade, and then you are overweight, so you try to charm yourself into asking them to not (have you) pay for the 15 kilos plus luggage that you’re taking. And also from the other side, the person at the counter has an amazing power trip, right? Like she or he can decide if they give you an excuse; if they give you a favour; or if they decide you don’t have to pay for it; or they just let you go; or they give you an upgrade, randomly. These are observations, now all you need to do is to take the scene and start writing jokes in it. If it is, say, 40 kilos per person, you can either do exaggeration and (show) the person giving it being like, “Look, I know it’s 15 kilos and I’m slightly overweight, I’ve just got like 14 tons extra. Is there any way you can let us go?” and then the counter person will be like, “Sir, we’re so happy to have you”, but in her or his mind they’ll be like “Dude, I have to arrange for another aircraft for you to take this whole thing!”
So, you look at all the observations and 2, 3 jokes will come out. Then maybe there’s a security check, where some moron will walk in with a cell phone when it clearly says that cell phones are not allowed; or that security guy will randomly select (someone and say) “You, remove your belt; you, remove your shoe”. You can exaggerate all of them, like “You, remove your clothes” “You, remove your skin”, then you can call a doctor who can do a surgery there to check someone’s heart for a bomb. Basically, you completely exaggerate those (tropes). You take on all the observations that happen in your life, and then you see which one is the most interesting thing that you can milk for a joke, by either escalation or by putting in some writing, and then you build on scenes over there. 

Ravi 36:40
Absolutely amazing. 

Dev 36:42
And usually, you make observations like why does an airport have a mall inside? Why is there a jewellery shop inside the airport? What kind of person would go buy around 40,000 or 50,000 or a lakh worth of jewellery in an airport, while they’re flying into another city where there are probably jewellery showrooms (to visit)? There are so many questions and interesting observations about the things inside an airport that are right for comedy.

Ravi 37:19
This skill that you guys have of observing and looking for the most surprising angle is very cool, which is what you’ve dialled up to the max in the Cred ad series. Where you’ve just said, “Okay, we’ve got Rahul Dravid, and we’ve got Venkatesh Prasad, what will be the most surprising thing about these guys?” I think that’s probably the question that you’ve asked (yourselves). Did you, then, brainstorm a bunch of things until you came to think, “Okay, Indiranagar ka gunda” (Goon from Indiranagar) for Dravid; boy-band for Srinath”?

Dev 37:55
It was pretty much what you were saying, “what is the most (surprising thing we can do?)”; that was the whole campaign: “As crazy as __” or “As unlikely as ___”; so, it is just that. Take a celebrity (then think) what is the most random, crazy, bizarre thing that you can do or put them in, that you’ve not seen them do before? But the whole idea is that you have to stick to that gag. If you’re making a boy-band, it can’t be a half-assed attempt; you have to actually write a song, you have to make sure that song sounds like a boy-band song, that it’s written like a boy-band song, you have to take all the tropes of a boy-band while writing that song. Like the chorus, or how they sort of stretch a few letters; So, you take all that and try and make something out of it, to build something out of it.

Ravi 38:44
This is really important, I feel, because there’s this concept that I keep hearing in storytelling, which is that every good story is a balance between novelty and familiarity. You’ve got the novelty element by putting these guys in an unfamiliar place, but then in that place, it should be very familiar, which is which is what you’re trying to do.

Dev 39:02
Beautifully said. Yeah, I think what you’ve said completely hits the nail on its head. It’s (exactly) that.

Ravi 39:08
When you do this, you come up with such a wide variety of ideas. Do you then take that call yourself? How do you actually come to think, “Okay, this is our best bet” or best 2, 3 ideas, and then you take it to the client?

Dev 39:24
It depends. Generally, the team sits and decides, like, “Okay, this is good”; I mean, you generally know when you’ve hit upon a good idea, it needs very little convincing within the team. But suppose I have an idea and I need to over sell it to the team, then I know it’s a sh*t (bad) idea. But if, say, that Tanmay or Puneet has an idea and they just say it and everyone laughs, then all of us immediately know that this works. So, we need very little convincing for things like that to happen.

