After gully cricket... it's the time to disco

Phir mile hain... break ke baad!! Yes, the famous gully cricket duo - Kapil Dev and the 'kid with the attitude' are back together after a year. One and a half years back MAX was repositioned as the channel on the platform of passion with the two biggest things that drive Indians - movies and cricket. At that time came the new tagline - Deewana Bana De.

Well, the duo are back in a sequel to MAX's gully cricket ad which launched last year around the time of the World Cup. For starters, the sequel which launched on 12 March is almost as good as the first if not better.

But this time round we decided not to do the talking. Instead we tracked down the ad and coaxed IT into talking to us. And mind you, it's an exclusive t?te-?-t?te!

So tell me how were you conceptualized?

You know my sibling; the Gully Cricket ad was and still is quite famous. And I wanted to be just like him. There is a lot that went behind making me what I am today. I may or may not measure up to my elder brother but I know that everyone has tried their best.

My bro was all about cricket when the World Cup was happening and he was liked by viewers and was quite popular. Besides he has also won several accolades through a lot of awards - 14 to be precise in - India and abroad. The Indian Telly Awards, Abby Awards, Emvies, PROMAX Awards, Effies… Gully cricket also won acclaim across North America.

Euro RSCG's vice president (creative) Ashok Karnik

So when a new brand campaign was being thought about Ashok Karnik who is Euro RSCG's vice president (creative) thought why not have a sequel? The agency's art director Bapi Bit came with the idea of Kapil doing the running this time round in the same chawl. And that's how I started taking shape.

Ashok thought that I was going to be a tough task because this time they were talking about movies and not cricket. Kapil is a cricketer and not an actor (although he has showed his acting prowess this time). Secondly, I would inevitably be compared to the Gully cricket ad so I had to be as good. They took me up as a challenge and at the risk of sounding boastful; I think they have pulled it off.

MAX is positioned as a channel wherein the two greatest passions of the country - cricket and movies blend into the channel's programming beautifully. Also SET's business head Rajat Jain felt that the channel's campaign with the tag line of Deewana Bana De had a unique value proposition. The earlier ad was made at a time when cricket was big. Mr Jain feels that Kapil as the brand ambassador is not only a cricketer but also a person driven by the heart as opposed to the mind.

MAX executive VP and business head Rajat Jain

Mr Jain wanted to take the idea forward and wanted to communicate the idea of the channel's positioning of passion or "deewanapan" to the mass target audience at large. Having created that unique communication he thought it was time they thought beyond the World Cup. Earlier the feel, ambience and thought of the channel was very cricket oriented and Mr Jain and the channel officials wanted to take that into the area of movies.

Tell me about yourself now…

There is this jugalbandi between Kapil and the boy (Sameer Khan). It's a love-hate relationship that they share and I'm all about their attitude! Sameer has grown up a bit since last year when he worked in the gully cricket ad and the difference can be seen.

This time round it is Kapil who challenges the kid to a match and is taken aback when he meets him and is asked to wait because Sameer was giving a shot. You know, Sameer is wearing this orange shirt and yellow pants which is totally Govinda "eshtyle"! Kapil has challenged him and the boy asks him to come up where he was in the chawl. Kapil with all his vigour climbs up to the floor the kid is on and when he reaches there, he challenges the boy. But guess what… Sameer asks him to wait and tells him that he will deal with him "take ke baad"! He then breaks into a song and dance sequence with four five other girls and dances to Kal Ho Na Ho's Soni, soni, aaja maahive. The boy has some attitude. But he is very sweet.

MAX brand ambassador Kapil Dev

Kapil finds Sameer to be a very sweet and respectful boy. For the gully cricket ad, Kapil felt that he was a bit stiff, because he was a bit nervous with him. So he had to work at getting him to open up, and by the end of the first film, Sameer had really loosened up. Kapil especially enjoyed shooting for the stills with him feels that he is quite a little gentleman, and very uncomplicated as kids normally are.

Who are the people responsible for giving you the face you have today?

As I told you I was conceptualised by Euro RSCG's Ashok Karnik and Bapi Bit (senior art director). The others from Euro RSCG who worked on me are Suman Srivastava (executive director), Devraj Tripathi (writer), Sachin Vaidya (film executive), Vikas Kumar (AVP), Jocelin Rodricks (senior account executive). My art direction was again done by Bit and Tripathi. And just like my brother, I was also directed by none other than Prahlad Kakkar. My stills have been shot by Hardeep Sachdeva.

What do you think is your USP?

I'll tell you what the people who are associated with me think my USP is. Ashok for one, feels that since Kapil is a legend they didn't have to glorify him and that the story is my USP. The kid's attitude (challenge) is integral to the storyline. When the cast and location remained the same, Ashok felt that the most challenging part was how to surprise the viewer this time. That's why my storyline is the USP.

