We make content that is platform agnostic: Aditya Bhat, Aur Dikhao
Aur Dikhao, a digital content creating organisation, has been creating funny and quirky content to promote different social causes. The company has created videos featuring some of the top celebrities who promote these causes.
One would recall the ‘11 minutes’ anti-smoking short film featuring Sunny Leone, Alok Nath and Deepak Dobriyal. This video had stacked up 4 million views in just four days.
Recently, the company also released ‘#DontLetHerGo’, a short film on the lines of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan’. This video, directed by Pradeep Sarkar of ‘Parineeta’ and ‘Mardaani’ fame, featured Kangana Ranaut in the lead role. The video also featured the voice of Amitabh Bachchan. The video gained wide traction, with the Prime Minister as well as several Bollywood celebrities tweeting about it.
Watch the #DontLetHerGo film:
In conversation with AdGully, Aditya Bhat, Head, Aur Dikhao, speaks at length about the company, its work, revenue strategy, the making of the #DontLetHerGo film and more. Excerpts:
Adgully: What is Aur Dikhao all about?
Aditya Bhat: Basically I am a television guy. I have spent over six years in television and being a part of channels I have done over 40 shows in Indian television. ‘Rakhi Ka Swayamvar’ was my first original format that I put together. And after that did events. I set up this company called ‘Business of Ideas’, of which I am the founder and creative thinker. It was set up about three and a half years ago and basically specialized in marketing consultancy. We are a B2B company. We have ventured into digital content this year itself. So we are very young company and as an experiment for us we make content which is platform agnostic, be it television, be it promotions for films, be it events and digital we just started doing. Our first film, which was the anti-smoking film of Sunny Leone, which was again which was again our thought and casting. So I got a team on board and that gave up a boost to do more films. This is one among the multiple modes that we are going to come up with on social causes and Bollywood because that has become a niche for us in the digital space. We have four more films on social content that will go on air soon. This is apart from the regular content that we are shooting on digital, television, etc.
Adgully: Apart from social causes, do you also carry out commercial-oriented work?
AB: I do a lot of brand content. So advertiser or funded programmes. See, I am television guy. So, I have worked with a lot of brands for content. We have never done anything commercial because we are not an advertising agency. However, we are now doing digital content, which is again branded content, which is not related only a short film but more interestingly how brands can actually get their stuff on digital and television or other rounds of format. So it could be a reality show or it could be a webisode and so on.
Adgully: Who are the key people at Aur Dikhao?
AB: I am the founder and the creative thinker. We have a very young team and I am the oldest member with an average age of around 24 years. Ankit Sharma is our Creative Director, he is the next most senior person after me.
Adgully: How old is this organisation?
AB: We are three and a half years old. The channel ‘Aur Dikao’ started in February 2016.
Adgully: How did you arrive at this ideation of using Goddess of Wealth to promote cleanliness?
AB: When I was a child, my grandmother often used to tell me stories. When I used to litter as a child, knowingly or unknowingly, I used to be told this story saying that you shouldn’t litter. Goddess Laxmi, has been on top in mythology, which is a very big industry. Whenever you litter, Laxmi takes the form and she is very angry, this was the story that my grandmother always told me. And this is the story which remained in my mind and I just thought why not spread this simple message of ‘Lakshmi getting away’. That’s how the film was conceptualised.
Adgully: Was there any kind of rethink, keeping in mind the rise in adverse reactions from society when on religion, culture, etc.?
AB: I have gone through some of the comments that are actually on the video and I am quite surprised because I believe that we made entertaining stuff with a social message. Today, I think let’s say ‘Jodhaa Akbar’, where I see Hrithik Roshan as an historical Muslim; ‘OMG: Oh My God’, where I see Akshay Kumar as Krishna, and I do think there are any comments right. People go and watch it for entertainment purpose. But here we don’t want to be preachy, we want to drive home a very subtle point. The reason I was very clear that if I would do this film, it would be done with biggest stars possible, otherwise I won’t do this film because the film which have to be given to the market and for that fact got calls from several FMCG companies who have said to take this film up for television. Other corporate companies also which said that why didn’t you tell us before the film was being made, we would have loved to support this movie. But beyond the cause, beyond the brand it was very true that before we should percolate this down to the masses, we should percolate down to the TG and it remains with you. And it has given the reach, they have been inspired and loved the film. The Prime Minister tweeted about it, we already crossed one million views organically completely because we don’t have budgets to sale in less than 48 hours. So our objective was very clear to inform and entertain and drive home the subtle message. So the objective was not to generate any kind of controversy.
