A short film or an ad campaign, Facebook’s ‘Pooja Didi’ story had all the elements to fill the void for impactful storytelling in the deluge of Diwali campaigns this year. We speak to the creators about the making and what triggered the insight.
“I always dive into the emotion of the story and what the brand is trying to project. I always feel something that people can connect to is what they will accept, and that in turn ends up helping the brand itself,” asserts Amit Sharma who directed the film while his production house Chrome Pictures has produced it.
The helmer further shares that his approach to ad films has never been based on a ‘Hard Sell’. Sharma’s creative stance was yet again reflected in his latest work for Facebook’s ‘Pooja Didi campaign under its ‘More Together’ philosophy.
The film’s plot is centered around the spirit of resilience of 28-year-old Pooja and how she helps sustain as many households as possible through the hardships of the pandemic via her dairy venture. The decision to hire more personnel, even when business is low, comes at a great personal cost. However, the way the plot unfolds showcases the limitless possibilities when people come together, through Facebook in this case.
Taproot Dentsu and Amit Sharma joined hands to add delightful dimensions and creative strokes to the script with impressive narration and a tale so warm.
Sharma was briefed to make something impactful, real, and with a clear message of what we as a society can do together to help each other during these trying times. “We had to bring all the elements in one story making sure that it positively impacts the minds of the viewers. I guess we succeeded,” says an elated Sharma.
The creative team from Taproot Dentsu approached Sharma with the idea. The idea germinates from what the world is going through right now, and the desire to help. It was something that was in plain sight and very important to show that social media can and should be used for the betterment of society.
About conceiving the idea on screen, it comes from Sharma’s personal experience of working closely with those suffering due to the pandemic via his NGO called Phool Versha Foundation.
Initially, the agency team was thinking of capping off the four IPL films – Jersey, Band, Flowers, and Carpenter with a 60 seconder Diwali story.
Diwali being the festival of prosperity and 2020 and prosperity not really sitting together, the helmers knew they had an opportunity to tell an extraordinary story that spoke to the moment.
“Luckily, the clients were as keen. They recognized the potential in the idea, went all-in with us, and took a leap of faith,” shares Neeraj Kanitkar, Senior Creative Director, Taproot Dentsu.
He adds further, “We knew we had something potentially special when people were tearing up during the script narrations. Amit Sharma, of course, took the script to a whole new level. Over the four days of the shoot in Amritsar, he sprinkled his magic dust on all aspects of the story.”
Speaking about the process of making the film, Sharma feels every script has a unique demand and he tries to analyze it before getting into anything. “Once I am sure of what I want to do and how I want to treat the film, we get into the process of looking for a perfect setting for the story, and I felt a small town like Amritsar would do justice,” he says.
The teams then progressed to finding the key faces in the film- faces that viewers can relate to, people we identify within our daily lives. From there on it’s all about connecting the story to the masses through the director’s personal experiences of life.
Weaving the ‘Amritsar’ magic
Shooting in Amritsar has always been very special for Sharma. He thinks this particular film stems out of the current situation and the suffering so many people are going through, hence directing this was personal because he has been a part of their journey in these turbulent times. “This has taught me a lot. I simply put my experience to play here,” he quips.
According to Kanitkar, Sharma’s insertion of a little Punjabi into the dialogues and things like casting locally gives an incredible level of authenticity to the characters complimented by a beautiful track by Sidhant Mago and Mikelal which almost transports the viewers to Amritsar.
“The Chrome Pictures team did an incredible job to pull off a mega-production without any hiccups. Including almost insane-sounding things like recreating the lockdown in one of Amritsar’s busiest (and currently unlocked) bazaars,” he exclaims.
Like somebody said the other day, almost everybody has endured some degree of a struggle this year. “And yet, a lot of us have also managed to do good for others. So, to see that reflected in Pooja and her actions is probably what draws people in. To see the story of selflessness in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, play out to such a deeply satisfying end – all thanks to people coming together – is what we believe made it resonate with so many,” Kanitkar signs off.
The film has garnered 28 Million views on YouTube so far with netizens applauding the efforts of the social media giant towards painting the world of compassion on a crisis-led platter and bringing out the humane side of the world in a totally relatable manner.