Says YOGESH LAKHANI
By Jyothi Venkatesh
The ever smiling and energetic Chairman and Managing Director of Bright Advertising Agency- Yogesh Lakhani is bright forever. Though the city of Mumbai, like every other place in India and the world is afflicted by the deadly novel coronavirus, Yogeshbhai makes it a point to attend his office every day all the way from Borivali where he stays till Andheri, braving the traffic.
At the outset, he accepts our best wishes for his birthday as his birthday falls today on September 24 but tells us that for obvious reasons he has curtained the magnitude of his birthday celebrations this year, though in general every year, he holds his birthday parties lavishly in the presence of stars. Though he divulges his real age to me off record, he says that he would only like to be told that he is ever bright, whatever be his age, because he feels that he is always very young at heart.
When asked about his journey from rags to riches, Yogshbhai states, “Hailing from a lower middle-class Saurashtrian family of Mumbai, I confronted many setbacks that resulted in me becoming a very strong person. All the responsibilities of looking after the family fell on my tender shoulders. I had to work day and night to earn their livelihood but this situation did not take away my dream of being an achiever.
It was with persistent hard-work and tenacious nature, that Yogeshbhai managed to lay the foundation of Bright Outdoor Media in the year 1980 and went on to become one of the leaders in the outdoor advertising field. “From a single room office to a well-renowned establishment, I am lucky God blessed me to make an exponential growth that is astonishing as well as appreciable. After an adventurous journey of more than three and a half decades, I am glad my company Bright Advertising stands like an impeccable tower in the industry”.
The biggest strength of his company is that the name by itself is considered as the synonym to “Advertising”. “With a pan Mumbai presence, I can proudly say with humility that no one cover this dream city like we do. Bright boasts of more than 1400 hoardings across the city. We offer outdoor media services all over the country. The company also has a list of more than 600 reputed clients from diverse sectors such as entertainment, telecom, retail, finance, tour and travel etc”.
As the market leader and trend setter among outdoor hoarding agencies, Yogeshbhai says that he has done the outdoor publicity of all the super- hit films of Bombay. “All the celebrities believe that I am their lucky charm as I am the fortunate one who has done the outdoor publicity of the debut film of all well known B-Town celebs like Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, Akshay Kumar, Deepika Padukone etc”.
Though today he has created a huge name in the industry and become a favorite among the celebs, it is interesting to note how he made a dent in the industry forty years ago. “ I entered the glamorous Bollywood Industry with the outdoor advertisement of Venus Films’ movie “Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya” in the year 1990. Since then, my company has become the one stop destination for almost every movie that releases on the big screen. For the past two and a half decades, I am also working with distinguished award functions such as Femina, IIFA, Filmfare etc”.
Yogeshbhai has managed to share a very good bond with the big banners like Yashraj Films, Dharma productions, UTV, Eros, Vishesh Films etc. The secret of his success is simple. “I also sponsor awards. I am self-made; I have had my own office since 1980. I also train in the fresh slot, many college students want to get trained by me. I am successful; I’d say that the entire credit ought to go to my parents. I work 15 hours a day. Ask any star who he or she approaches for outdoor publicity and the maximum number will take my name”.
When asked who he feels is his competition, Yogeshbhai just smiles. “There are many but all are money-minded and work only on a commercial basis which is not the case with me. I try my best to support the small or medium budget films. Sometimes when the film does not score well at the box office I cut down my rate for them. Everyone nowadays is egoistic”.
Yogeshbhai confesses that he had actually started his career from zero..”I do not forget at all the fact that I had started my career from zero to hero. I remember I used to sell even newspapers and match-sticks. Now I am amongst the top three. I had even started Bright Outdoor Digital media by focusing on Twitter, FaceBook and other social media. We keep improving our work. We support regional films as well be it Marathi or Bhojpuri or any other. If anyone comes to my office with some work, I don’t let anyone go back with empty hands.
After making Smile Please and Rafoo Chakkar, he is yet to come up with any more film as a producer.Why?He is brutally honest. “ Though I had produced two small budget films , I’d confess honestly that after facing failure I have decided to drop the plan of production. I did not have experience so I started with small budget films as after that I thought of doing a big budget film.
Yogeshbhai is happy and proud that this year, he has completed the dialysis operations for almost ten thousand poor people in the city of Mumbai. “I do not charge the poor people for their operations but I make it a point to charge a fee of Rs 500 for the middle class people for the dialysis operations. Also during the ongoing lockdown, I made it a point to donate sums ranging from Rs 2500 to Rs 10,000 to different poor people, including journalists who have been rendered jobless, especially the freelancers.
