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Advertising industry veteran Gerson da Cunha dies at 92

Mumbai, January 7

Advertising industry veteran Gerson da Cunha, a multi-faceted personality passionate about civic activism in later years, died here on Friday after a brief illness, a former colleague said.

Da Cunha (92), who wore many hats as an adman, film and theatre actor, social worker, and author, started his career as a journalist working for the Press Trust of India after graduating in science.

He later jumped into advertising, and was also associated with a slew of platforms engaged in civic activism, including NGO AGNI (Action for Good Governance and Networking in India).

Mumbai First, a public-private partnership which had him as a governing board member, said it is deeply saddened by the passing away of Da Cunha. Senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai recalled that Da Cunha had helped distressed Mumbaikars affected by the 1992-93 communal riots.

In a 25-year stint in the advertising industry, Da Cunha had gone on to head Lintas, one of the most formidable names in the advertising business then, and switched to the social sector, which saw him work with the Unicef at global locations.

The work at Unicef had led to him being honoured by the Brazilian government with a medal of ‘Order of Rio Branco’ for his services to the Latin American country in 2018.

Throughout his illustrious career, Da Cunha stuck to his first love of theatre and writing, acting in plays and movies and prolifically publishing books and articles.

He acted in plays and movies such as Electric Moon (1992), Cotton Mary (1999), Asoka (2001) and Water (2005), among others.

Tributes poured in from various quarters for the legendary adman.

“Suddenly our Mumbai has become a few degrees less sophisticated Less dignified and less classy with the demise of #Gerson Dacunha,” tweeted lyricist Javed Akhtar.

“In my childhood I watched him on the stage in many plays: his Othello was unforgettable. Till the last, his presence, voice & aura remained formidable. RIP,” tweeted Congress leader Shashi Tharoor.

“One of the true titans of Indian Advertising; a great theatre aficionado and above all the epitome of grace and refinement. Travel well Gerson Da Cunha and break a leg on the other side,” tweeted columnist Suhel Seth.

Author and columnist Shobaa De also bid farewell to her friend. “Goodbye dear, dear friend. A great thespian and an even greater human being is no more. RIP Gerson da Cunha. Above all else, a large-hearted humanitarian…,” she tweeted. PTI

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