An NRI girl falls in love with an NRI boy. The girl’s father objects and brings the girl back to India to get her married off to a boy of his choice. The boy follows her and wins her father’s heart. The boy and girl marry and walk off into the sunset. The end.
An AIR reporter, while on duty, falls in love with a girl. Later, he discovers she is a terrorist and in Delhi to do a big terrorist act. In an attempt to stop her, they get blown to pieces together. The end.
The first is a clichйd, ‘seen-that, heard-before’ love story idea that has been made in Bollywood many times over. The second seems a more interesting plot and was actually made when terrorism was a current topic. Both, were made by well-known filmmakers, both had good music and a good star cast.
The first, ‘Dilwale Dulhania Lejayenge’ (DDLJ), became a super hit- running in a cinema hall in Mumbai for more than 10 years. The second, ‘Dil Se’, failed at the box office. And the difference was in their execution. ‘DDLJ’ was a tightly crafted film-with characters well etched and a simple story simply told; ‘Dil Se’ ended up being just a string of excellently shot sequences. Mani Ratnam, the maker of Dil Se, just did not tell the story well.
In this season when we are celebrating ideas, let’s bring into on the craftsmanship too that went into their creation. No idea is worth its measure until it is executed. And execution lies in the details. There is a category of ‘craftsmanship’ but we must recognize that it underlies all the great ideas being awarded and celebrated at the show. If the execution was not as good as it turned out to be- they could have all ended up being ‘Dil Se’s rather than metal winners.
On reflection this needs to be recognized in the creation process. In advertising, production is often seen to be the tail-end of the process of advertising creation- a necessary evil that has to be done to get material to the media for release. Honestly many clients see it that way! While strategy and creative ideas go through an iterative, experimenting process, final production rarely does. The film or radio producer and the photographer is often expected to get things right, the first time- and this too within tight budgets and schedules- mostly determined by release dates rather than reasonable time for implementation- and is expected to work within fixed budgets. This results in often short cuts to the detriment of the idea.
In fact, my experience shows that the best work is often created by the great partnership and chemistry between the ideators and the executors. This seemingly ‘personal connection’ is as important as show reels, past work, costs and deadlines. Execution in our business is creative and not a mechanical process as in a factory.
It’s important to remind our clients that the consumer neither see the strategy nor the idea but the final execution. Hence, it is important that the people bringing the idea to life- the film maker or photographer or anyone else- need to be given time, space and money to do their best. Stories about what it took to make a great film or an outstanding press ad could help to bring to people’s attention what goes into making a real great work.
The power and beauty of Michelangelo’s nine scenes from the Genesis on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling comes from not only the idea but also from the painstaking craftsmanship of each detail of the scenes. The colors, the contours and the proportions make the frescoes breathe taking. While the idea took its time to come; the execution was as time consuming- getting the idea down for people to see took four years!
Something worth thinking about.