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Louis Banks: Piyush had told me that his agency's life depended on that Cadbury ad

Louis Banks composed the music for Cadbury Dairy Milk’s iconic ‘Asli Swad Zindagi Ka' campaign, which won five awards in the year it aired (1994). He shares BTS moments…

October 31, 2022 / 05:04 PM IST
In September 2021, Mondelez-owned Cadbury Dairy Milk released a remade/reimagined version of its Cricket ad from the 1990s. (Image: screen grab)

In September 2021, Mondelez-owned Cadbury Dairy Milk released a remade/reimagined version of its Cricket ad from the 1990s. (Image: screen grab)

Louis Banks has worked on thousands of ads over 60-plus years, but one of his favourites still is the 1994 Cadbury Dairy Milk campaign ‘Asli Swad Zindagi Ka’.

Almost three decades later, the ad film still has unprecedented recall. Everyone fondly remembers the ad that has a girl dancing on the cricket ground after her boyfriend hits a six. Last year, the company re-created it with gender role reversal - the girl hits a century and her boyfriend dances on the cricket field to celebrate - with the tagline ‘Waqt badla hai, zindagi ka swaad nahin.”

Louiz Banks, now 81, played at the Blue Fox in Kolkata for nine years before he was 'discovered' by music composer R.D. Burman. Louis Banks

Thinking back, Banks says: “I was going to travel to Calcutta on the day Piyush (Piyush Pandey, chairman of global creative and executive chairman, India, at Oglivy) called me and asked me to compose a jingle for Cadbury. As I had to leave that same evening, I immediately asked him to come to my studio. Piyush came over to my office and showed me a slip where he had scribbled some ideas, and he wanted me to come up with a composition that was sing-able, emotional and full of love and happiness. This was for an ad for Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate, and Piyush told me that his agency's life depended on it.”

With a scenario like that, Banks knew that he had to give it his best. “I started to doodle on the piano and quickly came up with the song. I played the song for Piyush, and he absolutely loved it,” shares the jazz musician.

The same day, Banks recorded it. “Then, I invited Gary Lawyer to record the English version of it and Shankar Mahadevan for the Hindi version of the same. Both Gary and Shankar did a wonderful job, which was obviously made special by Piyush's brilliance. The client loved it too, and it was released on television, and the rest, as we know, is history,” he says.

The ad went on to bag almost all awards that year. "The singers, Gary Lawyer and Shankar Mahadevan, won the best singer awards, Piyush Pandey won the best film award, I won the best jingle composed award, and Cadbury secured the Best Commercial Of The Year Award. A truly unforgettable experience that was made possible through the brilliance of many intelligent and talented minds, making it a one-of-its-kind jingle in the history of Indian advertising.”

Banks who has worked on producing lengthy soundtracks for musicals and plays, to creating film tunes and also composing 60-second ad jingles, says, “Every project came with its uniqueness and challenges, which made them extremely enjoyable. All of my compositions are extremely close to my heart. The projects that I got an opportunity to work on helped me establish myself as a composer and not just a jazz musician. I am thankful to all my fans for the love they have showered for my work and after composing over 10,000 ad jingles, I decided to concentrate on Jazz music.”
Debarati S. Sen is a Mumbai-based independent journalist and consultant content creator. Instagram: @DebaratiSSen