Adman, activist Gerson da Cunha dies at 92; tributes pour in

Da Cunha wore many hats as a journalist, adman, actor, social worker and author

Gerson da Cunha

Veteran adman Gerson da Cunha, a multi-faceted personality passionate about civic activism in later years, died in Mumbai on Friday (January 7) following a brief illness, a former colleague said. He was 92.

Da Cunha, 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 number of platforms engaged in civic activism, including NGO AGNI (Action for Good Governance and Networking in India).

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


In his 25 years with the advertising industry, Da Cunha headed Lintas, one of the most formidable names in the advertising business, and switched to the social sector, which saw him work with the UNICEF at various locations globally.

Brazil had honoured him with the “Order of Rio Branco” in 2018 for his services to the Latin American country.

Throughout his illustrious career, Da Cunha stuck to his first love – 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 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,” Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said in a tweet.

“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.

(With inputs from agencies)