There’s an apocryphal anecdote about Alyque Padamsee. An alyquedote, if you will. He was once in a car with a junior executive, going for an important meeting. He was rifling through some notes he had prepared. Something prompts the young executive to suddenly say, ‘My God!’. Alyque casually looks up from his notes and says, ‘Yes?’ 

A Linked-In management guru may well extract some valuable lessons from this story. a) Prepare well for your meetings b) Don’t give a damn about corporate hierarchy c) A sense of humour is a great asset for leaders to have d) Be your own God. 

Let me Hijack your Mind: Restart your Life with Freedom tells us that Alyque embraced all of these, especially the last one. Ronnie Screwala in a little tribute says how he became a note-taker for life after watching Alyque at work. Elsewhere, we learn that AP (as he was often called) could get along like a building on fire with anyone from an office boy to a Prime Minister. We are also taught that no message is so serious that it can’t be told with a chuckle (remember the coconut smashing and tomato crushing ads for road safety and family planning). 


And, finally, for good measure, AP reminds us of his self-appointed divinity by issuing his own set of commandments. Sample a couple - ‘Thou shalt always listen to the voice of thy conscience’ and ‘Thou shalt build bridges, not barriers’. Nobody will grudge Alyque the right to pontificate. After all he was considered the God of two realms - advertising and theatre. 

The earlier Linked-In reference was intentional. Peppered with bullet points, sub-heads, summaries, recaps, and italicised ‘alyqueisms’, this book reads like a series of posts from the social networking web site that people love to hate. If only Alyque (and Vandana Saxena Poria, his co-author) wrote this book in Tinder (or at least Facebook) mode, it would have been far more exciting to read. So, it ends up falling between a bunch of stools. It’s not an autobiography, a collection of essays, a diary, or a self-help book. I guess shops will finally put it in the management section, after a bit of head-scratching. 

During my stint at Lintas, I heard many imitations of AP, with his famous nasal twang, fulminating against his pet bugbears - hypocrisy, misogyny, patriarchy, discrimination, dishonesty, and a bunch of isms. This book has all the words, but says it like a management consultant would, not a rabble rouser. And anyone who met Alyque knows that he could rouse any rabble. 

Let me Hijack your Mind includes some of Alyque’s craziest ideas. Renewable five-year marriage licences, taxpayers’ unions, molester-baiting decoy cops, chief stimulation officers, pleasure-enhancing condoms, fairness creams for men, the freedom to choose one’s own religion... the list goes on. Some of the ideas don’t sound so revolutionary today. Which makes you think this book would have been more impactful a decade ago. 

There are many mentions of Alyque’s interactions with people in power, and how he never hesitated to use his theatrical personality to pitch wild ideas at them. Be it convincing a Grand Mufti to issue a fatwa against terrorists, an FMCG company to pander to male vanity, a marketing manager to put a girl in a bikini under a waterfall, or a Prime Minister to sanction research into performance enhancing condoms. 

Alyque quotes Shakespeare frequently, almost as often as he quotes himself. The text is littered with coinages - some clever, some corny. But like all successful ad men (and politicians), he knows how words work. Bonus babies, unspoken dialogues, protocol prisons, false Gods, Chief Stimulation Officers... the book is replete with ideas that find shape in his phrases.  

The book itself was put together by Vandana from recordings, notes, interviews and meetings over several years. Little pieces from Raell Padamsee, Ronnie Screwala, Tushar Gandhi, Kabir Bedi, Boman Irani, Gurcharan Das and a few others are juicy morsels. The bit that made me laugh aloud, and will probably be the one I will recall many years from now, came from Cyrus Broacha. ‘.. you can tell from his writings, he was very tall. Very tall.’ 

(The reviewer, D Ramakrishna, better known as Ramki, is the owner and creative boss of Cartwheel Creative Consultancy)  

BOOK REVIEW: Let Me Hijack Your Mind: Restart Your Life With Freedom 

Publisher: Viking 

 Price: Rs 399 

Pages: 258 

Check out the book on Amazon