By Diwakaran Raghunathan
“#Aarambham Okka Aduguthone”, was the tag line that ZEE Telugu decided for their Brand Refresh and Logo Change. This also marked the launch of ZEE Telugu HD and ZEE Cinemalu HD from this New Year.
As they roped in Actress Samantha, the new daughter-in-law of Akkineni Nagarjuna’s family, as the brand Ambassador for their Brand Refresh, ZEE Telugu wanted to have a couple of creative brand films to reach its target audience in both Urban and Rural areas of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
I thank ZEE Telugu for trusting me and signing me to produce and direct the Brand films for them. It has been a long time association for me with Zee Telugu,as I also shot the event way back when they did a brand refresh and logo change couple of years before.
Lot of Brain Storming sessions followed with the creative team of Zee Telugu as of how to take this brand films forward. The Channel wanted to have Ms.Samantha as celebrities Brand Ambassador in the film as she would be aptly connect with the target audience. Now, The challenge was to complete the film in a short duration as the channel wanted to announce it as early as possible and also make the content to connect emotionally and convey the script.
I bounced the concept of a “Mother taking that one step towards a giant leap for her daughter”. This is a film where a mother from a middle class family background takes that initiative to take her young daughter to dine in a Star hotel and show her the other side of the world filled with riches and ambience.However, being the first time Star hotel visit for both mother and daughter, they were stressed by the atmosphere, wherein Ms.Samantha comes to the support and takes the situation to ease the mother and thanks her for being a great mother. ZEE was impressed with the concept and the creative was done.
The creative team at ZEE came up with the second concept of Ms. Samantha taking that one step to make it possible for a lonely grandma who is missing her grandchild staying away from her to communicate in English as it has been a dream for the old lady to talk to her grandson for years. Ms.Samantha who is in a village shooting , connects with a old lady who is the owner of a huge village house they are shooting. Impressed by the ambiance of the house Samantha strikes a conversation with the old lady and over a coffee Samantha realize that loneliness and communication in English is keeping the old lady aloof in spite of she equipped with all the technology like laptop with camera and mobile phone. Samantha takes that cute step of teaching her the Basic English so that she can speak to her grandson the next time in a video chat. The dream comes true, as the old lady impresses her grandson with her Basic English and thanks Samantha for what it means to her.
The most challenging part was the execution and production as there were only two days given to complete both the brand films. And both the films were to be cut for 3 durations, 3 to 4 mins plus 120 seconds and 60 seconds. This was gonna be a marathon of a shoot and we wanted the preproduction plans to be perfect so that it is executed in a perfect way as we could not afford one more day of shoot.
Knowing Ms.Samantha and her professionalism we had to be perfect with our preproduction plans as Samantha is one artist I have seen in recent times who is so dedicated and so perfect in her job. She is there on dot for the call time given and never leaves the set until she completes her portion. She takes her lines and the feel of her character and lives in her character till the time she finishes. Explaining the concept to her she was so thrilled and it was absolutely a treat to direct a artist like Samantha where u only get the best of the performance and as a creator my dream come true.
The other lead artist auditions were done in 2 days exactly and it was a day and night recce for us to lock the locations. Getting a Star hotel for shooting is another stress that we were going through as my production team were running around whole of Hyderabad to lock a star hotel as all the hotels were getting ready for the new year and did not want to give it for shootings till the new year celebrations were over. Luckily we got one finally and with conditions that we finish the shoot at 6 and only 3 hours shoot allowed at the restaurant as they had some foreign guests at that time.
We had a slightly relaxed shoot the next day for the second concept,thanks to RFC (Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad).
Thanks to my team as they worked 24×7 to achieve this and taking in loads of stress.
“NO COMPROMISE” is the only line that me and my team know when it comes to filming and production. The production value was high in every aspect and this marathon shoot and postproduction was done and delivered exactly in a span of fifteen days. Every one loved the film and I thank my entire team for being there all the time with me to achieve this with the highest standards.
I humbly thank Zee Telugu and the entire team at Zee for all the support and trust they have in my production and me.
Diwakaran Raghunathan– the Director and Producer of the Zee Telugu’s brand film “Aarambham Okka Aduguthone”, is an ace Director of Photography (DoP) and talented creator with an impeccable lighting sense. He is the man behind the Ligting of almost all Reality shows in India and International Indian award properties.