Star Sports has fetched an incredible share of conversations with its World Cup-themed 'Mauka Mauka' films. We spoke to Bubblewrap Films, the production house behind the ongoing campaign, to get a sense of how these self-proclaimed underdogs are braving crazy deadlines and exhausting shooting schedules to make it possible.
Sample this: the first Mauka film, India Vs Pakistan has been viewed 2.3 million times in three weeks, and has given rise to more response videos and social media conversations than probably the big match itself.
The team obviously did not know that it would be a long campaign - four films running presently and hopefully with two more to come. On January 22, when a brief came from the Star Sports team, all they knew was that the final spot was to go on air by February 6. Keeping aside the dates for the post-production work, this gave team Bubblewrap a total of five days to work on the film - an impressive feat, considering an ad film generally takes 20-25 days to make.
The idea to incorporate a soundtrack came from Triveni, who felt that if a spot had to play for 10 whole days before the match, it might as well be hammered away on TV along with a suitable tune. Enter freelance music directors Vinayak Salvi and Rohan Utpat.
"The entire brief for the music was that, here was a guy who is searching for the ultimate chance and has still not been lucky enough to get it. Rather than making it gimmicky and spoof-like, we wanted to make it soulful. Also, if you look at it, there are no cricketing sounds in it - there is nothing like 'chauka', etc. in the lyrics," shares Triveni.
Vikas Dubey, from Star, wrote the lyrics, while Salvi and Utpat searched for the perfect singer - someone who could pull off an alaap and a sufi tune with equal ease. From Chandigarh, Alamgir Khan was chosen as the voice and the trio started jamming to find a tune. The duo (Salvi and Utpat), which has worked on KBC (Kohima) and 'Indian Idol' campaigns as well, were given no more than a day to wrap up this leg of the campaign.
"The word has become like a chant now. It's just one word which is sung in different tempos. Once the track picked up, we made it like a tagline for the campaign - the alaapi mauka. It's similar to the way we tease someone by repeating just one word," chimes a smiling Utpat.
All in a day's work?
According to Salvi, a music director can come up with a tune in a few hours or maybe a day. Could they foresee how popular this tune would become? That it would be picked up and recycled by cyber-spoofers and cricket enthusiasts? No. However, they were aware that the platform would be huge.
"Who can ever miss an India-Pakistan match? And any conversation around it is sure to be followed. The platform was immense. We didn't expect it to become this big, but it has picked up and people are even making response videos. One of those response videos has actually got more hits than the original film itself," points out Salvi.
Imitation is the biggest form of flattery, they say. Triveni seems to agree. "Why would anyone stop any of these from happening?" he asks, adding, "take the incredible spot by TVF. 'Mauka Mauka' is spreading through response videos, jokes, t-shirts, etc. It only strengthens the core thought of cricket."
The curiosity behind the campaign has increased with each film. While memes and rumours surface from time to time, Bubblewrap's own 'likes' on Facebook have more than tripled in a matter of weeks.
Briefs come with a day's notice and the team has to deliver, even if it means pulling an all-nighter. And, at the same time, other campaigns cannot be ignored. Work, however, doesn't suffer. This can be gathered from the meticulous detailing in the Mauka films. For example, in the India-Pakistan film, within that one on-screen minute, the protagonist is shown living through five World Cups (1992-2011). Keeping that in mind, the set had to be changed completely each time the passage of four years was shown - not even a lampshade was repeated. Small things, like the television set changing over the years, had to be taken care of.
The Mauka campaign is what Triveni dubs an "organic campaign."
"Because, even I don't know what I am going to shoot this week," he explains, adding, "You can't say who we are going to play against in quarter finals. That is where the in-house brain of Star comes in."
The Mauka campaign has certainly put the six-month-old Bubblewrap Films on the map. As Triveni says, "We are the true underdogs and we love the attention."
Before that, her team will have to tackle the upcoming deadlines for this ongoing Mauka campaign. And, we can bet, going by the beeping phones and subsequent looks exchanged between Surve and her team members during this interview with us, that they have received a fresh batch of deadlines from Star Sports.