Never Ending Story's founder Amitabh Bhattacharya on the top Indian directors on his radar
Indian production company Never Ending Story is a proud supporter of Little Black Book as its partner for the Indian market. As part of the relationship its founder Amitabh Bhattacharya and LBB explore what makes India’s advertising industry tick. Here Amitabh speaks to LBB’s Natasha Patel about the directing talent that have inspired him through the years.
Advertising filmmaking in India has always had an abundance of artistic talent, but the industry has not always cultivated and nurtured creativity as it should. The absence of a creative culture slows down the process of creative evolution. Creative minds in India often have to deal with harsher conditions compared to their counterparts in the West. In such an environment, excellence is deprioritised and creativity compromised and people automatically take their inspiration from Western ideas. But there are some exceptions who have weathered these conditions and excelled in their craft.
In an industry where talents have a short shelf life, to be at the top of your game for more than a decade is a stupendous achievement. These are the directors who have given a distinct voice to Indian advertising filmmaking. They may or may not have won international awards, but their effort and their work is changing the way Indian advertising is viewed and rated both in India and around the world.
The first and obvious name that comes to mind is Prasoon Pandey. The only Indian director to win the Lion of St Mark (he was a joint winner with his legendary brother Piyush Pandey), he is one advertising director whose work defines a genre.
In a country where humour is so in your face and often slapstick, Prasoon’s school of humour is intelligent yet universally appealing. But there is another side of Prasoon’s work that today’s generation is not aware of: His cinematic non-comedy films. Visually stunning and way ahead of their times, his work for brands like BPL mobile, Allen Solly and Wills Lifestyle give us a peep into Prasoon’s genius.
Though Ayappa has not been around for as long as Prasoon, his rise to stardom lies in his relentless quest to create his own distinct visual language. He has repeatedly shown the courage to break the mould of a more classical style of storytelling.
Varma (that’s how his friends and we lesser mortals address him) is a painter of moving pictures. Every frame is so meticulously planned and beautifully executed, almost flawless. He has transformed advertising filmmaking in India into an art form.
For me Suresh is a pioneer. In a country where animation continues to be considered childish and restricted to kids brands, his passion and craft has defied convention. Not only has he directed some of the finest animated commercials in India, he has also changed the perception of animation amongst brands and advertising agencies.
Shashank Chaturvedi (Bob)
Bob is the ‘Boy Wonder’ among advertising directors in India. With over 100 ads under his belt, his work is beautiful and effortless
I always look forward to what Bharat has in store for us. Before he donned the director’s hat, Bharat was a famous photographer telling compelling human stories through still images. To see him put all his talent and experience as a photographer into filmmaking is a lesson for every filmmaker. Whether working in live action or mixed medium, Bharat always manages to make his films beautiful without ever overdressing them.
What can I say about someone who unknowingly became my mentor? Vinil, one of the most sought-after directors in the Indian advertising industry, taught me how far discipline can take you. As a producer, I have had the privilege of working with many directors but what I learned from Vinil has been the lesson of a lifetime. His care for his craft and his attention to detail are exemplary and he is an inspiration to every young director.
Indian cinema has thrived on stories about urban middle class. And Indian advertising often draws inspiration from this immensely popular genre. One director who tells these stories with elan and elegance is Amit Sharma. His films are real. They tug a chord in your heart and almost always bring a smile to your face.
Before I write about Gauri’s work, I want to mention a very important point. India always had some amazing women directors, both in advertising and mainstream cinema. I can’t imagine how challenging it has been for them to make their mark in a male dominated industry, but their work has had a huge impact on Indian viewers and filmmakers for generations. And Gauri is surely one among them. Her debut feature, English-Vinglish is a milestone in Indian cinema. She can make you laugh and cry at the same time. Her humour is subtle, intelligent and her ads very memorable.