Scripting A Multifaceted Role For Herself

Updated: Dec 22 2002, 05:30am hrs
Coming from the well-heeled background as she does, one hardly expects Geetanjali Kirloskar (wife of Vikram Kirloskar of the Kirloskar group of industries) to be the complete hardnosed professional and workaholic that shes turned out to be. But what is certainly different (and refreshingly so) about her passion to be recognised as someone in her own right is not about being a feminist or breaking set family rules or trying to delink from the lineage the Kirloskars are known for in India.

For Ms Kirloskar, her goals were clear right from start and born in a family built on a solid work culture and a strong educational backing (her father comes from the royal family in Sangli, while her mother hails from a Kashmiri political family closely related to the Nehru clan), her success and ambitions stem from deep-rooted family driven values.

I always enjoyed meeting people and communicating, so I knew right from the beginning that advertising was where I wanted to be. And as a family my parents in spite of their lineage believed in working hard and my marriage into one of the countrys oldest industrial families also beautifully paved the way for my dreams, shares Mr Kirloskar.

Interestingly, having gone a full circle of starting as a trainee executive, to playing an entrepreneurial role during her years with Pratibha Advertising (the former industrial advertising company of the Kirloskars) to being chosen to head Quadrant Advertising as president, Ms Kirloskar is all set to once again take the lead as the president at Lintertainment, which will exclusively work on promotions and campaigns for Indian films. Besides her duties in the corporate world, she is also managing the budding artistic career of her 13-year-old daughter, Mansi, who has emerged as one of the countrys youngest artists and is also well on her way into pursuing her long time passionfilms!.

As a person, though I have ambition I have never believed in staying aloof from the system. I am happy being a woman and as an intelligent worker I believe one has to leverage every contact one has. And more specifically for me, anything that I do I make sure it adds value to the family I belong too. But one needs to remember that the right contacts do not bring you business, but get you the right kind of access, she says.

Her working career began 14 years ago when she actively became a part of Pratibha Advertising. Preferring to learn the ropes right from scratch, Ms Kirloskar first exposure to advertising began at the trainee level and saw her literally work up the ranks just as any other employee. But work for me meant going all the way, so much so that even during my holiday in London I did a full-fledged internship with one of the big agencies there mainly focussing on brand management, she says. This experience eventually translated into Pratibha moving from being industrial advertising to taking on more consumer oriented clientsnamely the youth apparel brand Weekender. By 1998 she was heading the southern region and national brand planning for the agency.

In what she describes as the biggest career break she got, Pratibha Advertising morphed into Quadrant when the globally well known Inter Public Group approached the Kirloskars for a joint venture in the advertising arena. We rendered Pratibha non-operational, moved key clients and key people and Quadrant was born. Having been chosen to head Quadrant as president by the IPG group (which incidentally went through a rigorous scanning process before settling on her to head the Indian venture), Ms Kirloskar grew the company between 1998 to December 2001 from Rs 17 crore to Rs 58 crore having worked on leading clients including Sansui, Kenstar, etc.

With 14 long years of hard work behind me, I suddenly found my energy had plateaued and there was a deep sense of not having found time for myself. The break from advertising came when I opted to move out of Quadrant to just take some time for myself, she adds. After a good fun filled holiday to Italy, Ms Kirloskar is rearing to go yet again, armed this time with a first. I had been thinking of a unique concept to start working on for a while and I had put together a business model which would primarily function within the entertainment world. But needed an expert to hone it. I was convinced this was the next big opportunity for me, she says.

Preferring to make the right moves, backed by just the right partner, Ms Kirloskar took her idea to Lintas which then reworked on it to create and float Lintertainment.

Lintas Rs 1,000 crore media buying armInitiative Mediais setting the ball rolling. Incorporated as a division of Initiative Media, Lintertainment will exclusively focus on the entertainment business particularly on building marketing and promotion strategies for commercial films (starting with Mumbai and later also looking at working for South Indian films). Ms Kirloskar will head the division as president, dividing her time between Mumbai where operations are based and Bangalore where she lives with her family.

But what is the other side of her Travelling, collecting art (a passion she shares strongly with her husband), acting in films, even scripting for one and keeping fit to make sure she has loads of energy to cope with her packed schedule.

Sundays are strictly reserved for the family when they get together to enjoy a weekend out or spend sometime with close friends, preferring quite sitting at home rather than partying.

Even when we relax as a family we believe in learning, which is why travelling to new places each time and exploring the place well is very important to us. We are not the kind of people who just want to have a quiet time, she says.

The family takes one big holiday every year and are currently doing Europe. We went to Italy recently and we have done France and Spain. We plan to do Austria and Germany next year and perhaps South America and South Africa the year after. The historical and artistic value in each of the places we went to was very important for Vikram and me, she adds. In India, adventure travel, nature trips and sightseeing outings are yet another favourite with the family.

Besides travelling Ms Kirloskar particularly enjoys writing and reading (mainly autobiographies and modern writers) books with a strong element of reality. As for music I enjoy old Hindi classics and ghazals. Writing is also something that I want to do more often and you will soon see my columns in well-known magazines, she tells you.

And last but not the least. The actress in her is all set to emerge very soon. Acting is something that I have always wanted to do and now I am actually getting to realising that dream. But I am clear that for me acting is a hobby and not a career and I want to do character roles with a lot of emotional value and not glamour value, she says. What started with a role in Girish Karnads Cheluvi to set to graduate in Bollywood as well as Tamil films.

She is working in a Bollywood thriller set for release next year followed by a Tamil film. In both the Hindi and the Tamil film I play roles hich have a lot of acting potential which is what I liked. I am also keen on Marathi films, she says.