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"I Owe My Creativity To Science" : Exclusive Interview With Aadeeb Shaikh

By: Prakriti | October 6, 2016

Aadeeb Shaikh, the man behind most of the colorful publicity creative of Punjabi Cinema is the proud owner of a well established firm named Thirsty Fish. Based in Mumbai, this company is presently reigning the publicity designing segment in Punjabi cinema, be it for biggest blockbusters or bombardiers at the box office.

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Honestly his posters make the movie look so appealing that one ends up spending the hard earned money to go to to the theatre and watch the movie, even if the final movie isn't that good!

Thirsty Fish has surely changed the face of Punjabi movie posters from being a mutistarrer display of actors to much more appealing and creative artwork.

aadeeb shaikh

Prakriti Malhotra had a chit chat with Aadeeb about his journey in the Punjabi industry, from his first step till date:

How did you enter the creative field of designing?

I owe it all to science. I hail from the parental notion that being successful means being an engineer or a doctor. Was forced into learning science but it didn’t last much. I lost interest in academics. Ideas and visuals have always fascinated me. Sooner or later I had to lean towards it. I graduated with Masters in Advertising and seriously, I owe it all to my parents, who stood by me in this decision.

How did Thirsty Fish come up?

After finishing college with a degree in my hand, I realized cracking a job in big ad agencies was not easy. After some odd jobs here and there, I finally landed into a new world of movie posters. Back then, I was working as a copywriter who could do some designing. As years passed, one opportunity led to another. I became the National Creative Consultant for a radio company but soon I realised that my job was getting monotonous. I had to rejig my life and that's when I started picking odd freelance jobs and hence started a mad studio ‘Thirsty Fish’!

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The name is quite creative, how did that come up?

‘Thirsty Fish’ is an idea and it hit me just like it. I was fascinated by the whole idea of the fish being thirsty in water. It symbolizes so much. Just like we live in a world of ideas, but still we are always looking for them, always ‘thirsty’.

Thirsty Fish is in Mumbai but how did you manage getting business from the Punjabi film industry?

All thanks and credit to an ace film director Navaniat Singh, who gave us the first break with 'Tera Mera Ki Rishta'. Back then, the Punjabi industry was undergoing a major revolution. 'Tera Mera Ki Rishta' became our first Punjabi film and since then, there has been no looking back.

aadeeb shaikh


You are not a Punjabi but are making posters for almost all Punjabi movies. How do you connect with the language and culture?

A poster is an idea. It never belongs to a particular culture or an industry. If the idea is good, it will always have an audience.

Do you find any difficulty while making Punjabi artwork?

Sometimes it takes a moment to crack a poster idea and sometimes, even weeks. An idea not cracked, gives me sleepless nights. It makes me restless. But then, I guess that’s the beauty of creativity.

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Do you end up watching these movies as well?

Unfortunately not many Punjabi films get released in Mumbai. Few of the films that I've watched are Shareek, Punjab 1984 and Jatt & Juliet 1 & 2.

Define the concept behind Thirsty Fish?

Thirsty Fish is an idea driven design agency. For us, a design without an idea is just like a lock without it's key.

The team from the industry whom you've loved working with?

We’ve been fortunate enough to work with the who’s who of the industry. They’ve given us so much love, respect and freedom. It’s very tough to pick ‘n’ choose, but we’ve enjoyed so much working especially with directors like Anurag Singh, Navaniat Singh, Rohit Jugraj besides others.

Share with us your overall experience while shooting for movie posters?

By the grace of the Almighty, we’ve completed 50 films now. From the scorching 40 degree plus temperatures of Amritsar in Punjab 1984 to the soothing air-conditioned studios, our pursuit for the perfect poster has taken us to every nook and corner of Punjab, and beyond. It has surely been a fulfilling journey, forever bursting with experiences and fun.

aadeeb shaikh

We have often seen Bollywood movies copying poster designs. What is your take on it?

I think the entire creative process is at fault. The production company expects the design agencies to present photoshoped posters, even before the photo-shoot. This makes the designing agencies hand tied and that's when they start looking for inspiration. All this could change if both parties share ideas and not pre-designed posters.

What’s the most challenging part, in your opinion, as far as designing for Punjabi films is concerned?

The most challenging part for designing any poster, is capturing eyeballs. The audiences need to not only look at the poster, but wait.. take note.. and ponder. Now that’s a tough call to expect from the audience in this busy world. Its all about squeezing the entire film in one frame. One idea. One poster.

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You work on projects other than Punjabi industry also. Share with us about them?

Over the years we have diversified into production of short films and organizing events. Some of our films, which are in production, will be released in 2016.

On the events side, we’ve transformed the entire concept of ‘Thirsty Fish’ into a pool party.

What is that one thing which you love about Punjabi film industry while working here?

The one thing of many things, that I personally adore about the Punjabi film industry, is the love and warmth of the people. It’s just like one big family for me.

What is that thing you would want to change about the industry?

I personally don’t like any regional cinema to be looked down upon. I seriously wish that every industry gets treated equally, with the same amount of sincerity and respect.

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