Who is the brain behind Gurmehar Kaur’s India-Pakistan viral video?
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New Delhi: Gurmehar Kaur, the Delhi University (DU) student, who has become the poster girl for the ongoing ‘Save DU campaign’ has been trolled for appearing in a viral video that talks about peace between India and Pakistan.
The video, which shows Kaur opening up about losing her father in a war against Pakistan and why she chose to become a peace ambassador, is a year-old Profile for Peace campaign created by activist and ad filmmaker Ram Subramanian.
The 38-year old advertising professional who has worked in agencies such as Ogilvy, Contract and Trikaya Grey (now Grey India) started an initiative called Voice of Ram in 2014 under which he creates campaigns on social issues.
Also read: What Gurmehar teaches us all
“I started a Facebook page called Voice of Ram talking about social issues that I believed in and soon it took a life of its own. It is a platform which not only highlights a social issue but also offers a solution. It has touched upon issues related to India-Pakistan peace, political activism, anti-corruption and better governance,” said Subramanian.
Besides social media presence, Voice of Ram also has a dedicated website.
In 2014, Subramanian launched the platform with a short film called ‘Mute’ featuring a mute man who expresses his anger over the state of the country. The two and a half minute long film not only became a viral success but was also shortlisted at the prestigious Cannes advertising awards.
Later he created Profile for Peace campaign where he urged people to take selfies with a peace message written on a piece of paper and share it on social media. The campaign saw participation from people in India and Pakistan, including Kaur.
“When I heard her story I instantly felt the need to create this video. Gurmehar volunteers for Voice of Ram and is a part of my Delhi team,” said Subramanian.
While the Profile for Peace campaign found many takers from both the neighbouring countries, celebrities like filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and music composer Vishal Dadlani also extended their support. It was relaunched last year after Indian army’s surgical strike across the Line of Control (LoC) into Pakistani territory.
Subramanian who has volunteered for Arvind Kejriwal’s anti-corruption political movement claims that he is not a member of the Aam Aadmi Party. All the videos of Voice of Ram platform are self-funded. However, his Facebook page carried a vote appeal video of Elvis Gomes, who was AAP’s chief ministerial candidate in the recently-concluded Goa elections, whose results are due on 11 March.
In the last two years, Voice of Ram has managed to partner with celebrities like Irrfan Khan, YouTube star Bhuvam Bam (BB ki vines) and badminton player Saina Nehwal to talk about relevant social issues. Apart from dedicating time social initiatives, Subramanian also runs his own production firm called Handloom Picture Company. He has directed many advertising films for brands across sectors including denim brand Levis, ING Vysya Bank, Thomas Cook, Maggi, OLX and ICICI Bank among others.
With 17 years of experience in advertising, Subramanian started as a writer and his first official stint was with an agency called Akshar in Bengaluru in 2000 where he spent about three months. “In fact, I wrote my first ad when I was in school in Baldwin Boys College, Bengaluru for a website,” he said.
His career took a leap when he joined Trikaya Grey (now Grey Worldwide (India)) as a copywriter. He went on to work for JWT India owned advertising agency Contract and Ogilvy & Mather. In 2008, he entered the ad-film direction space with Nirvana Films. After spending four years at Nirvana, he decided to launch his own production company Handlooom Pictures in 2013.
While Subramanian continues to direct ad films, he is passionate towards bringing a change in society using creative expertise and film making skills.
According to him, advertising industry in India has not been able to create a powerful piece of work ever since Tata Tea’s Jaago Re campaign which urged people to exercise their right to vote. “Advertising is a powerful tool to bring change in society. However, I haven’t seen a successful Indian campaign on a social issue that can mobilize people,” he added.