Searching for Memorieshttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/searching-for-memories-2/

Searching for Memories

Google’s online ad for India crosses borders and generations in its reunion story.

The new Google ad recorded half-a-million hits as it went online on Wednesday. Overnight,people were sharing,tweeting and sinking into nostalgia over the ad that talks about separation,friendship and the celebration of a reunion. It follows the story of two childhood friends separated during Partition and who find each other after six decades with help from their grandchildren through Google.

The scriptwriter for the ad,Sukesh Kumar Nayak of Ogilvy & Mather,says he was pleasantly surprised when a tech giant like Google specified in their brief that the only thing they wanted was to see was how meaningful the search engine is in real life. “Our entire life revolves around Google,it is our instant response to something we don’t know. But we wanted to dig deeper,and make the connection between real life and Google,magical,” says Nayak.

The three-and-half minute ad was shot in different areas in Delhi,including an old haveli in Connaught Place,Red Fort,India Gate and a small scene in Lahore,Pakistan. “We have all heard stories about Partition and how friends and families were separated. So the background for the ad was set. But we wanted to make sure we did not adhere to cliches,” says Mumbai-based Amit Sharma of Chrome Pictures who directed the commercial. Singer Clinton Cerejo has given the music.

As the ad begins we see an 80-something Baldev (VM Badola) in his small store in Delhi narrate the stories of his childhood to his granddaughter Suman (Auritra Ghosh). He remembers the times he spent with his best friend,Yusuf (MS Sathyu),flying kites in a park in Lahore and stealing jhajariyas from Yusuf’s Fazal Sweets. This sends the granddaughter on an online search until she speaks to Yusuf himself. And on her grandfather’s birthday,she arranges a reunion between Yusuf and Baldev.

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The ad has got an overwhelming response on YouTube. “A viewer told me that his grandfather handed his business to his associates,when he moved to India after the Partition. After seeing the ad,he looked it up,and found it thriving. Now he’s planning to connect with his associates again,” says Sharma. The production team were teary-eyed even after they had watched it a million times during editing,says Nayak.

“The real magic happened on the sets,” says Sharma. Badola and Sathyu knew each other from before and would often tease each other on the sets. They have been lauded for their performances,especially the moment they meet each other for the first time. “It was a very emotional moment. Two children who separated when they were 12 and see each other after many years,as 80-year-old grandfathers,” says Sharma. “I don’t work on a computer and I have no idea what Google is. But I am glad to be a part of what I thought was a very sentimental story,” says Sathyu.

People from India and Pakistan are now sharing their Partition stories over social media. “What’s interesting is that the younger generation has only heard stories about Partition,so it’s fantastic to see them so attached to the story,” says Sharma.

amruta.lakhe@expressindia.com