Founded in 2001, Nirvana Films is India’s most celebrated production house. Her partnership with director Prakash Varma has been creating much acclaimed and awarded films in the world of Indian advertising for the last decade. “Nirvana. The ultimate abode. A state of perfection. Where the inner eye sees the truth. And we see stories come alive”, they say.
Why did you get into advertising?
I was a student of Social Communication. Film was one of my subjects. I fell in love with film as a medium and the rest, as they say, is history!
What do you love about your job?
That i’m in ‘love’ with my job. That it is 24×7. That its high intensity, high stress. That it is all about problem solving and thinking on your feet. That it is about collaborating with amazing minds and an amalgamation of all creative streams – storytelling, art, architecture, photography, film & music, all rolled into one.
What’s the coolest project you’ve been involved in?
Creating films for Incredible India / Kerala tourism and Madhya Pradesh Tourism in India.
What was your worst job and what did you learn from it?
Very early on in our career we did something for a fairness cream brand. It didn’t leave us with a good feeling. We took a stance right then, to stay far away from things we didn’t believe in.
In percentage terms, what’s more important in advertising, the idea or the execution?
60 % idea; 40 % execution.
Is there something you don’t like (or hate) about advertising?
I dislike the fact that now, as advertisers, we take ourselves too seriously. We have lost our sense of madness and risk taking and fun. We are now ‘men in suits’ worrying about revenue and turnover and less about thinking ‘out of the box’ and experimenting and pushing boundaries of communication.
What was your biggest challenge in your life as a producer?
The big challenge is in convincing clients to take some risks. I harp on how important it is to allow room for the director to make a film that evolves as it’s being made. Not everything can be addressed and sealed and signed off on paper. There has to be an element of surprise for the film to have some magic.
What is your favorite ad ever? Why?
Thats a tough one. The one I remember most often is the Aerolíneas Argentinas film with kids, done several years ago. It was a great narrative, simple, and about basic human emotions. I love the recent Coke couple / parenting film -again from Argentina-, by Santo Buenos Aires. It’s great craft, great performances, simple everyday truths that resonate hugely and bring a smile to your heart.
What are, in your opinion, the main strengths and weaknesses of advertising in India, specially regarding craft and production matters?
Craft and production environments are great in India. We make the maximum number of films in the world. Clients and advertising agencies give most good directors a lot of room to interpret a script, value add and improvise from a craft perspective. Production can be difficult for an outsider, unless you are aware of how the systems in India work. There is definitely a semblance of order amidst all the chaos.
Have you ever been to Berlin?
This will be my first trip to Berlin. I expect it to be beautiful and vibrant. I do hope I find time to go around and experience the city on my visit.