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  • Writer's pictureAnanya Biswas

A Boy From Jalaun

Updated: Feb 19

The year was 2019.

We were a small advertising company of about 6-7 people in Kolkata growing fast, hungry and foolish. We had put out yet another ad on LinkedIn. With every talented person worth their salt leaving the city for bigger brands and better pay, this was quite a challenge.

Yet sometimes, just sometimes, it just so happens because of destiny - or perhaps the diversity that is India - that the apple falls in front of you just when you were looking - we got an interesting applicant.

You know when you can just sense a fitment?

Shantanu, when he joined us, was everything that he promised.

He had a keen interest in Visual Arts and Illustration.

He had a (peculiar) fascination towards 2D - (which later even converted to 3D and I believe he would have loved to have taken it up to any number of Ds) - interpretations of natural and supernatural phenomenon.

He was eager to contribute.

And he always delivered his best.

He initially had some problems developing ideas from scratch though, as he was the quiet, stubborn yet unassertive type. He barely spoke in his first week.

But the rest of us had a lot to say. And we said it. All the time.

So he was somewhat forced to make friends.

In the following years, we witnessed Shantanu bloom in ways honest talent does when you put them in a fast, hungry, foolish environment.

They start making jokes.

Their font choices get much better.

They start dominating the office Spotify playlist.

Shantanu was like a sponge. He absorbed everything and he spoke very little, so everybody loved him. He was very unwillingly popular. He also had very keen interest in working with fonts.

Special mention in this regard would be the Sanmarg-Aparajita campaign we did in 2021. He wanted to open up a wood-art shop someday.

Prakash was our senior designer at that point and Shantanu looked upto him quite a bit.

You can see the influence on his broadening fonts, vision and abdomen.

The price of progress.

His closest friend in office was arguably Sourab, their quid pro quo bihari - bangali cultural exchange used to benefit our communal revelries quite regularly.

He never spoke much about his family but he always used to go home for Diwali.

He spoke sometimes of his sister, you could make out how proud he was of her from his gleaming eyes.

He used to come to office everyday.

Even when it was raining cats and dogs.

We would like to think we were his home away from home.

Shantanu's design style was initially dark and grunge - he had this peculiar thing about interpretations of death and the colour red - I remember this VERB calendar we tried to do once and Shantanu came up with a rotting dead body and crows - it was beautifully drawn, superbly detailed, but too gory for an office calendar unless you are trying to send a message to a client.  

I couldn't find that particular artwork but here is another piece he did for VERB during the Covid lockdown (much toned down from the initial draft).

covid19 social media post
VERB social media creative for COVID-19

Shantanu used to compete with Sreya when it came to illustration. Sreya had her own unique signature but whereas Shantanu was a good artist, he did not have a set style. It kept changing constantly as he drew inspiration from his peers.

With the Covid addition of Nalini, who was another powerhouse designer with a neon-steam-punk kinda flair, end of 2021 saw Shantanu's metamorphosis into clean, sharp, minimal but pop-out aesthetics - as can be demonstrated in his UI and UX screens for eOxegen.

Original artwork by Shantanu for the NDLI calendar:

Client: eOxegen | Creative: Prakash, Shantanu, Nalini, Souhittyo | Content: Swapnajit, Ananya | Servicing: Debadrita, Indra

And so he evolved and evolved and evolved.

His video editing skills got so much better.

He got promoted.

We had neon parties.

He picked up UI/UX.

We designed beautiful creatives, websites, packaging, brand-kits, events, print-work.

We had beer and birthday parties on the VERB terrace.

We designed stalls, books, calendars, vans, posters, billboards, you-name-it.

Covid came, he did not go home, we delivered his system to his PG in Salt Lake.

We built Covid resilience campaigns.

We won awards.

We had themed, ethnic, fuck-it-i'm-so-bored, wont-work-today parties.

We went for a company offsite - his first trip to the mountains!

Then came a fateful day when Shantanu left us for a bigger brand and better pay.

We said our teary farewells amongst incoherent, emotional speeches and copious amounts of beer on the terrace.

Here is a picture of Shantanu on his last afternoon at VERB:

Shantanu passed away of a sudden heart attack at his Bangalore apartment in September, 2022. Born on November 10th, 1995, he was 27 years old at the time.

When we heard the news we did not know how to process it, especially after two years of Covid, so we did not process it at all.

This testament to his life, work, love, dedication, camaraderie was long due.

This very long and personal note is for his friends, family and loved ones to share and cherish and for us at VERB to proudly display for the world at large.

Here is to you, Shantanu.

You are dearly missed and fondly remembered.


Below is a non-exhaustive gallery of Shantanu's work at VERB over the years for various clients:

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