Hey, don’t call me sir, my name is Arish. You can call me that.
These are the first words I heard from this man on my first day of job in the animation studio I worked for 10 years.
Man, those were the days. Past glory but it was for real.
I was damn excited because it was a Hollywood based studio and I always wanted to work on international projects, and I got an opportunity to get into one; after a 5-day test period.
In the studio, I found my first professional mentor—Arish Fyzee. Although, I had some years of experience before joining. But I never had any mentor as such. For the first time, I was interacting with someone having decades of international experience and finesse.
I think Arish has been working in the creative industry before I was born and he has done some fantastic work with people across the globe.
Many know him on this planet but I was fortunate to work with him day and night while the studio was being set-up. I used to stay in the studio itself and he was our boss.
After working with Arish, I came to know about visual story-telling in ways that I never could have imagined. He’s the only creative man whom I have never seen in anger; anytime in 10 years.
On the outside, he was our boss but on the inside, he still is a good friend. And he still calls me that when we meet.
And you know what?
He’s the man behind the team who made the dragon for GOT. Around 800 visual artists made this possible—in Mumbai—under his wings.
I remember many beautiful little moments of joy; like drinking beer with him in the studio.
You must be wondering what’s so great in that?
But it was at that time.
I had never seen anyone drinking beer with the founder of the studio in those days. And Arish was a big-man from Hollywood and I never thought that he would be such a simple and humble man to drink a beer with his employees.
I was really scared but he made it so comfortable. Now, this is a quality of noblemen. They make life so easy for people around them.
But there’s more.
He’s a neighbor to Ratan Tata. For my foreign reader who doesn’t know who Ratan is, he’s the mega-industrialist and philanthropist of India. And Arish has been closely associated with the Tata family since childhood.
Once my toy was broken and I was feeling bad. JRD Tata called me to his workshop and fixed my toy personally.
Sometimes he tells me about some moments from past glory when we meet at some party. I really want to explore more of his personal experiences but he’s an extremely busy man.
I don’t think anyone gets his appointment nowadays. Luckily, I have taken his autograph.
In another incident, I was partying with the team in Mumbai’s popular revolving restaurant. We requested Arish to come to the venue for a while.
I was in touch with his driver and I went down to the reception to receive him. One staff was watching me and asked me if I needed any assistance. I just told him that I am waiting for our boss. He asked me his name.
As soon as I said the name, he panicked and told that he’s a regular member of the hotel and ran to make some arrangements. He came for a while, and together we had one of his favorite whiskey.
This is his fame and grace.
He was always interested in visual story-telling and went to Canada to study further. Although coming from the elite family background, he did odd jobs to fund his education. and after graduation, he spent a whole year sailing—he and two school-mates built a 30-foot sailboat and sailed around the world.
Such is the story of a man who comes once in an era—the creative master and a magnanimously humble man.
I call him the युगपुरुष.
We’re not in touch nowadays but I send him birthday wishes every year through electronic mail.
Elvis and Arish share the same birth-date.
My friend—Thank you so much for your thoughts and wishes. I am not sure I have the power to bring happiness to others, but if I can push people to discover their own happiness within them, I have done my part.
This is one response I got on my birthday message in 2008.