afaqs!

A break-free idea: Himani Fast Relief

By Neha Kalra , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | August 07, 2008
The new TVC that has people take the forms of vehicles and machines has been shot at a whopping budget of Rs 1.8 crore

Amitabh & #BANNER1 & # Bachchan, Emami, and Himani Fast Relief can feel relieved for a while now (no pun intended). With the new television commercial for Himani Fast Relief, the instant relief ointment from Emami, the brand seems to have taken a relief from brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, as well as the advertising route that various brands in the category have taken.

The film shows several men forming the essence of various machines and vehicles - human beings take the place of various parts of vehicles and machines. Prasanna Sankhe and Ashish Khazanchi, national creative directors at Publicis Ambience, the creative agency for the brand, are the minds behind this TVC. The film, directed by Ram Madhvani under the banner of Equinox Films, is amongst the big budget films of the year - it has been shot at a whopping budget of Rs 1.8 crore.

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The TVC is about a day in the life of a city. The film opens on the sun rising; a man is heard singing, "Chalo, chalo ji..." People dressed in black come on to the street doing acrobatic stunts. People dressed in red and white costumes are standing around. All of them come together against a thin grid, to form the structure of a bus, and set off; one can hear the voice over "Oh chalo chalo ji..." in the background. "Ki duniya ka chakka ghoome sadhu sant bole. Haan saare bole. Aadmi machine bana, haule haule...Haule Haule machine se dole..." Similarly, men are shown taking the form of taxis and even various machines.

Sankhe says, "The brief was not about a comparative and exaggerative execution. The client was looking for a stirring idea - something which would initiate a quantum leap in product sales too. In terms of the creative thought, in the true sense, men, today, have become machines. And positioning the product—if the machine (man) breaks down, Himani Fast Relief would put you back."

Prasanna Sankhe

Ashish Khazanchi

Senthil Kumar

Sujit Das

KS Chakravarthy

Anand SuspiKhazanchi says, "The product is about pain, and taking a zoom-out view, we have taken the same on a broader platform of life. Though we have not gone very far from the strategy that we have had till date, the brand is way bigger and takes a leadership stance in this TVC. The last frame, which has the cow chewing its cud, is placed, by design, and is there in one of the first frames of the film too - some might notice it, some might not. She remains unaffected by all the hustle and bustle!"

Sankhe confesses that the idea germinated form Khazanchi, who is the copywriter for the film. Khazanchi feels that the film would not be possible without art directors Prashant Godbole and Akash Das.

afaqs! spoke to a few people in the industry about the ad, and all were in awe. Senthil Kumar, executive creative director, JWT India, says, "I think it's fantastic and really brave for a brand such as Emami to do something so edgy and dramatic in craft and execution. Congratulations, but just that this one reminds me almost instantly of the Human Touch commercial by Toyota. Was it? Given that the idea of using people as parts of a machine has been done before, this film actually takes the execution much higher in craft and scale. I love the shop-floor mill / machinery section the best."

Sujit Das, senior creative director, McCann, Bangalore, guessed in the very first instance that it was shot by Ram Madhvani of Equinox Films, Mumbai. He says, "I like the film. I think it's a well executed commercial. Perhaps the best commercial till date, this year. The thought is simple, coming from what we say everyday...we have become machines! Over the years, Himani has been associated with Bachchan and the same kind of theme films. This film is a kind of a 'pain relief', if I may say so - a positive step and a pleasant one. Though, there is a shade of Happydent in the film in terms of execution. Maybe it was a conscious decision to go to Madhvani. "

"It is a beautifully shot film, and has a powerful insight. The execution is undoubtedly path-breaking. In terms of the brand equity and history, in the cluttered market, it will give the brand a larger-than-life quality; it will give it stature," states KS Chakravarthy, national creative director, Draft-FCB Ulka.

Anand Suspi, creative head, Lowe, Delhi, is thrilled to have seen the commercial. "Bombaat. (while growing up, in the local parlance) That's what we would say when we came across anything astounding. Years later in college, it used to be havoc. I am using these words after a long time. This is spectacular. It has a very strong and a relevant insight. It has a Bob Beamon creative leap and the execution is as good as it can get. I really wish I could have thought of this," he exclaims.

Manish Goenka, director, Emami, told afaqs! that the company has allotted a sum of Rs 12 crore for its advertising and marketing. Television, he says, would take up not less than 70-75 per cent of the ad budget. The rest would be taken up by below-the-line activities and print, in order of priority.

It took about six months for the film to take final shape. A bank of 200 people - mainly dancers and 'malkhamb' performers - was put in place for this film, reveals Manoj Shroff, producer, Equinox Films. They were trained for around four months, only to complete the shoot in as much as 10 days.

People were made to hang from thin grids. The framework was built in a manner so as not to obstruct the film's visual appeal. The human stunts were shot on chroma, and were composited with shots of Mumbai, which were shot on backplates. The human shots were shot at Film City, Mumbai. The film has been shot by cameraman Kartik Vijay, and edited by Anshuman Gokel of Pixion, Mumbai.

The music is given by Vishal and Shekhar. The lyrics of the film have been written by Khazanchi, and the song has been sung by Swanand Kirkire. Choreographers Avit Dias and Ganesh (specialist in malkhamb) have trained the people for the stunts. Khvafar and Anna Ipe have acted as assistant directors to Madhvani on the film. Post production was taken up by Tata Elexi.

Publicis Ambience has been on Emami's roster of agencies for more than seven years now. Other agencies on the roster include Rediffusion, Mudra, Grey and JWT.