This is the story of our times. About how a virus could redraw, reorder, and rewrite our lives so irrevocably. So with a near-global lockdown in place, how do we celebrate festivals that were until recently intimate and community affairs? Except of course virtually. P. K. ANIL KUMAR, a former Executive Creative Director, Bates Mumbai, wanted to celebrate Vishu, the Malayali harvest and New Year festival, the equivalent of Baisakhi, Poila Boishakh, Bihu, Puthandu, and so on that celebrate the extraordinary cultural diversity of India — that land of endless festivals. Anil brought together 14 of his childhood friends from India and abroad for a Vishu lunch. Anil spoke to our Editor-in-Chief K. G. SREENIVAS and told him how the “virtual story” took “real shape” and how 15 of them ol’ friends had a great Vishu sadya (Malayalam for “a lavish luncheon”). Watch ‘Lockdown Vishu‘ below.
So, it has all changed… even the way we celebrate our festivals. On 14th April, the day of Vishu, the harvest festival for Malayalis, I thought why not invite home my classmates and childhood friends of more than 30 years.
“A lavish feast we eagerly look forward to every year.. So we decided to continue the tradition, but with a difference — by maintaining physical distance, if not social distance.
“Though we conceptualised it just when the lockdown was announced, we had to wait till the 14th April because we couldn’t have released it before Vishu.
“But we 15 of us — the principal protagonists — couldn’t have made it possible without the support of our families. So while I directed them from Mumbai, their families held the camera and wielded it. My cast, a couple of them sitting several oceans away, played their parts in Perth, Dubai, Vizag, Secunderabad, Gurgaon, Ambala, Karnal, Bangalore, and Mumbai.
“It wasn’t easy, as barring a couple, they weren’t expected to be seasoned thespians to be able to take to the camera like duck to water. They come from diverse fields, such as the armed forces, software, sales, web designing, HR, media, aviation, medicine, and academics and have had the faintest connection with filmmaking or advertising, but displayed tremendous spirit in taking on the inevitable retakes. Till they gave their best!
“So it was the spirit, rather than technical perfection or performative finesse that mattered the most. We pulled it off, from within the confines of our four walls across thousands of kilometres.
“This was our in-camera lockdown moment!
“What was the idea beyond the creative conceit? To send out the message that if you’ve friends with whom you share priceless memories, you can be together wherever you are.
“So stay home and celebrate life.
“For when your memories are built on irrevocable bonds of friendship you can build castles in air.
Wish you all a very happy Vishu!”
Anil has been an advertising professional with close to 25 years in the industry and has worked with most of the big ones — McCann Erickson Delhi and Mumbai, RK Swamy BBDO, Bates Chi & Partners, BBDO Lanka (Projects), among others. He worked with brands, such as Nerolac, Onida, NDTV, Marico, Vaseline, Fortune Oils, Aquaguard, Mood, Bacardi, Sprite, MasterCard, and Perfetti to name a few.
Anil, who also has had his share of the metals at Cannes (Print, Outdoor, Radio), One Show, Spikes, AdFest, and others, worked on two feature films Ishqdaariyaan and Praana (multilingual) as screenplay writer, dialogue writer, and lyricist. Both films were directed by National Award winning director V. K. Prakash.
One of Anil’s favourite campaigns, among a few others, was that of Onida, where he was instrumental in re-positioning it as a more modern brand while dropping the famous Devil as its mascot. The iconic tagline “Neighbour’s envy, Owner’s pride” was replaced by “Tumko Dekha Toh ye Design Aaya”.