“Interviewing Ruskin Bond was the greatest thing for The English Nut”: Sumanto Chattopadhyay

It’s a story from that time when The English Nut had their fanboy moment at the Savoy in Mussoorie with a certain Bond.

There is Bond and there is Bond. This story is about the latter for whom the pen has always proven more powerful than any exploding car or any tailored suit. This is the story of Ruskin Bond, one of India’s most beloved English writers, and his time with an endearing nut.

Sumanto Chattopadhyay, during the day and some nights, leads the role of Chief Creative Officer and President of 82.5 Communications, a creative agency from the house of Ogilvy. When he takes off his creative cape, he transforms into “The English Nut”, India’s most popular online destination for all things English, especially the Queen’s English. American English is not welcome here.

The English Nut, in a nutshell, is your destination of choice to learn about the English language in all its aspects. It reached a crescendo last year when MP Shashi Tharoor, the gift of English for most Indians, appeared on his YouTube channel. This very interview proved to be the catalyst for Chattopadhyay’s tryst with one of his childhood literary heroes.

Chattopadhyay reveals that it was his friend and former colleague Jitendra Patel, co-founder of Artthat Studio, who was his human connection to Ruskin Bond.

Patel was working on the logo for what is a Ruskin Bond collection (it sells a lot of memorabilia) which was the brainchild of Siddarth Bond, the writer’s grandson who, along with Patel, had seen the Shashi Tharoor interview .

Patel called Chattopadhyay last year (2021) and asked if he would like to do the same with Mr Bond? “Interviewing Ruskin Bond would be the greatest thing for the English Nut…”

Chattopadhyay’s first thought was to ‘do a Zoom call because Covid was in full swing’ but Siddharth told him that wouldn’t have the same impact as doing it face to face and asked him to come to Mussoorie . “Great, give me a date,” was Chattopadhyay’s instant response.

You have to realize The English Nut is not an easy swinging person, but when he first spoke to Ruskin Bond on the phone, “I had a fanboy moment when I heard his voice familiar and I’m not that kind of person. Usually I don’t get carried away, but it was exciting.

This was a unique opportunity for Chattopadhyay and he didn’t want to peddle the same questions that Ruskin Bond had been asked in other TV interviews and panels. “I have to ask different questions and I can bring out the real me in that person and get them to open up,” he remarks.

The interview took place at the famous luxury hotel The Savoy where “Ruskin Bond staged some of his stories”.

Chattopadhyay was worried about how much time Mr Bond could give him and if he would answer all the questions… “I was nervous, he made me feel comfortable from the start, he answered all my questions. “

English Nut’s nervousness is evident in the way he sits, his stiff 90-degree spine that would make any math teacher shed tears of pride. “I was in my chair but figuratively I was on my toes because I wanted to make sure I was right,” he reveals.

There’s this adage that you should never meet your heroes because if you do and they don’t turn out the way you imagined, you’ll suffer a lot. “My biggest concern in the time leading up to the interview was that I shouldn’t screw it up and I was too focused on making mistakes,” Chattopadhyay admits and says he had no other thoughts.

From his YouTube channel where you can and can learn everything there is to learn about the English language, to interviews with Shashi Tharoor and Ruskin Bond, it’s been quite a journey for The English Nut.

“There was an American comedian who asked Tharoor about American slang terms and he couldn’t answer it…I put out a little video saying for English Nut, Shashi Tharoor is the perfect guest and of course I wouldn’t ask him about American slang,” he told us, which was the starting point for Tharoor’s interview.

Chattopadhyay’s co-worker saw this video and told him she wanted to work with him and they stalked Tharoor’s manager to make it happen. When he flew to Delhi for the interview, he was nervous because Tharoor, given his job as an MP, could be called on at any time and The English Nut, ladies and gentlemen, is a project started. Fortunately, everything went well.

“My learning is that if you are well prepared as an interviewer the interview goes well and the interviewee warms up to it as well and if you have a set of questions and it doesn’t fit the essence of the person, it becomes superficial.

I had to rethink my career when The English Nut said those words.

Chattopadhyay’s work in publicity. It’s an old hat but not worn, it’s in touch with the times but not too much to get distracted from the basic work. This makes him the perfect candidate to understand the state of copywriting in the advertising world in India.

Someone had once told me about some sort of graduation school before joining their agency; he spent a few months in a house where all he and a few other young carpenters did was read and watch movies and get their creative juices flowing. It doesn’t happen anymore.

“What happened today is that advertising margins have become so thin that no one has the money to invest like that,” admits Chattopadhyay.

The business, he tells us, has “split itself into so many mediums and as a result the brand budget is spread across so many different things, so somewhere the investment in those kinds of things is less. “.

He goes on to say that it’s important for any creative or advertising person, regardless of department, to understand what insight is, what’s going to appeal to a consumer, and what’s going to thrill them and make that my mark pleases him. .

“I have noticed that people who have been to MICA have a deep understanding of all of this and I have met several writers who have been there and I find their approach to be perfect.”

Readers, it’s simple. There are creatives and creatives. Be the latter.