Of aam barfi, bakarwadi and client relationships

The Pune of 1986 was a haven for me in many ways…different kinds of clients, some very satisfying work, and the wonderful eating places tucked away in different corners of the city.

Those were the days one ensured that one was at home, when the opening notes of the music of ‘Mahabharat’ started on Sunday morning.

I enjoyed Pune also because it gave me the opportunity to travel to Mumbai once a week for a client meeting.

And what a marquee client it was….one of India’s most reputed newspaper publishing groups!

The person I would interact with was a scion of the family that owned the publishing group.

I was a wee bit intimated at the beginning of my interaction with him, but after producing some good work for them, we became ‘friends’. Over a period of time, I got to know many of his likes and dislikes…both professional and personal. In fact, there was even an occasion, where I had to stay over in Mumbai, and he welcomed me home with open arms.

We used to chat about great work that was happening; why some campaigns work while others don’t; we would discuss the politics of the day…at the national stage, the state stage as indeed, at his workplace.

Over a drink or two, I also discovered what food/ snack he liked or disliked.

All these used to be stored in my mental hard disk, because those were the years that I rarely forgot anything☺.

One weekly meeting, however, turned out to be a disaster. The client had given an oral brief, and creatives had been produced based on that brief. 

When I presented the creatives to him, he just lost it! ‘This is rubbish. My brief was something else. Why are you wasting my time? I will have to look for another firm at this rate.’

I stayed silent and requested him to give me three more days to come back and represent. He very reluctantly agreed.

On the way back to Pune, I was thinking over his words, and generally looking back at the times we had spent together. I was a bit miffed as well, because the work I had presented to him was as per his oral brief. What was also a little unnerving was the fact that apart from his rant, there was no new brief.

Anyways, it was back to the drawing board. I conjured up a brief during the return journey home, wrote it down and shared it with the creative team the next morning. I also told them about the short lead time, and that I needed a new campaign in less than 2 days.

They delivered, and after taking the layouts from them, I headed home. 

I don’t know what it was that made me stop at a mithai shop called Chitale Bandhu, which was on my way home.

For Punekars, and for many others from other cities, including Mumbai, this was THE place for Aam barfi and Bakarwadi. I bought a kilo of each and went home. Packed them into my overnighter for the travel to Mumbai for the revised creative presentation.

On reaching his office, I first handed over the two boxes with the mithai. He asked what they were. I said that the boxes contained Aam barfi and Bakarwadi. 

His face lit up. ‘How did you know that I love these’, he asked?

I did not have the heart to tell him that he had raved about both these snacks when I had stayed with him that one time☺.

On to the new creatives. 

As you may guess, they were great, but I had no doubt about getting them approved. 

Which they were. Instantly. In fact, the previous campaign which had got him so riled up was re-presented, and also approved!

The last thing I did that day after the presentation was show him a template for a written brief. He nodded and said that he would always follow the format. He stayed true to his word.

Had I done anything ‘unethical’? I don’t think so. 

All I had done was try and understand him better and built up a relationship which has endured to this day.

While the Aam barfi and Bakarwadi played a role, I believe that the deeper relationship I shared with him also helped immeasurably.


  1. Any client firm partnership has to be a relationship based on trust in order to survive and thrive
  2. Written briefs are a must. Insist on them if you have to
  3. The Aam Barfi and Bakarwadi at Chitale Bandhu are still to die for

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Atul Takle
German interpreter. Advertising executive. Client. PR partner.

Lintas. Indian Express. RPG. TCS. Accenture. Future Group. SKS Microfinance. Adfactors PR.

International guest lecturer. Avid Traveler.

Pet friendly. Music friendly. Movie friendly. Book friendly.

Generally friendly.

Covid times cook. All times a foodie.

Mad about soccer. Mad about F1 racing. Mad about cricket.

Mad with Trump.

Sometimes writer.

2 Comments on "Of aam barfi, bakarwadi and client relationships"

  1. Excellent anecdote with learning as ever. I also liked the simplicity of the naration.

  2. Unmesh Deshpande | December 30, 2020 at 5:51 PM | Reply

    Excellent read. Lot of ground experiences penned down in shirsat possible text.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.