Ravi 39:56
Because you guys, yourselves, have such high standards that if it passes your laugh filter, then it works.

Dev 40:03
Yeah, maybe. I think it’s always universally true. I think it’s also a skill set that we’ve developed over the last 6, 7 years. Especially in copywriting, we know what we can make. Sometimes, what happens is you can think of an extremely funny thought, which is very funny, but it will never translate itself into a funny scene. I think that knowing the difference is also quite important.

Ravi 40:28
The other skill that I see you using is, kind of this familiarity (piece), which I call the use of analogies. So again, in the house parties one, where they have gotten the house and they’ve done the party, and then all the guests have come in; so now these guys have to instruct the guests on how to behave and how not to behave. And to do that, how did you come up with the idea of the airline announcement? That’s a very cool analogy. You follow that trope fully; it’s done exactly how an airline announcement is done.

Dev 41:04
Correct. So, this scene was written by Puneet and Vishal, who are also writers at AIB; they wrote that scene, but I think that was very simple. We know that there is a host who always keeps giving (instructions), that’s an observation. If you’re hosting a house party, there are two kinds of hosts – one host doesn’t give a rat’s a** as to what happens to the house, (you can) destroy the house, whatever, he doesn’t give a sh*t; then there’s the other kind of host, who is super paranoid. I think that guy’s name is ‘Paranoid’, in the sketch. The person is super paranoid. And usually, they always keep giving instructions, “Hey, don’t keep your glass over there. Hey, here’s the coaster. Hey guys, don’t turn the music up too loudly; Hey! don’t dirty that part”, “Please don’t puke here.” So, that’s the characteristics of a host, and the idea is, how do we bring all this together? and what is the idea or trope that we can use to bring this to life? And I think, naturally, an airline announcement, as a trope, has a lot of meat in itself to communicate all these things. So, you just marry those two thoughts and the scene is born.

Ravi 42:21
Yeah, I think analogies really work, even at the workplace. Especially if you’re trying to explain something technical, to use a powerful analogy makes the job much easier.
I want to now switch gears to talk about your thinking, reflection, and writing process. So generally, in the whole process – we’ll get into the steps – is there any part of the process that you find really difficult, or challenging?

Dev 42:50
It depends. For me, I think the difficult part is the writing; I’m weak with dialogues. I’m better with ideas, thoughts, making the scene interesting. But dialogue writing is a weak point for me, and that’s also because I’m from Bangalore and most dialogues are written in Hindi; I can speak Hindi but it’s not my first language, not even my second language; My second language is Kannada, first is English. It’s completely something that I’ve picked up over the last eight years, but I need a lot of help when I have to write dialogues. For me, that is the tougher part in the whole process.

Ravi 43:33
Do you have any way to try and make it better? Or do you usually say, “Okay, I’ve given the idea” and then somebody else can make it better?

Dev 43:41
No, it’s not like that. It’s not like I only work on the ideas, everyone works on everything; but I think the only way to make it work is to sit and work, and to have a team that complements everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, and to just keep learning. Puneet, Vishal, Deep, Nupur, Tanmay, Ashish, Khamba, Rohan, these are masters in comedy writing. Dialogues and all that, so I just sit with them as much as possible, trying to perfect (my) work and learn, imbibe, and understand things. There’s a basic problem there, which is language, which I will never be able to bridge. Also, most of the time, my thoughts are in English and then I need to translate that, or if I’m getting a Hindi thought, trying to figure that out in English (is difficult), I think that’s what I lack. But I’m getting better, I feel, with every passing day. Hopefully I’ll get better and better.

Ravi 44:48
I’m sure. On the content consumption part, I remember you talking about how you consume a lot of different types of content. Do you have a broad approach as to what kind of stuff you consume? How do you maintain a diversified (range of content to consume)?

