Shantanu Pandey

Manoj Pillai, The Man Who Brought Heart and Soul Down To Visuals In Axis Bank’s Dil Se Open Campaign

An opportunity to tell a great human story in a larger than life manner gets me hooked instinctively - Manoj.

The audiences are harder to please if you’re just giving them effects, but they’re easy to please if it’s a good storytelling with great implementation and that’s what Manoj Pillai has been doing. Manoj Pillai, the Founder & Director of Thinkpot has brought many scripts to life with great storytelling. Not just in terms of great visuals, but also in terms of strong brand understanding. Thinkpot with an amazing clientele and the work that Manoj has done is quite appreciated being the most versatile director who has worked across a lot of genres of films. Manoj has executed multiple important national and international campaigns that are still the most memorable ones, Intel Global and Amex to name a few. Nestle Munch, Zeitgeist for Verisign, Google the long walk, Incredible India, Google India inspires India and the new Axis Bank Films are some of the recent campaigns he has worked on.

‘Dil Se Open’ by Axis bank, a brand philosophy by narrowing barriers between a customer and the bank. Conceptualised by Lowe Lintas Mumbai and Directed by Manoj Pillai, the campaign, through a multi-ad series showcases stories of people from different walks of life. The objective of the three videos titled Kheti, Bijli and Honey was to tell the world that no matter where the Axis Bank employees belong, be it the remotest part of Leh or the busiest part of Mumbai, be it on a rainy day in the forest of Chattisgarh or late in the night in the streets of Bolpur - they exhibit their indomitable spirit of the customer relationship by doing their best, no matter what. All three videos vary in terms of storytelling and visual grammar.

Watch the ad films here:

Thinkpot has beautifully documented the real-life stories of employees who have lived their promises and gone above and beyond the call of duty. The heart and soul of the campaign was to show the unifying spirit of the employees which was executed well by Manoj. To ensure the stories remain timeless and the impact is long-term, the human stories were told with not just arresting visuals but with a lot of heart too. With 5 different films, and 5 different stories to tell, shot in different locations like Goa, Ladakh and Mumbai, yet bringing it under one campaign is a great masterpiece by Manoj Pillai and Thinnkpot.

Anoop Manohar
Anoop Manohar

It was an absolute pleasure to work with Manoj and Thinkpot films. Their attention to detail, dedication to their craft and ability to understand the brief and translate it to powerful storytelling is simply amazing. Despite multiple challenging situations, the Thinkpot team came through with flying colours - Anoop Manohar, Chief Marketing Officer Axis Bank.

At its core, every film was about a journey and the triumph of the protagonist. At the same time, each film is executed unique yet keeps the spirit of the employees constant. With the casting and performance - the presentation of the characters had the fragrance of the region. Keeping the Axis bank signature tune as the common punctuation, Thinkpot has beautifully moulded its melodies for every individual film keeping in mind the flavour of that region.

"Many folks ask me why am I not getting into the long format yet. I tell them that there's so much to do still in the commercials and the value one can add to every script written is limitless. Every project I take up excites me like the first one I ever did. I thoroughly enjoy every aspect of the process from cracking a treatment to execution to post-production." - Manoj Pillai, Founder & Director, Thinkpot

Amer Jaleel
Amer Jaleel

Commenting on the campaign, Amer Jaleel, Group CCO and Chairman, MullenLowe Lintas Group, states, “Just like in a storybook our writers chanced upon Manoj an imaginative illustrator of stories. He added colour, life, emotion and energy into the Axis tales rendering them riveting and memorable”.

The Nestle Munch - Thaalam commercial conceptualized by Wunderman Thompson with actress Samantha is another hit for Manoj. The 100 feet long snake boat race with over 100 rowers, the tidal conditions and a celebrity like Samantha and COVID restrictions was a tough shoot but was pulled off brilliantly with proper planning and a brilliant crew. To make the race come alive in an exhilarating manner, the FPV drone was used for the first time to shoot snake boats.

Senthil Kumar
Senthil Kumar

Working with the legendary Manoj Pillai is an honour and I always look forward to the enriching experience and the eye for detail learning with every film. His craft is special and he can elevate an ordinary script into an extraordinary film in every frame - Senthil Kumar, COO, Wunderman Thompson.

The Zeitgeist commercial for Verisign is another successful project which was about recreating 100 years of history in 75 seconds and a single frame. The video shows how things got changed over time and how you need to change too, being a business owner. This herculean task was executed in the midst of COVID, based on meticulous and extensive research about every little detail shot in an organic manner.

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