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When Ram Madhvani spoke about the Amazon Kindle, Airtel Wynk and Happydent Palace campaignsBI India
When Ram Madhvani took us on a walk down memory lane

I take no credit for the Happydent Palace ad, except for making sure I executed in a cussed kind of way: Ram Madhvani

When Ram Madhvani took us on a walk down memory lane
  • Our weekly virtual chat features some of the most loved creative heads and directors who take us on a walk down memory lane, talking about some of the most talked-about and well-appreciated ads they have worked on.
  • In the latest episode, Ram Madhvani, Founder and Director, Equinox Films spoke to us about Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite film, Airtel Wynk’s ad and Happydent’s well-known Palace campaign.
For Ram Madhvani, Founder and Director, Equinox Films, the world of advertising has been a great teacher. While the ad world helped people meet people who have all become a very important part of his life, including his wife, Madhvani, during a recent conversation said that advertising had also taught him work ethic.

“I get a sense of responsibility from the world of advertising. Here things happen on time. Apart from that, I have also learnt a lot about communicating with the audience and the idea that its about what you say, how you say it and how you make people feel. I have learnt a lot of the craft of reaching out to the public, thanks to advertising,” said Madhvani, on the latest episode of BTS with Insiders.

Madhvani who is known for his feature films including Neerja and Let’s Talk is also credited with directing some of the most loved ads in recent times that include multiple ads for Airtel including Har Ek Friend Zaruri Hota Hai, DOcomo, Coca-Cola, Asian Paints and Bisleri among many others.

On BTS with Insiders, Madhvani spoke about 3 ads that he holds dear.

Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite

More than a year after Amazon launched Kindle in India, it came out with a campaign to introduce Indian consumers to the e-reader through a long-form film. The ad was a celebration of people who love stories and books and depicts the joy of reading through the journey of a young man who travels to a village to leave children spellbound with the stories he narrates to them, the same stories he reads on his Kindle device.

Speaking about why the campaign was special for him, Madhvani said, “Since Kindle is all about stories and filmmaking is all about stories, the Kindle film was a demo film about stories. And that’s how we sold it to the client. It was a tremendously exciting opportunity for us too. The film had amazing music by Tajdar Junaid with lyrics and the voice of Swanand Kirkire. The ad has been shot real, without any lights. Many of the shots have been done without permissions, even the one on the plane. I was scolded by a lady on the plane too. We wanted to make the shots real. My producers were able to set this up in a way that we were able to do this in a very small unit.” The intent was also to make the film feel real and more like a documentary.

“While the ad is shot in Sri Lanka, its not meant to look like Sri Lanka. We had to shoot there because we didn’t get permission in Lakshadweep. But I have this quest for the Indian eye. I wanted to understand what an Indian aesthetic is and I realized when you’re framing stuff, apart from it being emotional, its chaotic. The West has told us about the S curve, the rule of thirds or about minimal framing. I had all these conversations with Raj Deepak Das who is a great motivator. He said, ‘We need a new language.’ So we decided all our frames should have foreground, mid ground and background and all the compositions are going to be chaotic,” he shared.

The ad was well received and had over 5.3 million views on Amazon’s official Youtube channel in just 7 days and today Kindle is seeing a huge adoption among Indian readers.

Airtel Wynk

In 2014, Madhvani worked with Taproot on a campaign for Airtel’s music streaming app Wynk. The setting of the film was larger-than-life. It brought together over 700 musicians under one room and featured around 14 different genres of music. All the music featured in the ad were original compositions. The campaign also featured Sanya Malhotra.

“A lot of this is thanks to Agnello Dias, Gopal Vittal and others from the marketing team of Airtel who allow us these acts of madness, believe these ideas and embrace them. That only comes due to the relationships you build with people. Great work comes from a certain creative greed and I can’t lead that. I can only smell that greed. I have realized great creative directors who want great work, people like Dias, Das, Prasoon Joshi and Sajan Raj Kurup, are all mast in their own creative zones and all I did was held on to their tail. In a way they are my co-directors,” added Madhvani.

The film was shot in a day. All the musical parts were rehearsed and pre-recorded. “There were so many people, we had a lot of rushes and so many different genres of music. So it was a lot to handle. However, the entire team handled all of that really well and Hemant Chaturvedi, our director of photography, gave it a rock concert feel. It was also Sanya’s first ad. She came with a completely spontaneous, unfrazzled talent and I would love to work with her again,” added Madhvani.

Happydent’s ‘Palace’

In 2015, Happydent’s Palace commercial was named as one of the World's 20 best ads of the 21st century by the Gunn Report. The ad was conceptualized by Prasoon Joshi and directed by Madhvani.

Speaking about how Joshi’s grand vision was executed, Madhvani said, “Its great working with Prasoon because he has a poet’s mind. It was meant to be a montage film and we had presented a commercial in Delhi which wasn’t a great commercial. And I had thought he would never give me Happydent. But it was really nice of him to trust me. I asked him if we could make a narrative film rather than a montage and he agreed. It was tough. The music was done by Shantanu Moitra and the song was sung by Kailash Kher. Composers Vishal-Shekhar were in the next studio. When the duo came to see the commercial, they said they wanted to be a part of it. So they ended up giving the Qawwali claps in the film,” added Madhvani with a laugh.

He also shared the day after the ad was released, Madhvani visited the Ogilvy office and he got a standing ovation there. “That was a really sweet moment. Also, Sameer Suneja (who is now the global CEO of Perfetti Van Melle) really supported us. We showed him an 85 as well as a 60 seconder because originally it was originally supposed to be 60 seconds long. But after watching the 85 seconder, he said he did not want to watch the other version. It took a lot of courage from the client as well as from Prasoon to back the idea and back me. So I take no credit except for just made sure that I executed it in a cussed kind of way,” explained Madhvani.

While the shoot was supposed to happen in some palace in Rajasthan, it finally happened in Panvel due to lack of funds. However, that hardly affected the final outcome and the ad is still one of Happydent’s most iconic ads.

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