On the other hand Mr Jain feels that since Kapil is associated with cricket, it doesn't mean that he cannot be in movies but the real hero according to him is the kid and his transition from the cricket oriented environment to a very film oriented environment. He feels that my high point is the deewaanapan of the boy for movies.

The challenge between the boy and Kapil is also of interest as there is an element of competitiveness despite the difference in their stature and age. I also have the potential to take the commercial to a third level six months or one year down the line and have a jugalbandi of sorts. There lies my beauty, if I may say so (Blushes).

What would you, as an ad, offer the viewer?

For one, I will definitely be taking the passion of MAX forward with a lineage towards movies. MAX wants to build a relationship between the boy and Kapil and they will be doing that through me.

What are your feelings on being made as a sequel? You could have been unique, without always being associated with your bro - the Gully cricket ad...

Actually I don't feel all that bad. I think people will like and appreciate me too like the gully cricket. And if something is successful why not carry that forward? Although MAX has plans of consistent brand building throughout the year, the biggest challenge I will face as a sequel is that there will always be a comparison. But I think that my makers feel that this factor kept the tempo up while I was being made.

Mr Jain feels that my plot is so unique and attractive that it evokes passion in the viewer. They are not selling the channel or movie or cricket through me and their other ads. They are selling the position of passion. He also feels that, "If one look at the heterogeneous audience segment that MAX caters to, the one factor that binds them is their "Zest for life" - an attitude of "not a struggler but a winner waiting for his moment of glory. This attitude is all-pervasive in today's society, and is ably captured by the boy, who is not overtly in awe of a celebrity even of Kapil's stature, and stand tall in his conduct. He is respectful yet has tremendous self respect too. The last Gully film shows this attitude, one of a confident young winner waiting for magic to happen, this present film is a sequel of how fast magic can happen."

Also MAX assistant vice president (marketing, PR & commercial) Tushar Shah said that his team wanted to keep building on their brand and they feel that what they have created will constantly differentiate them from an image point of view and I will only take their brand further.

Do you see any competition coming up?

Ummm... well as part of the MAX image campaign, I am the first of three big commercials that will be spawned this year. The other two will soon follow. They are yet to be shot but will not be directed by my director Prahlad.

Then who is going to direct them?

They will be directed by Shamin Desai. We three will be aired during the next four or five months. Thereafter there will be a run up to the Champions Trophy in September so there will be a string of commercials which will try and capture the flavour of cricket once again.

Like I said before, MAX wants to build a relationship between the boy and Kapil and they will be doing that through me and other ads like me which will come out after me in the next few months.

What is the premise of the ads on other media like print and outdoor?

Mr Jain told me that the multimedia campaign will be across the country and will be driven on television not just of the One Alliance network but other local and regional channels, news channels which focus on specific markets like the northern, western and eastern regions of the country.

"Papa kehte hain bada naam karegaa"

While I was taking shape, the agency and the channel shot stills with Kapil and the boy for the outdoor campaign too. They have played on the jugalbandi of Kapil and the kid. The campaign will be released across outdoor, magazines, Internet, cable channels etc and has the theme: MAX Ke Deewane Hum. Aur Aap?

"Yeh dosti... hum nahi chodenge"

The situation of the outdoor campaign is extremely movie like. One hoarding shows a scene from Sholay but instead of Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra it is Kapil Dev and the kid on the famous double seater scooter. The channel and the agency didn't want Kapil to imitate anyone. Tushar said that Kapil is a cricket star who enjoys watching movies like any other Indian does. So while they wanted to keep his image pristine, they also wanted to reflect his passion for movies through the hoardings. And it was one way of keeping his image alive and yet showing the passion.

Do you have any idea what kind of money has been spent in making you?

Well, I am not sure of the number but I am sure that MAX has allotted us the kind of spends that a reasonable sized multimedia campaign deserves.

Mr Jain said that brands are built up slowly unlike a product and I have a life for a year or so unlike some other specific ads of other brands and properties. He said that making me was like taking the brand - MAX from one stage to the other. Over time it will be refreshed with new things for which the window is kept open for creativity.

What is the underlying thought that your makers are trying to convey through you?

Well, according to Mr Jain, the underlying thought is simple: passion makes life magical, just as passion on their channel makes entertainment magical. Also from the channel point of view, I cleverly bring in an element of movies and cricket together, showcasing the twin passions that are the pillars of their programming - i.e., movies and special events like cricket.

Out of you and your sibling, who do you think Kapil enjoyed acting in?

You shouldn't be asking me that. Obviously I will say and also hope that he liked acting in me more. Both of us (the gully cricket ad and I) have the same characters - the boy and Kapil - but actually we are very different from each other and its just not about role reversal. However I happened to hear Kapil say that I am a logical and very interesting extension of the Deewana Bana De passion platform of the earlier film. My guess would be that Kapil liked both ad films equally. (Smiles)

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