Anil Thakraney: Ad world needs a Yash Chopra

26 Nov,2012

By Anil Thakraney


I write this immediately after watching Yash Chopra’s ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’. And must say I quite liked it, despite the obvious little flaws in the script. And that’s because Chopra was the one director in Bollywood who, apart from having the guts to experiment with stories, was blessed with a sharp eye for aesthetics. Every shot is made to look beautiful, many of them can be frozen into paintings. And this isn’t the first time one has noticed this in a Chopra film. As I walked out of the multiplex, it occurred to me that his death is a bigger loss to the film world than they imagine. Directors will come and go, but it’s rare to find one who combines good storytelling with great art direction.


Which then made me think: What if Yash Chopra had chosen to be an ad filmmaker? I can only imagine the wonderful ads we would have got to watch. And yet, ads that would have stayed true to the storyboard. Indeed, this is the sort of talent the desi advertising world lacks today. We have enough directors who cater to the client’s needs, but they lack an eye for beauty. Yash Chopra would have been the sort of director who would have effortlessly bridged the two worlds. Exactly as he did with his movies.


And here’s what would have happened: Even if the ads had boring scripts, which in fact most do (thanks to risk-averse clients), someone like Chopra would have made them look pretty. The problem with ads, and I now speak as a viewer, is that the same dull, ugly ones keep getting repeat play. And many of them end up testing your patience. Just imagine if they at least looked beautiful. Would we then mind repeat exposures? I believe not. And wouldn’t that be great news for risk-averse brand managers?


Inside the same multiplex, I watched two very boring ads. One, for Vicco Turmeric, which looked so ugly, it made me want to puke. Another one was a straightforward commercial for a brand called Forest Essentials, a skincare product. But it was shot aesthetically, it looked pretty. Therefore, despite nothing happening in the commercial, I enjoyed watching it. But such commercials are very rare.


Yash Chopra, sadly, is gone. But he has left behind a big lesson. For Bollywood. And for advertising.




PS: Super idea from a Los Angeles artist. Change the way hoardings are constructed, make them out of environmentally-friendly, well-watered bamboo gardens. We MUST ape this one in Mumbai. So that even if the yucky faces we are compelled to watch make us cringe, we can at least breathe easy.





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