Yogeshbhai , who takes pride in looking after his old parents religiously, says that he was thrilled to have bagged An award at the London Parliament for his yeoman services to not only the poor in the society but also for his business of hoardings. The philanthropist that he is, Yogeshbhai has not retrenched his staff and even today his office runs. The staff members attend the office on alternative days and he manages to give them 50% salary, even though he is not making profits, as he says his business is down by 30% due to the onset of coronavirus in the country.
What did you do to do away the sufferings of those who were afflicted with the corona virus during the ongoing lockdown? I asked Yogeshbhai . Pat came the reply, straight from his heart, “The first thing that I did when the novel coronavirus started in India was to hold an awareness campaign for BMC about what exactly the ailment is and how to take precautions by way of sanitizing and wearing masks when you go out and meet people. I came up with free hoardings for the citizens all over Mumbai city and suburbs. In fact, I have also been awarded with a few certificates felicitating me for being a diligent corona warrior.”
As a socially aware citizen, though I am into the hoarding business with my Bright Advertising, I have always made it a point to support all social and religious functions which are held in Mumbai from time to time with my generous contributions and donations. I have learnt a lot from my old parents that if I help others generously God up there will also come forward to help me as far as health and wealth are concerned. I still make it a point to walk at least a kilometer or two every morning because I feel that it is very necessary to maintain good health.”
Yogeshbhai continues with bated breath, “I shun all kinds of vices. I do not touch alcohol, tea or coffee, forget drugs. If I want, because there is more tension and less profits in this business of hoardings today, if I want, I can retire even today as I have put in 40 years of glorious service and enjoy every day of my life and have a happy and contented family which consists of my wife, my five year old son and my parents, but I do not want to make others suffer because of my decision to take it easy. You see as many as 500 people who are connected with me thanks to my business, are liable to be rendered jobless if I take the rash decision of calling it a day as far as my business is concerned.”
Yogeshbhai is all praise for the Chairman of Mayapuri group- Mr P.K. Pajaj, who is steering the company without bothering about tireless efforts and coming up with not only programmes on TV but also a weekly like Mayapuri, besides online platforms like Mayapuri online and the English portal bollyy.com .Yogesh is planning to celebrate his birthday today by distributing food grains and fund to the inmates of an andh ashram at D.N. Nagar near his office in Andheri, an old age home as well as an anathashram.
Yogeshbhai is now all set to make his foray into the digital industry with a Zoom like app named Bright Sherly, which will let space on line to conduct businesses, webinars with expert opinions and also host press conferences now that the lockdown has come up with its own sets of hurdles for businessmen as well as common people in various professions.
Says Yogeshbhai, “In the field of technology, we at Bright are bringing for the first time in India a special mobile appliance where you can come in contact and also arrange a meeting with different categories of people, experts and top celebrities directly through live webinars. Like we say the giving mark is hidden. The present time is the proof where we have turned disaster into a bright opportunity. I can say proudly that five youngsters from our Saurashtra Bhavnagar city and one of their mentors and a teacher have come up with a mobile application where you can meet professional experts directly through video conferences on the same platform. Bright is all set to bring the meeting app, where you will find the rare confluence of quality as well as excellence, experiences and confidence and last but not the least remedy as well as training.”
Talking about the menace of Covid virus during the ongoing pandemic, Yogesh says that it has affected his social activities in the sense that he has stopped distributing the monthly provisions in the form of grains to residents who are from the lower strata in Borivali for the past six months a practice which he had started ten years ago, though he used to distribute it to thousands of people before Covid set in way back in March this year in and around Mumbai.
Yogesh plans to restore his activity as early as possible when the government of Maharashtra relaxes the stringent conditions imposed on not letting more than 20 people congregate at one time in public. “I have a gut feeling and I am confident that Covid will not affect me and my family because I have positivity and spread cheer as well as positivity all around me in my day to day life and never think ill of any one. I am also not at all jealous of whatever I find around me because I am content to the core.
Yogeshbhai reiterates that Mumbai will limp back to normalcy after having been in a limbo for the past six months due to the lockdown only if the government of Maharashtra allows theaters as well as local trains to operate in full swing, because in the absence of frequent trains for the common man, there is chaos on roads with heavy traffic at any time of the day.
Signing off this interview over the phone, Yogeshbhai concludes. “I am more than happy with the way my career has shaped over the last 40 years. I am happy doing publicity. I had also acted in a small role in Rahul Shetty’s Dilwale and Madhur Bhandarkar’s Calendar Girls, though I am not all interested in acting”.