Dev 45:04
YouTube is an amazing tool for that. I just go down YouTube rabbit holes, and I noticed a lot of times people say you’re wasting time, but for me, that is work time. Sometimes, even I feel guilty, I’m like, “Why am I going from one (video to another)?” But then I’m like, “No, maybe I’m going to watch a video on investing, or about something that could maybe help me somewhere in life. Or, it might provide for some observations”, and I’m writing something about those things. So, I think continuously watching YouTube videos is one way to consume really diversified content.

Ravi 45:49
So, about that – just to sort of come in there, Dev – the YouTube algorithm is so strict. How do you beat that? Because it just shows you the same kind of videos, again and again.

Dev 45:58
So what I do is, I’ve stopped Google searching things; I only use YouTube for my search. For example, if I want to know what happened in Roman history, earlier, I’d go to Google and ask the question, now I’ll go to YouTube; I’ll watched four videos, and then I’ll get more context. I think that has kind of helped me, but I’ve still not fully recovered from the algorithm. I know that is an issue because everything gets programmed to what you like. I think this has helped, where I use YouTube as my primary search tool, so everything I’m searching on a daily basis is on YouTube and this confuses the algorithm.

Ravi 46:51
That’s good actually, because normally what I tend to do is, I land up on YouTube and say, “Okay, what are you serving me today?” It’s more of the same thing (all the time). So, the searching is a good idea.

Dev 47:01
Yeah. Also, I think the thing is that, with so much competition…four or five years ago, 100% of your video digital spends went to YouTube. But, now suddenly there are OTT platforms which are biting into that chunk, right? There’s Hotstar, all your other platforms are starting to bite into that chunk. Obviously then, the engineers there want to retain you; they want to hold you, so they’re very scared to experiment. “What if I show Ravi a video of baseball? In case he might watch baseball and start liking the sport”, but they’re like “No, Ravi will just quit; he will go somewhere else. So, I have to keep showing him what he likes to keep magnetically pulling him into this ecosystem.”
Showing you what you like, and what your interests are, is in its best interest to make sure you don’t waver, because it just takes two three videos which you’re not interested in for you to move on and get bored. (It could be) such a great discovery, but they can’t risk that. In 2015, 16, they could risk that so their recommended videos would also be very different, (they were) very nice. But now they can’t do that, because they’re losing to Facebook, they’re losing to Instagram, TikTok and all these guys, and OTT platforms, advertising spends. So, they have to show high amounts of retainership.

Ravi 48:26
That’s a tough one.
And so, apart from YouTube, (do you use) anything else for the consumption (of) content?

Dev 48:31
Oh, I mean, I had Twitter; Twitter is crazy for me. Twitter is like basically my textbook, to be honest in life. And what I stopped doing, consciously, a year ago, I stopped reading politics. I stopped interacting (with it) —this is not to say I’m not political or I don’t give a sh*t  about what’s happening in the country, or what’s happening in my state, or district—I’ll consume the news on my news sites. Also, with Twitter, there is this algorithm tweak: where earlier, if you followed someone, only those tweets would reflect on your timeline. But now, the people you follow, if they like other people’s tweets, then that reflects on your timeline and also gets segregated as your area of interest. So, if it’s about crypto Twitter, you’ll get a lot of crypto Twitter feeds – which is very interesting. What I did is, I reprogrammed my whole Twitter. I stopped reading politics, stopped following a lot of comedians. Followed a bunch of investment accounts, crypto accounts, VC accounts, start-up accounts, sports accounts with sports that I like; I tweet also about the same things, because you’re reading those things, ideas get formed into a loop. So I have made my Twitter very accessible, like a knowledge book; as opposed to a place where you go to rant and vent, and read other people’s rants. That has been super helpful to calibrate my Twitter, and has helped me expand my knowledge book over there.
Then I worked closely with a lot of short form apps, I used to like work on Moj and Share Chat, with that group, right from when Moj was conceived to about the first 8-10 months I managed a lot of things there. So those short form video apps, I used to go through – I’ve kind of taken a break because that used to be part of my work – And of course your Netflix, and Hotstar, then Amazon Prime eats up most of my nights. 

