Abid Hussain Barlaskar

“We placed a tripod on a towel and dragged it for tracking shots”: Boman Irani on shooting ad at home

We asked Irani about his experience of shooting his first ‘in-house’ commercial in the middle of a pandemic and a lockdown.

It’s not often that an actor’s own home doubles up as a film set, and his family members don the hats of the only crew members on the ground. No, it’s not a personal family project, but a commercial one.

The latest ad film for Circa 120/80, a portable blood pressure measuring device, features actor Boman Irani. The film was shot inside Irani’s home in Byculla, South Mumbai. The shoot happened under the guidance of Irani’s sons Danesh and Kayoze (both actors). His wife Zenobia, who was the ‘clapper girl’, would also drop in sometimes to give directions.

The film has been crafted and produced by Medulla Communications, a Mumbai-based healthcare agency. Film production and shooting was banned in Mumbai due to the COVID-19 crisis, forcing ad agencies and production houses to look for newer ways to execute projects. The ad is a part of the brand's campaign #ShareYourPressure.

The Circa ad film opens with a reference from the hit movie ‘3 Idiots’ and a pencil sketch (portrait) of Viru Sahastrabuddhe, or ‘Virus’, the grumpy college director played by Irani in the movie.

We asked Irani about his experience of shooting his first ‘in-house’ commercial in the middle of a lockdown.

Irani wondered about the execution when he received the idea. He called his sons to help him out with the ad film, as elaborate shooting couldn’t be done in a selfie format.

“Both were busy with their own work, but I used my influence as a father to get them in. I got them on a call with the director, and production team, and they had meetings after meetings - way more than I’ve ever had in a real studio. We did trial shoots with the phone’s camera and telecasted the feed live over Zoom calls so that the teams could watch what we were doing,” Irani says.

This was followed by a 15-minute meeting before another round of shooting. While it was Danesh, Kayoze and Zenobia on the ground, it was Abhinay Patil (creative director, Medulla) and Falgun Busa (film production lead, Medulla/WYP) on Zoom.

The best part about the shooting was probably the makeshift equipment used for the shoot.

“We would improvise with household material like placing the tripod on a towel and dragging it around for tracking shots. It was Danesh’s idea and was used for the first shot of the film. Again, we would put a selfie stick on a shoe box and then push it for zoom-in shots,” Irani reveals.

While Danesh was handling the boom mike and was in charge of the sound, Kayoze took care of the three iPhones being used for the shoot. The pack shots, too, were taken by hand.

Irani stresses that it had to be done well, and the lockdown could not be a reason for a bad outcome. The multiple meetings and the effort to get the shots and the background right took longer than usual to execute, but there wasn’t another way of doing this.

With no lighting equipment available, the locations had to be well lit areas of the house.

“The locations had to be chosen considering the lighting. We stopped looking at the time and, instead, looked for ways to take the shots. I have to say that it was tiring and the whole house was turned upside down. But it was nice to have the family involved. It was fun to watch them running around, picking up equipment, moving the furniture around, and adjusting the set,” Irani says.

The painting that was used as a prop was actually gifted by one of Irani’s fans.

Have news to share? Write to us atnewsteam@afaqs.com