Adgully: How did you go about executing the film? Where was the shoot carried out?
AB: The first person who we approached was Rangoli, Kangana Ranaut’s sister and Kangana was on board. Unlike Sunny’s film, where we had to wait for Sunny’s approval for six months. Kangana loved the concept. We had to work overtime and get a team on board. And thus we got Pradeep Sarkar on board, who has done multiple films. 3-4 days prior we got other members from Bollywood fraternity as cast members who happily came on board like Isha Koppikar and Omkar Kapoor. For a chawl lady I think Isha would be a great option because people had not seen her in recent times. As a paanwala, Bhojpuri superstar Ravi Kishen because the Hindi heartland is where we wanted the masses to spread the message and he is the king of Bhojpuri cinema and also we also wanted a youngster, so therefore Omkar Kapoor, whose ‘Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2’ was a rage also. So this is how the casting was done and the film got made. And obviously last but not the least, Bachchan Sahab, when we spoke to him he loved the concept, the film was ready. He saw the film and immediately agreed to give the voiceover and the film was taken to another level because of his voice. So it just fell into place. Especially Kangana and Bachchan Sahab were my first options. I had not approached Bachchan Sahab before. I wanted him to see the film and the film was ready and that’s when he saw it and that’s when he came on-board.
Adgully: Why Kangana Ranaut?
AB: In one line - ‘Queen of Bollywood’. I think she is the queen really and a Queen to play the Goddess. She was the first and the only option. I don’t think we looked at anyone else. In the past also, if Sunny would have not done the films, there are other films as well where we wanted Bollywood stars. Some of them have said no and we have shelved those films and concepts. Kangana said a yes and thus the film was made.
Adgully: Going forward, are you planning to introduce a ‘Call to action’ element to this communication?
AB: Actually, this film is initiated not by the Ministry. Our message was to just in a sub-conscious mind – do not throw garbage and litter otherwise the Goddess of wealth and prosperity will go away. I think the film itself is a great call for action, which is really talking to the consumer. It just reinforces in the mind the old stories that we all have heard – ‘Gandagi Karoge toh Lakshmi Chali Jayegi’ or ‘Lakshmi naaraz ho jayegi’. So all this was something a reinforcement of that. So I believe that this is the best call for cation and there shouldn’t be any other call for action for a film like this for sure. Bacause I am sure subconsciously it’s like my same smoking film. A smoker smoking will somewhere think 11 minutes, similarly here if I am littering, I will in my sub-conscious mind somewhere think that I have offended the Goddess of Wealth – that’s more than enough. That’s the point and that’s the exact objective. When I conceptualised the film, that was the message. So I don’t think it requires any other call for action.
Adgully: Where did you get the funding from to make the film?
AB: Anil Murarka, a philanthropist, came on board, who liked the concept and funded the production. All the stars came on board pro-bono.
Adgully: Apart from the digital platform, where all will this film be visible?
AB: We don’t have the money to put it anywhere else. We didn’t even have the money to put this film together in the first place. If you see, we looked at three segments of the society – from a paanwala to a corporate executive to a chawl lady. So that was the intention. The film is meant for everybody. And digital is going crazy. So I think the reach of this film will only, without us doing anything, we don’t have the budgets you see and today there are at least 100 pirated versions of this film which is online. I was just checking on Facebook, there have been some versions of the film which have 6-7 lakh views already. So people are downloading it, they are putting it across. They are liking and loving it and I think the truth of pudding lies in the fact that the film is been watched by people. So I don’t think YouTube is the only measure, because there are so many people downloading it and sharing with their friends. We didn’t upload the film on Facebook till today. There were at least some 50 people and communities and agencies who have downloaded it and put the film on Facebook. We had to put the film on Facebook today, obviously from our end as well. So people are already doing it.
Adgully: What is your revenue strategy?
AB: As I said, our core business is television, ideation and consultancy. We have done this for the love of the nation, love of causes and also to help us identify and make a mark among the clients in advertising. We are in media, we are well-known and established as we have worked with every channel and with Bollywood as well. In the last few days, we have got multiple briefs from the Government. And especially after Prime Minister tweeted the film, which really worked in our favour because it very rare that Prime Minister supports a film and also that film which is not being initiated by his ministry, which I think, at least for us is the icing on the cake. We have met over 100 personalities from Bollywood, television, sports have tweeted the film. All of these have happened organically. And I think we are lucky and blessed and that shows the power of idea and Bachchan Sahab’s tweet in which he stated about the ‘creative brilliance’ stunned me, which itself is a great compliment.