Ravi 50:40
So you’re consuming a lot of this good content, and sometimes going down rabbit holes and all that fun. But then now, say you get a brief, and you have to come up with ideas, where do you get your best ideas?

Dev 50:55
In those times, I usually switch off my laptop and think. Obviously, I do a lot of research, if it’s a product, to find out what the products do and everything. And then it’s just thinking up ideas and looking at what someone has done in that space internationally, and in India; What is good, what is bad; so, your yardstick is set. And then you emulate those pieces of content with your work. And take it from there.

Ravi 51:26
Do you have a deliberate process like walking, or going for a cycle ride, or something like that to generate ideas?

Dev 51:35
Not really. The thing is, because I’ve always been in the commercial art (field), where there’s a deadline looming over (your head), I don’t have the pleasure of taking my own sweet time or having these things; being like “only if I walk or cycle, I will get ideas”. I can’t do it because my income depends on these things. So, it’s constantly just skipping from one brief to another in this room, or wherever I am. And thinking, writing, experimenting; writing out something, then going “Ah yeah, this is fine,” deleting; So that is the process. There’s, unfortunately, no nice, romanticized way of doing it for me.

Ravi 52:21
There’s this famous Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, where Hobbes is telling him, “You need to submit some report” he says “I can’t just do it whenever I want, I need to get the right time and the right place, and inspiration will strike.”
“What is the right time and place?” he asks, so Calvin says, “Last minute panic.”
So, yeah, I think we need that push and the deadline to make things work.
One thing I’m really curious about, which I have personally struggled with a little bit, when it comes to anything creative – I’ve not been in the creative space; I mean, unless you call some of this work creative – but, we all have ideas, and when I have to discuss ideas with other people, it’s always been a struggle. Because different people will have different opinions, as it should be. And then to be able to love your idea, to give it birth, and yet be detached enough from it to see it getting massacred…It’s a tough one. How do you build that muscle? How do you manage creativity in a group?

Dev 53:33
One thing I that you need to be very self-critical, because I see a lot of people that are in love with their ideas, they get married to their ideas, and that is doomsday for you. Because a lot of people can’t get over the fact that their idea is sh*t (bad). You need to be at least (a little self-critical); I think we all are trained to be very, super self-critical in the first place. And we are, ourselves, unsure.

Ravi 54:02
How do you get that training to be self-critical? That’s not easy.

Dev 54:06
I think advertising teaches you that, because you have a boss and they’ll be like, “No, this is sh*t (terrible)”, you can’t argue with her, you just have to go back and do it (right). And then you do that, and you go to the client, because someone who’s putting a lot of money into your ideas will be extra critical. So they’ll be like, “No, this is bullsh*t ; this is not happening.” So, you’re basically trained for rejection, again and again. Most of the ideas we think of, won’t happen; there’s a small minority of things that actually happen. A big majority, or most of the things you have ideas for, are going to get rejected. So, I think that rejection (helps to be self-critical), I mean, I don’t take it to heart; I know a lot of people in my life who don’t take it to heart. As far as thinking (creatively in a group goes,) there’s a lot of trust over there. That is the most critical thing, creating a safe space, where you’ll know your idea’s getting killed only because it is a bad idea, not because of an ego or insecurity that is killing your idea, which also happens a lot when you’re thinking in a group, or if you’re in the wrong group, or if you have an insecure boss or teammate. Those are places where you feel very unsafe. And that’s probably why I worked only with (very specific people) in the last few years, we work with each other in our team the most. I hardly collaborate – at least writing wise – I don’t collaborate so much with somebody who is completely new, or anything like that, because there is a lot of trust and faith over here. When I say an idea or when someone tells me an idea, and I tell them it’s sh*t, in as many words, because we also have deadlines, you can’t always be very diplomatic about it. If every time someone gives a bad idea, if you have to sit and explain to them why it’s a bad idea, it becomes a huge waste of time. So, most of the times you’re curt, you’re like, “No, that’s sh*t, it’s f***all, let’s move on.” So, when you’re giving an idea, that’s the exact reaction you get if it’s a bad idea. Now, you can’t take that to heart, and especially in a group where you are fully familiar with (the fact that) it’s coming from only the merit for the idea. For example, if I say an idea and say, Puneet, or Vishal, or Tanmay, whoever, if they are saying, “No, that’s very bad”, I know that they’re not judging my work, they’re not judging my history, or they’re not judging me as a writer, they’re just judging that idea, and there is no time to explain why. If I genuinely believe that it’s a mind-blowing idea, then I’ll try to push (for it). Then you’ll be like, “Hey, no, but what if we do it like this? What if we do it like that?” and then you debate on an idea which you truly believe in. But you have to, at the end of it – concede, if four or five other people are saying it’s bad. You have to be like, “No, this is not working”, and you move on. I think being in a very safe space is very important. In your early days, you keep moving teams, you’re trying to find any team to make it work, and trying to be in a good team. But I think at least I have been fortunate enough to be at a stage where I don’t have to go out and work with new people. Now that is also limiting, but for me, that is also important because there is a lot of familiarity, trust, and security with the people that we work with, so that is really helpful.

