Here’s the article from Shots.net on LMN
HOTSHOT LITTLE MAN COMPLEX
08 April 2009
They say size matters, and since this week’s Hotshot sees a 12 inch man stranded at the seaside, we’re inclined to agree. The spot for new Indian soft drink LMN is all about thinking big. shots.net brings you an exclusive look at pre-production sketches and behind-the-scenes photography.
This week’s hotshot is all about scale, ambition and attention to detail. Directed by Ram Madhvani – the visionary behind Happydent Palace, Cockroaches and Mosquitoes Quit India and Himani Man-Made Machines – the spot for Indian soft drink LMN sees a tiny, dehydrated man battle past the terrors of the seaside to quench his thirst.
The creative was dreamed up by local agency Creativeland Asia. They were tasked by Indian beverage company Parle Agro with launching a new lemon drink – and had to find a way of branding the drink to make it stand out in the marketplace. As well as creating and designing the LMN look, they also had to come up with a spot that was funny and different but had mass appeal.
“While the film has strong youth undertones, strategically the commercial has to appeal to people from various social and economic backgrounds across various languages in India. A powerful visual metaphor and the humour helps us cut across languages and various socio-economic segments in a huge market like India,” explains Raj Kurup, the founder of Creativeland Asia, and creative director on the job.
The idea was a play on the fact that the human body is 80 per cent water – wouldn’t really thirsty people become 20 per cent of their usual size? “The thought of a pint-sized man running around, dragging his pants in panic, searching for LMN looked and sounded hilarious in our heads. The script happened right there,” he explains.
According to Madhvani’s producer at Equinox, Manoj Shroff, the team were keen to portray a realistic Indian beach scene. Generally speaking, beach life in India is less about bikinis and suntans and more about family picnics. “In Indian advertising we make our beaches look, unsuccessfully, like they are from Baywatch. Ram decided that a real Indian beach has an exotic, ethnic feel that is rooted in India yet can be thought whimsical and strange when looked at with a different eye,” he explains. “Fully clothed people at a beach? Imagine!”
And this realism was also an integral part of the casting. So what was Madhvani looking for in his leading man? “Someone whose breasts wouldn’t shake when he ran!” laughs Madhvani. “But jokes apart, when talking about the casting with Raj we were wondering how to give the man a sense that he did belong to the beach, We wanted the film to look real. And give the man and the other characters a feeling that they existed before the action. Raj came up with a back story. The man should look like a local tour guide.”
The team decided to shoot on a popular Mumbai beach, Juhu. Knowing it would be impossible to employ the 15,000 extras needed to capture the feeling of a busy Sunday afternoon at the beach. Instead, they headed down to the beach with a 35 mm camera hidden in a bag.
DP Pushan Kripalani and Madhvani worked in what can only be described as a ‘directorial pincer movement’. Kripalani wandered round the beach with the contraption, while Madhvani looked through a video camera pointing in the opposite direction, pretending to shoot something else. It was a technique to distract the crowd while Kripalani filmed. AD Shakun Batra then had to discreetly take measurements so that the graphics team could comp in the tiny protagonist later. They then shot for four days at a quieter beach, where they worked on more close-up shots.
It then came time to shoot the hero’s close-ups. The team had to wait 15 days between wrapping the beach shots and filming the protagonist, thanks to Madhvani’s meticulous attention to detail. He decided that a dehydrated man would weigh less than normal, so the actor went on a strict diet-and-gym regime.
One of the most challenging parts of the spot was the scene where the man is hit by a giant wave – a shot that was never originally intended to be part of the film. “The director gifted it to the producer and the production team after the budget was signed. Most people will never know the heart attacks this one caused production and producer. We actually built a tank 30 feet into the sea, 18 feet tall with a huge 500 litre iron tank on top, with a giant slide attached so that the water came gushing down in the right size and proportion to hit our 5’11” man,” explains Shroff.
In total, the spot took two months of pre-production, six days of shooting (spread over a month) and a month and a half to post produce. The post production was handled by Biju D from Fable Farm. To ensure that the film looked as realistic as possible, they decide to use as little green screen as possible.
Bringing the spot further to life is the vibrant soundtrack. It was inspired by the music of the Kohli fisherfolk of Maharashtra – Madhvani felt that it would bring just the right level of insanity to the finished film. It was scored by music director Sneha Khanwalkar and a Kohli singer.
The leading man might have been tiny, but the job was anything but. As Kurup explains, by the end of the shoot, most of the team identified with the tiny protagonist.
“Creating eight feet tall waves; making gigantic jeans, paper-cups and a toy parachute man; teaching dogs, fish and local fisherwomen to act and shooting every single thing live and putting them together over seven weeks made us lose water and shrink to the size of a 500ml bottle. But when we saw our final product, we got refreshed, flipped and grew back to our original sizes.”
Watch the hotshot here. And check out the range of preproduction models and sketches in the gallery at the side of the story.