As you make your way through Rajagopalan Balakrishnan aka R Balki’s Hope Productions office in suburban Khar, Mumbai, you realise that the walls of the corridor leading up to his cabin are lined with photographs that are representative of the two hats he has successfully donned in life—there are pictures of him with teammates at MullenLowe Lintas Group, and those with actors on film sets along
with movie stills. However, in August, after almost 22 years, Balki, 52, quit the advertising firm, of which he was group chairman, to focus on filmmaking. Has life changed after Lowe, we ask, a place he fondly refers to as his “playground” and one that he credits as the reason for his “existence, growth and confidence”? “Nothing. It’s the same chaos, just with a different set of people. The only person I
miss is my secretary at Lowe,” he says, with a laugh. Though he mostly worked out of his office at Hope Productions, it was his secretary at Lowe who organised everything for him. On a serious note, he adds that there are more phone calls now. “Filmmaking requires you to talk to so many more people because the team is much bigger. Meetings, phone calls, meeting actors in the middle of the night and then scripting,” he says. He is, however, quick to point out, “I will always be an advertising person first, for sure, and it will always be what I love the most because you then think from an idea point of view.”
His room is minimally decked up: there is a quirkily designed Nelson Mandela figurine, and apart from pictures from his own movies, are two giant posters of Scarface and American TV show Breaking Bad.