Way back in the 90s, sometime after I quit Cine Blitz as Chief Sub-Editor, I began writing articles and film reviews for The Indian Express. And since Express Towers had almost become my second home for a few months, one afternoon I decided to walk in at the Screen office, which was just a floor or two above.
Editor Rauf Ahmed warmly greeted me and offered me a full tabloid-size-page music column. I went on to write that and many more interviews, articles and some Cover Stories for the Screen Channel supplement for the next 2-3 years.
After that I had to let go, as I changed my profession to public relations. Rauf always encouraged me, when I was a journalist and later, when I was growing in PR. He was one of the sweetest and caring editors I’ve met.
I distinctly remember a moment when he remarked: “Your Press Releases are so newsy and perfect that we don’t need to change a word before publishing them. We can just carry your content as-it-is. You are the only publicist who I can vouch that for.”
In those days, that was some compliment a publicist could ever get, especially from an Editor. And this came for me from the Editor of Screen, a publication I had not only written for, but grown up reading in my school and college days. Moreover, for those who know about Screen from those days, also know that it was like a Bible for film news. Every piece of news in it was taken as most authentic and credible by general readers as well as everyone in the film industry.
I was thrilled and proudly told everyone what Rauf had said about me and my Press Releases. Getting a compliment like that from someone as senior and respected as Rauf Ahmed was no mean achievement. I proudly mentioned it as a testimonial of sorts during some of my guest lectures to BMM students at various colleges too.
Learnt about Rauf’s demise today. Hope he spreads love and warmth in the heavens too. Bye bye, Rauf. Thank you for everything. You will be missed.