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“I brought the vernacular medium to Indian ads”

Dilip Ghosh started his career in 1982, but he had to harbour his dream to direct feature films for a long time because he was busy carving a name for himself in the world of ad films. This veteran made his debut to film direction with Commando in 2012.


My family wanted me to study and I was pursuing law but I wasn’t interested in the subject. So I quit my law studies and joined film school, where I specialised in filmmaking. My family was not one bit happy but I had got there with a National scholarship so my parents didn’t have to sponsor my film studies. Back then, I made many documentary films as projects, where I roped in actors like Naseeruddin Shah and Dalip Tahil.


Even before I completed my studies, I had two offers from two producers who wanted to make a film with me. I was very happy but I also became overconfident. But things did not click and I realised that more than making a film, these people wanted to hang out with me, to hear more about filmmaking.

Then I was approached by a South filmmaker GV Iyer, who made the first Sanskrit film in India. He was a talent house but after working with him for six months, I realised that it wasn’t my cup of tea. So I came back to Mumbai and was approached by an ad company and fell in love with ad film making. Within a year, I started my own ad film company.


When I started doing ad films, I was amazed by the way it was done. You get 50 per cent of the amount before you start the film and you finish it within three to four days. You have total control over the film. Also, at the time, there were limited people in ad world. I liked my work so I stuck with it and was extremely successful too. Among my contributions to the world of advertising was that I brought the vernacular medium to Indian advertisements.

First Project

During that time, I made a feature documentary film for NFDC based on child stars. I won a National Award and several international awards too. That was in 1991. The film travelled to 32 festivals and it became the most talked-about film at international film festivals. I was very happy making that film but my CA asked me what I was doing making films that were not fetching any money. He said, ‘We need revenue for the company!’ So I got back to advertisements and continued till 2000. I probably made more than 1,000 ad films.

Ad Films – A Great Teacher

Working in advertising is like being a goldsmith; you have to pay attention to detail. After all, I have to tell an entire story in one minute. But sometimes it was difficult. Times when wanted to tell a story on a bigger platform and I couldn’t.


Then came a point when I felt saturated and I decided to stop making ad films. I was bored and nothing exciting was coming my way. That’s when I started working with 9X channel. Before the channel went on air, I worked with Warner Bros and BBC London. With them, all you have to say is one sentence and they understand what you want to say. Here, it takes three to four hours to explain a concept and they still don’t understand what you’re trying to say. But by the time the channel (9X) went on air, I had resigned.


Vipul and I had been talking about doing a film together for a very long time. We were writing scripts, rejecting ideas and coming up with new ideas… When the Commando script came along, he asked me if I wanted to direct it. I said, ‘Yes, why not?’ and that’s how things fall in place. I wanted to make the film a visual treat, and Sejal Shah, the cinematographer, understood my vision and shot it exactly the way I wanted her to.

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