Never make a film to win at Cannes, because then you’ll never do: Abhinay Deo

25 Jun,2012

By Meghna Sharma


The final day at Cannes Lion 2012 turned out excellent for Taproot’s campaign for Mumbai Mirror – I am Mumbai. The advertisement was shortlisted in Film and Film Craft categories and went on to bag India ‘s first ever Gold in the Film Craft category.


The campaign was entered in the Film Craft category by Mumbai-based Ramesh Deo Productions. The film was directed by Abhinay Deo whose work has been shortlisted at Cannes Lion before too. MxMIndia spoke to the winning director to know what it takes to make an award-winning campaign.


It is India’s first ever win in the category, were you expecting a Gold?

Honestly speaking I wasn’t. It’s my job to make a good film and keep entering them at such prestigious award functions. The rest depends purely on the quality of the work!


What goes into directing an award-winning film?

There is no thumb rule for it. All I can say is that one has to be honest to the craft. Never make a film to win an award be it cannes or any other, because then you surely won’t. (Laughs)


The cast had never faced the camera before, so was it difficult to film it?

When you have a cast which has never faced the camera before, it can either be extremely difficult or easy. It all depends on how you break the ice with them because they are bound to have apprehensions and fears about the whole thing. Sometimes such a cast can do wonders and have a film which even a seasoned actor couldn’t have been able to do better. I was sure that I wasn’t going to film the campaign with trained actors or celebrities.


What was the thought process behind shooting the ad in black & white?

Over the years, the city has lost its character. Today, everything is muddled-up; so, to show consistency, we decided to shoot it in black & white. Also, it was a polarised concept and I believe colour would have softened it. It was meant to be a hard-hitting one and B&W helped us achieve that.


How important is an idea to direct for a concept like ‘I am Mumbai’?

Both are important for a concept to work. The idea won’t work without good direction and vice-versa.  Without each other, it will just flop.


How involved was Taproot in the ad?

It was Aggi’s idea all along. Only after the idea was conceptualised, did I take over. And while shooting, it was my baby alone. It is great that Aggi and I know, and are able to understand, each other well, which helped both of us. We were able to execute each other’s ideas and thoughts well.


Some of the reports that are coming out on Cannes Lions attribute the agency for the award. Do you think in advertising, perception-wise, it’s the agency which gets all the credit and not the film company and director?

The campaign won the award for Film Craft category, so I think the award should be attributed to the craft.


As a director, do you have any preferred agencies you work with?

I have worked with most of them and have loved the experience. And I would continue to work with all of them. There are no preferences when it comes to work!


Meanwhile, how’s the work on ’24’ going? When do we see the first season? Since TV is said to take so much of one’s time, does it allow you time for ad films?

The series is in the scripting phase and, hopefully, will soon move to the execution stage. And when the shooting begins, I will give it all the time needed. In the past too, when I was making my two feature films, I didn’t make any advertisements. So, if needed I won’t be taking up advertisements till the series is over. Dedication and honesty towards work are important for me.


Photograph of Abhinay Deo: Fotocorp


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