11th July, On location – Jaisalmer
Our crazy story of making it into a Indian TV commercial…one of our most unique and bizarre experiences of India! Indian Advertising, look out the fresh talent is likely to take over.
Updated: Here is the link to the advertisement, we’re on top of the bus at around 16-17 aseconds:
It all started with a knock on our hotel room door one evening, the guest house owner came to ask us how long we were planning on staying in Jaisalmer…followed by a statement about how one of his friends was coming to town to do some advertising…both Jono and I thought he was about to ask if we would be able to vacate our room so his friend could stay in it! Instead, he asked us if we had any interest in helping his friend out by featuring in the advertising that he was going to be doing! Initial reaction was, “Yeah why not?” , then followed by questions about what it was for. He didn’t know the details so we agreed to meet his friend the next morning to get a run down on what it was all about. The next morning his friend arrived and told us they were shooting a television commercial and needed a couple of people to act as backpackers; he took us down to the set to chat with the director about what was required. We were a little sceptical about what type of production it was going to be but it all seemed pretty legitimate – people with headsets everywhere, camera crews etc, we learnt that most of the shooting crew were there from Mumbai. Jono and I, always being up for new experiences, signed on and arranged a pick up at 12:30 to head to the next location where we’d be provided with lunch etc.
We’d been told we’d be required from 1pm – 4pm, so we were picked up in an air-con car at 12:30 and taken up into Jaisalmer Fort where current shooting was happening. We had our pack packs as props and really dressed up like true back packers! We were shown to a restaurant where we sat around for 30 mins chatting and relaxing – then a full Indian buffet lunch was served so I decided to make the most of that and got stuck in! Then a long wait ensued, it was around 4pm we decided that we couldn’t be bothered waiting anymore so left the restaurant and went to find our minder. At which point the entire crew were packing up a couple of oldschool buses and getting ready to head out into the desert – where our part was about to be shot so we were escorted on the bus and given seats at the front – true VIP. Priyanka, a free-lance director/producer from Mumbai, was our minder and we had a good chat to her about what was happening.
We arrived on set in the desert and were asked to climb up onto the top of one of the buses, and were follwed by half a dozen Indian guys and a few props that looked like cargo on top of the bus. At this point the director, cameraman and crew were already on top of the bus and we got our instructions – which consisted of two actions. The advertisement itself was for a mouth freshner that had saffron added to it; we were going to be driving through the desert on top of the bus as safron rained down on us (shredded red wood chips). When it rained saffron the Indian guys were going to be smiling and rejoicing with their hands up to the gods and Jono and I were to basically give off and I quote “What the heck” looks and actions i.e. what the heck are these Indian guys one about and what is this crap falling from the sky.
So we started the shoot, our bus drove along the road in the desert (that of course wasn’t closed and I doubt the film crew needed permits!) while another bus drove along side us with air cannons blowing these red stained shredded woodchips into the air – that the desert winds were of course blowing sideways and smashing us in the face! For the next 30 mins we took a few different takes, Jono and I putting on our best “What the heck?” performances for the camera – and of course we were told that we were doing it perfectly and it was the Indian guys that needed to work on their form! In the end the director (who was from Malaysia) was happy with what he’d caught and we were back on the ground and heading back to the main headquarters at a hotel – where we were offered food and drinks. It was about 7:30pm by this stage so Wilson and I inicated that we’d like to head back to town; at which point we entered into the negotiation stage for our fee! We were really just there for the experience, so any money was going to be a bonus (we really just wanted a couple of beers!). In the end we got 1,250 rupee each (about $45NZD) which is enough for about 3-4 meals here in India so we walked away stoked with ourselves for 1) having starred in and Indian television commercial and 2) been paid for it!
We’ve been told that the advertisement will go up on youtube once it starts screening on Indian TV so it will be a laugh to see ourselves up on the bigscreen!! Chances are we’ll be picked up in a Bollywood film soon, so perhaps get your autographs while you can!