From phone recharge vouchers to insurance,TV commercials have found a fresh,quirky mascot to sell their wares Kolkata
As we hurtle down the potholed footpaths along the High Court to work,or dodge a deliberately careless army of buses,cycles,and cars on the College Street to get to the Coffee House,theres usually a curse or two on our minds. So,its least likely that we stand back and absorb the warm familiarity of the humdrum,or soak in the curious elegance of the old buildings which seem to be gradually tiring of holding their own against the jumble of modern swank structures. However,bits of Kolkata,which have turned into precious clichés to its people,seem to have captured the imagination of ad filmmakers in the country.
Like the directors of the new Birla Sun Life ad or Prakash Varma. His Vodafone ad,which captures New Market,College Street,Coffee House and the tram in monochrome,fishes out an edgy,stylish visual of the city from the rubble of familiarity. I have always been fascinated by the city. Theres a multi-layered character to it, says Varma. So,while the Bangalore-based ad filmmaker was charmed into shooting the commercial in Kolkata by the engaging plurality of experiences in the city,director Pradeep Sarkar,was a little biased to his city. Its a city you can romance, says Sarkar about the Aegon Religare commercial he shot in Kolkata with Irrfan Khan.
Theres been an overkill of Mumbai in films,commercials and soaps too for the obvious reasons. Kolkata has not been explored all that much, says Nirmalya Majumder,short filmmaker and a copywriter with a radio station. And apart from that with Shah Rukh Khan and other big names associating themselves with the city for the IPL etc,the spotlights have suddenly turned on Kolkata, adds Majumder. And no wonder,ad films are out to cash in on the new-found connect of the city with a national audience.
Varma wanted to show Kolkata in a way it had never been depicted before. Its extremely exciting to try and turn the clichés on their head. The idea came to me after I read some interesting blogs on Kolkata, says Varma. So while most depictions of the city revolve around crowds,parochial Bengali babus in dhotis,disheveled intellectuals and political gatherings (the recent Good Day ad),Verma decided to capture the city in a stark,minimalist avatar. The city,I realized has a very young,modern feel to it. Something I wanted to explore unlike the usual robust old world vivacity it is associated with it, he explains. Sarkar,however,doesnt seem to mind going back to the same.
Its difficult to dissociate Kolkata from the overwhelming warmth it exudes. Its never too boring to work on that, says Sarkar,for whom the architectural elegance of Kolkata is something that never gets too old or jaded.