Ravi 57:31
I think it’s rare to get that group, right, Dev? Because the vast majority of groups are dysfunctional, in their own way. It’s almost like the Beatles, the right group comes across once in a generation, and they should make the most of that collaboration.

Dev 57:50
Yeah, it becomes a comfort. I think the most important thing is integrity. You need your idea to be judged, everything else is not important at that point in time. But unfortunately, in a lot of places, it’s not just that.

Ravi 58:08
Yeah, and I think a part of what goes with integrity is very high talent and skill; you need to be at that level of talent and skill to be able to give judgement which is very honest but of good quality.

Dev 58:21
Correct. And also, it’s largely on you; on how you take it. You can’t be very sensitive about things. There are days where, say for four days in a row, you come up with ideas and it’s all sh*t  and everyone tells you it’s sh*t. Now, those are days where, maybe, experience will help you. You have to believe that you can come up with bad ideas, but you also have to believe that you will come up with good ideas. So, I think that is most important. 

Ravi 58:54
That’s great stuff. What are some books, podcasts, or any courses that you have done, that have really inspired you, or that have been like an inspiration?

Dev 59:06
Oh, I haven’t done any courses. I don’t mean to say courses are sh*t , or education is bad, or whatever; I have always liked the process of learning, unlearning, and doing, all at the same time. I don’t think I have the focus to learn a course and then go and apply it. But, in terms of books, podcasts, man! I just like keep listening and reading a lot. So last year, I read a lot of books on business, money, wealth and everything.

Ravi 59:49
That’s amazing! It’s not a topic that you’d have read too often before? Or have you always been reading about (these topics?)

Dev 59:56
Well, I’m curious about many things. Last year, specifically because I was running a business, and I was like looking at how I’m now 35, I’m like, “What do I do with my life?” (I was thinking about) money, everything (related to that), (I read a lot about it). So, I went down that rabbit hole. There was a book – the Alibaba story, that was really good for me to understand how you go from zero to 3 billion with just Jack Ma’s madness, and leadership. It’s a great book on leadership.
Then, what’s that book on Nike?

Ravi 1:00:44
Shoe Dog?

