Mumbai: Desperate times call for desperate measures. And when it comes to convincing a nation of over a billion people to stop littering, it’s time to call in the troops. No surprise then, that the content company, Business of Ideas, pulled in everyone from Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, to Bollywood actors Kangana Ranaut, Isha Koppikar, Omkar Kapoor, Ravi Kishan as well as Amitabh Bachchan to help with its own version of a Swachh Bharat campaign.
The digital film, which was launched on Wednesday, shows Indians worshipping goddess Lakshmi in their homes, workplaces, and even in their cars. But when they litter, goddess Lakshmi disappears from the photo frames. The stunned devotees wonder where she has run off in a huff, as they catch a glimpse of her red saree fluttering behind her. In the film, Kangana Ranaut plays the role of Goddess Lakshmi. The public service advertisement taps into the belief that Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, only resides in a clean environment. If that wasn’t enough, the voice urging people not to litter, is that of none other than Amitabh Bachchan.
Directed by Pradeep Sarkar of Apocalypso Filmworks Pvt. Ltd, the campaign has been shot in the crowded by-lanes of Mumbai.
While the thought in this campaign is well aligned to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat campaign, it is not funded by the government. “#DontLetHerGo is something that we have been learning since our childhood days. They taught us ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’ and we have conveniently forgotten it thereafter. The advent of Swachh Bharat campaign prompted us to conceptualize an idea where we actually target the psyche of us Indians,” explained Aditya Bhat, founder, Business of Ideas, a company with interests in content, media and entertainment. Bhat was responsible for the concept, casting and screenplay for the film.
The project was produced by philanthropist Anil Murarka who supported the production. “All the actors and director have worked on the film pro bono. Kangana Ranaut and Amitabh Bachchan liked the simplicity of the idea and how easily it communicates such an important issue of anti-littering,” said Bhat.
The film was launched on the content company’s YouTube channel Aur Dikhao. The channel had its brush with fame in February, when it’s first video, ‘11 Minutes’, an anti-smoking public service advertisement starring Sunny Leone broke records by notching up four million views in four days.
The agency is planning to roll out more such films in coming months highlighting causes such as adoption, cancer and blood donations. All these films will have Bollywood stars in it.
“It is quite a noticeable ad. Not only have they used popular Bollywood celebrities, such as Kangana Ranaut, but they have also portrayed her as goddess Lakshmi, a never-seen-before avatar. So it definitely ticks that box. Having said that, I feel like the ad could have been shortened a bit as the same sequence [people littering and goddess Lakshmi disappearing from that space] has been repeated several times in the film. Considering that most people will be watching this on their mobile screens or online, a shorter edit may have been more impactful, said Raghu Bhat, founder director, Scarecrow Communications Ltd.
“Beyond that, the ad takes a two-tone approach. Part of it is appealing to viewers through humour. The other part, is the cultural context. Using this dual tone may dilute the effectiveness. However, the videos at the end of the film which showcase personal pledges from Kangana Ranaut come across as sincere, and that is important in public service advertising,” he added.
Conceptualized for over a month, the film was shot in only one day in Mumbai. The agency is planning to reach out to movie theatres to promote the message further. Currently, it is being promoted on agency’s YouTube channel Aur Dikhao which was launched this year. The campaign hasn’t sought sponsors. “We did not reach out for brand sponsorship for this campaign because we did not want anyone to make money of this cause led film. We are hoping that the government and decision makers notice it,” said Bhat.