Knowing our marbles….

Posted: August 1, 2010 in Media
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Yesterday as I watched the news about Sohrabuddin’s alleged encounter one name kept popping up – that of a famous marble manufacturer who had allegedly paid Rs 10 crore to eliminate Sohrabuddin.

My mind went back to my short stint with Business Standard sometime in 1999-2000 I worked with the marketing features team under Jaideep Dhagat. He was one of the most charming marketing managers I have worked with. I use the word ‘charming’ deliberately because when he started to convince a company official on the benefits of an advertorial feature in the BS, the official stayed convinced!

It was fascinating to watch Jaideep function, because he toyed, flattered and wove his spell around the client. Then before the guy sitting opposite knew it, Jaideep would have a signed cheque in his hand or at least a written assurance for an advertorial. There were times when people would come running after us asking us to return the cheque! It was seduction par excellence! Last heard Jaideep was in Financial Express. Wherever he is, I am sure he’s doing what he knows best.

During one of those sessions I remember we went to Jaipur for something called ‘Stone Mart’ which was an exhibition of marble manufacturers. Rajasthan is the home of marbles and as we did the usual rounds of the stalls, we spoke to owners, some of whom were nothing short of petty criminals who had taken over marble mines by evicting the rightful owners or ‘ran’ it for them through coercion and threats. In the process they kept a large amount of the profits. And believe you me, the profits were large – mindboggling would be a better word.

I especially remember this one guy who told us he did not want his interview recorded. We had found out he was a ‘bad character” but since we wanted an advertisement we were willing to speak to him. “Take notes if you want, but no tape recorders,” he warned. I had a Dictaphone which fit snugly into my shirt pocket and there was no way anyone could have known if I had it on, and recording. But this guy knew, and during the course of the interview he turned to me and said menacingly, “I am being nice to you, so please be nice to me. Shut off the tape, I won’t tell you again.”

There was, however, one name that was missing from Stone Mart and strangely it was supposed to be the biggest name in marbles in the world. We (the BS team) visited the office of the manufacturer. It was a nondescript building and not the kind you would expect from someone who controlled the marble industry from his mines at Kishengarh.

“We don’t need to publicise ourselves,” was the reply we got from the owner’s right-hand man when we asked why they weren’t at Stone Mart. He wasn’t showing off, just being matter of fact. We learned a lot about marbles that day and also realised that we didn’t know our marbles when dealing with the gentleman. We were persuading him to part with funds for advertorial space worth one page in colour and he very quietly asked the costs for a two-page colour. His only condition was that on the pages that he was paying for, there would be nothing else but his company. We agreed.

I remember it was my last job with Business Standard because I was joining HT in Chandigarh in a few weeks. When the team was returning to New Delhi by the Shatbadi, we were excitedly calculating the costs for a four-page pull-out in glossy colour.

A few months later I received a package from Rajiv Sharma, who now heads BS marketing. It contained an eight-page colour supplement on Stone Mart with a separate four pages of glossy colour, with an interview I had done with the man who owned the marble manufacturing company. Since it was an interview conducted through email, no one ever met the owner. He was the same Patni, who owned R.K. Marbles, the biggest marble company in the world, who is now in the news for all the wrong reasons.

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Comments
  1. nadi says:

    oh…

    do you have a copy of that interview?

    can we see it?

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