Dev 1:00:45
Yeah, Shoe Dog! Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, that’s also a great book on excellence. It’s where art meets business; art, madness, fashion meets business. I think that was a superb intersection that was very, very interesting. I’ve read basically all of Barack Obama’s books, and his wife’s book, Michelle’s book, Becoming. these were some of the fantastic books that I read last year. Promised Land is also a mind-blowing book. In order to understand how basically, to become president, you have to win over like at least half a country. And that is not easy! Promised Land has fascinating insight into how someone can go about doing that, and how to, at critical situations, weigh in the pros and cons, I think those are fantastic things. Becoming, which is his wife’s book, which is set in the time zone was fascinating, because you get the man’s opinion on what’s happening, and then you see what’s happening on the other side. Becoming actually helped me understand a lot about sexism, and inherent things that we take for granted, as men. That was really fascinating for me. So, those were from last year, that I can immediately remember. Even Bob Iger’s book, Ride of a Lifetime. That was also a great book on how to build a media company. Jack Ma’s story has like, an entrepreneur and 20 people, let’s go crazy! But then Bob Iger, his book is also important because it’s a white-collar job, where you go up, go to the top and then (looks at) how you expand from there? So that was also a fascinating read. I can’t wait to read Dave Grohl’s memoir. He’s the lead singer of Foo Fighters, the band; he used to be the drummer of Nirvana; his book just came out. I’ve just gifted it to a friend of mine, Kumar Varun, who stays close by. I just gift books to people who stay close by so I can go pick it up and read it for free later. So, Foo Fighters, I think I’m really looking forward to that book. There’s a bunch of these things.
Podcast wise, at ATS we have a podcast division that used to put out a lot of podcasts on, say, Mission ISRO, which Gaurav Vaz used to head. So that got me hooked on podcasts. Catch and Kill is a great podcast, then there’s a lot of other ones. What’s that Elizabeth Holmes podcast series?

Ravi 1:04:00

Dev 1:04:01
Theranos, yeah. That was also crazy. What is that other one I used to listen to? Basically, I keep switching. I listen to a few episodes of Revisionist History. Oh, that was just something else. Those episodes, you can just pick one up randomly, and just start listening and it adds so much value. Revisionist History is so good. And that man is crazy! Malcolm Gladwell, I love his book, man. The Outliers, what a book! It’s so mind-blowing. That’s something that I read last year that completely blew my mind. So yeah, so these were the things that I’ve been reading for the past year.

Ravi 1:04:43
That’s an eclectic list, Dev. Very cool! There’re some great suggestions there. It has been incredible to have you here and have you shed some light on the underlying processes; your way of thinking; how you actually go about writing your stories, and I’m looking forward to more such cool, surprising, amazing stories coming out from the house of SuperTeamDAO. 

Dev 1:05:07
That’s a completely different career pivot, which I’m doing now. It’s basically Web 3.0 and crypto, are some things that I’ve been really fascinated by over the last few months, and I was like, “Okay, let’s just chuck it and do this full time.” So, that’s something that I’m doing full time. But otherwise, I’ve worked on a few ads, I mean, now, that side of work has completely wound down, because I’m like, “Okay, it was good fun, very good; let me just concentrate and see what we can do with crypto in India.” Like I said, I produce a lot of stuff these days where I’m not creatively involved, initially, I sit in for a few rounds of ideation, put teams together and make them do things.

Ravi 1:05:59
I’m sure this will also be a great story. Where can people get to know more about you? 

Dev 1:06:04
Follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, please ‘like’ and ‘RT’, I love validation. Those are places where I keep hounding people with what I’m doing professionally.

Ravi 1:06:17
Wonderful, I’ll share the links in the show notes.

Dev 1:06:19

Ravi 1:06:21
Wonderful. Thank you so much, Dev, for this.

Dev 1:06:22
Superb! Thanks, thanks so much, Ravi. (It’s been my) pleasure being here. Good luck.

And that was Devaiah Bopanna, one of the funniest writers to regale us with his work.

A few things which stood out for me in the conversation

  • Why it is actually very difficult to be truly creative in advertising given the constraints… and 
  • How sometimes when there are no constraints, it’s not easy to open the creativity tap and let it flow, and finally
  • When ideating, why it is important to be brutally honest when giving feedback and thick skinned when receiving it

If you find this content valuable, please rate and review this podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to them. It’ll help others like you discover these insights!

This podcast was hosted by me, Ravishankar Iyer. Audio editing by Kartik Rajan. Transcript editing by Amisha Jha and all-round support by Sanket Aalegaonkar.

Until next time, may the force of good stories be with you

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