Focus on content, not on style

Our internationally produced films mostly win nothing since they are mostly not idea-centric but locale and execution centric

Amitabha Lahiri

Imagine a typical advertising agency where an young man is excitedly talking to his colleague about his choice of a location for a shoot. & #BANNER1 & # His colleague meekly protests, "Shooting abroad…. Just for ten seconds!!" Our man protests vehemently "Shut up… It is a matter of detailing. No compromises please."

Yes, the discussion pertains to yet another agency presenting a script to the client with the backdrop of a foreign locale.

Isn't it paradoxical for a country that has won international accolades for being one of the most coveted tourist destinations? Why is it that a country, which offers a vast canvas of all possible versions of the landscape in abundance, has to borrow natural beauty from the rest of the world? Why are we always nearest to church and further from God?

Is it to do with technical excellence? This theory does not hold much water since our technical people are spreading their wings globally. Cinematographers, music directors, animation experts and even some of the producers are busy with international assignments. And those who are not can easily qualify.

Funnily enough, our internationally produced films mostly win nothing since they are mostly not idea-centric but locale and execution centric. The consumer continues to wonder if his next door neighbour Sharmaji got his car delivered out of the belly of an aircraft, or should he actually walk on the streets with just his undergarments on when he goes abroad next. Amid all this, clients complain of a colossal waste (albeit in vain).

Awards are typically conferred on the strength of the idea and not the location. Some of our locally produced films have done wonders in this front. And hence, most of these budget busters fail on that score too.

Analogies are often drawn from the glitzy executional values of Bollywood. But consider this: For the Oscar nominations of Lagaan or box office success of Sholay, we did not have to swim to foreign shores or cruise along foreign roads and import borrowed scenic beauty.

In fact, the Box Office has mercilessly preferred content over class in the last few years. The rate of failure for most of the mega budget films bereft of a compelling story line has been morbidly scary.

Yet, in our industry, intellectually constipated minds keep on substituting substance with scale.

Come let's all ignore the "Incredible India" and hunt for a location where the water is bluer and the sand whiter.

Put your pen to paper to write the shopping list first and the script next. We are, after all, dream merchants and must realise our own dreams first.

Remember that in God's own country, the Advertising God presides over detailing and not over depth.

(Amitabha Lahiri is an an Associate Vice-President with JWT Delhi)

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