Suraj Ramnath

Taproot's Paddy on adidas 'Odds': "We shot from 4:30 am to 8:00 pm for 3 consecutive days"

'Odds' is the name of adidas' special edition shoes for para-athletes. This ad features Major D P Singh, India's first blade-runner and a war hero.

Odd isn't it? For a man to run when technically he shouldn't even be walking.

To compete in a Marathon on one leg, when really he should be sitting at home and watching it.

To have a head that thumps louder than the heart.

To survive death in a war and still have a war to fight.

So odd to have shrapnel cutting through your body and a blade cushioning the thrust.

To bear his pain while his wounds are covered in bandages, yet keep going.

To risk the other to make up for the one that's already gone.

To do with one what seems impossible even with two.

To run against all odds to prove that nothing is odd.

Odd isn't it?

To run on even grounds, uneven roads, even hurdles, uneven stakes, even starting lines, uneven goals, even steps, uneven feet

And to do it all no matter what

He has evened out the odds.

The question is, have we?

adidas Odds.

An even pair of two lefts or two rights for those who run against the odds.

'Odds' is a special edition pair of shoes created by adidas as a mark of tribute to para-athletes across the world. It is a unique pair of shoes which are either two lefts or two rights for those athletes who defy all the odds in life to participate and win. To promote the same, the adidas' new digital campaign 'adidas Odds', conceptualised by Taproot Dentsu, was recently released on the occasion of the ongoing Paralympics at Rio de Janerio, Brazil, which ends on September 18.

Taproot's Paddy on adidas 'Odds': "We shot from 4:30 am to 8:00 pm for 3 consecutive days"
The film has been produced by Nomad Films and directed by Veneet Bagga, director and founder, Onion Films. The voiceover is that of Bollywood actor Kabir Bedi. While Isobar is the brand's digital agency, Carat is the media agency for the brand.

We asked Santosh Padhi, aka Paddy, co-founder and chief creative officer, Taproot Dentsu, how the agency convinced India's first blade-runner and war hero D P Singh to be a part of the film, as well as about the challenges faced while shooting it.

Taproot's Paddy on adidas 'Odds': "We shot from 4:30 am to 8:00 pm for 3 consecutive days"
"When we told Major (D P) Singh that we wanted to honour the community of para-athletes on the occasion of Paralympics, it was quite obvious that both parties were thinking alike. We met him and explained the campaign and let him know that there would be a brand association without which the story would not be complete. We also explained that his wouldn't be the only face in the film and that there will be more such athletes. It wasn't a difficult task for us to convince him, and we did in an hour's time," says Paddy.

"But, the athletes were spread across different cities and we wanted all of them in Mumbai, Bengaluru, or Delhi, but unfortunately, it didn't happen. We spoke to five people due to the scarcity of time as we wanted to hit during the Paralympics week, but zeroed in on Singh," he says.

Talking about the challenges faced, Paddy says, "It wasn't as easy as it looks in the film. We shot for three consecutive days, from 4.30 am until 8 pm. We were lucky that we had Major Singh as our protagonist. He is a humble man and more importantly, understands our industry and things such as retakes. We made him run on some really odd surfaces such as mountains and muddy roads, but since he had been a part of the army, he would take it up as a challenge and do it seamlessly," he adds.

Paddy says that after the shoot, they would sit and think about how Major Singh did all of it in three days. "If it hadn't been him, I don't think we would have finished the film in three days," he says.

When asked which was the most difficult or challenging location to shoot at, he says, "Almost the entire shoot was challenging. We had to plan quite a lot of stuff, such as moving from one location to another for which we travelled a lot. Hence, all three days were hectic and a nightmare because each sequence or location had a spillover on the other one and it impacted the easy shots."

According to Paddy, although it was the first time for the Major, and he was not a model, he maintained himself throughout the film as an intense, dedicated and passionate runner whose mission in life was to run on uneven surfaces. "That intensity was captured by the director quite well right from the first second until the last. It is not easy if you are not an intelligent guy and especially if you are not a model," he says.

Taproot's Paddy on adidas 'Odds': "We shot from 4:30 am to 8:00 pm for 3 consecutive days"
Talking about his challenge, Bagga, who has directed the film, says, "For me, the challenge was to get a sense of realism, as well as have cinematic appeal. It should look like a legend, but still look real and that was the biggest challenge. I spent two-and-a-half weeks with Major Singh. I went to his house, spoke to him, was running with him in the morning, got his old pictures, and got to know he has an army uniform that he wears once in a while for the sake of nostalgia."

We asked our expert Kailash Surendranath, ad film maker and founder of the film production company Kailash Picture Company, on how difficult he thinks the execution of such films are for the production house and the director.

Taproot's Paddy on adidas 'Odds': "We shot from 4:30 am to 8:00 pm for 3 consecutive days"
"This is a film on a real-life hero -- Major D P Singh. He is obviously a fighter and a champ in every sense of the word. This inspiring film on him works really well because it is so beautifully written and handled at so many levels. It never, for a moment, allows us to feel sorry for the hero, but leaves us inspired, which is very important in this kind of communication. Major Singh comes across as a braveheart," says Surendranath.

In Surendranath's opinion, another key consideration in a subject like this for all those involved in the execution is to make sure that the audience is not subjected to any harsh images. "This aspect, too, has been handled well, despite the prosthetic leg. The images are well-lit, composed, and set in visually pleasing locales," he adds.

According to Surendranath, the film, which is in the guise of an ad for a very niche and specialised product such as adidas' 'Odds', has a limited market and is not a commercially viable product. "But, it does its job by building an image for the brand associated with bravery, effort, and heroism. A brilliantly conceived product range by adidas for this brilliantly executed film," says Surendranath.

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