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“The studios are forced to scout for out-of-the-box ideas”

Vinil Mathew is the man behind Cadbury’s Kuch meetha ho jaye campaign, Airtel ads and many more. The director is now all set to direct his first feature film Hasee Toh Phasee featuring Siddharth Malhotra and Parineeti Chopra.

The Beginning

I have made 250 commercials in the last 12 years. And although I began with ad films, I have always wanted to make movies. I believe every filmmaker wants to make a feature film, to tell a larger story. I had a few scripts but things fell in place only a year ago, when I decided to make my first feature film Hasee Toh Phasee.

On Ad Films

Advertising is no different from filmmaking. While directing an ad, you are also telling a story. The only difference is it’s a short format. It was very intriguing for me because not only was I telling a story, I was also learning to work with the latest technology. The best part is, since it takes only a few days to shoot an ad you move on to your next story very quickly and it doesn’t get boring. You can keep exploring different techniques and you are addressing a different set of audience depending on the brand.

Turning Point

It’s tough to pick a turning point but if I had to, it would be the Vodafone ads that brought me recognition. Then there was the Airtel ad featuring Vidya Balan and Madhavan. After that, all the Cadbury ads have been done by me as was the ‘Kuch meetha ho jaye’ campaign. I don’t think I can name just one ad film as a turning point.

On Hasee Toh Phasee

This movie did not come as a sudden development. It so happened that I developed the script of Hasee Toh Phasee and Phantom Films liked it. Then we collaborated with Dharma Productions, after which we got the actors on board.

Struggles, If Any…

I wouldn’t use the word ‘struggle’. I was directing ad films with a friend and was also writing film scripts. We approached many people with the script of Hasee Toh Phasee. It is a huge learning experience, learning to approach actors, pitch a script, meeting studios, understanding what excites them, etc. All this helps understand how the film industry works.

The Challenges

The audience has become very demanding and this forces studios to scout for out-of-the-box ideas. It helps to be an ad filmmaker because we, with every ad, are dealing with the pulse of the audience. We’re also well-versed with the technology of filmmaking.

Ad Films Vs Feature Films

It’s an altogether different approach. With my first feature film, I realised I had to be very focused because people would be watching it for three hours, unlike an advertisement, which is over in the blink of an eye. While making a film, I am solely responsible for it, whereas with an ad film, I could blame the agency or someone else while on the flipside, you have people to support you.

On His Producers

I am very lucky to have got to work with creative people like Karan Johar and the Phantom team on my first film. Since they are very creative, they do not underestimate the creativity or newness that you bring to your film.

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