Three young friends come up with 69mm, a music video with a message

The story of how the music video 69mm got made is as formulaic as a film script. There is friendship (the do-anything-for-your-friend variety), there is disappointment and frustration, there is suspense and there is a nail-biting climax and ends with a happily ever after.

The people behind the music video 69mm are Nimal V.V., Rahul V. Raju and Rameez Salim. They are college mates who studied engineering at Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT). Engineering, however, is not up Nimal’s street, he says, but the alchemy of music—of mixing notes, of tunes and making music attracts him.

So much so that after completing his engineering, Nimal took off to Chennai to pursue a course in sound engineering at the School of Audio Engineering. It is there that he met the person who was to become a muse, of sorts, who inspired 69mm.

Halfway during the chat, the trio asks if I know what 69 mm signifies. Did you know that 69mm is the length of a cigarette aka the cancer stick? Coming back to the muse, Kessi, a South African national. “Although he was older and he was a friend, he was also a chain smoker,” Nimal says.

The course done, Nimal moved to Bengaluru for a job. That was when he found out that Kessi had ‘some smoking induced disease’ and how the diagnosis shattered Kessi.

Kessi’s condition crystallized a desire to do something ‘anti-smoking’. Nimal quit his job and came home, to Perumbavoor, with a dream and a desire. The dream was, of course, becoming a music director.

The music video was made at an extremely difficult time for Nimal. It was a time when he was clueless about where he was headed. He pitched his anti-smoking idea to people in the music industry. Only that there were no takers. “It wasn’t a saleable commodity. Anything on love or friendship sells, but nobody wants a social message,” Rahul says. That is when the buddies decided to go Dutch or “whatever it took” and make the music video. Rahul, at the time, was working with an IT firm and Rameez was all set to join Channel V.

“A car, two cameras and a tripod and the three of us…that’s how the video was made. We haven’t paid any money to friends who collaborated,” Rameez says. The edgy and slick video has a club feel and rather ominously drives home the ‘don’t smoke’ message. Since they didn’t want to spend any more money than they had to, Nimal acted besides singing in the video. However they know that they have spent close to Rs. 50, 000 on the video. It was all down to friendship. The location was a friend’s cafe, the camera (a basic Nikon DSLR) was Rahul’s and he was the camera person, Rameez was the director of photography, Nimal wrote the lyrics, composed the music and sang, another friend did the editing…the roster of collaborators includes Vinish Raj, Amal Ayyappan, Aju Sam, Rahul.K.Shaji and Krishna Raj.

The shoot took a couple of days to complete and it was easy compared to editing and uploading the video on YouTube. After editing they lost the edited version and were left with the raw copy. A week’s work gone waste. “We decided to call it quits. And then changed our minds and redid the editing,” Rameez says.

Nimal, Rahul and Rameez form the core Team 69 as they call themselves. They have decided (when they come together) to make music videos with social messages.

Nimal is in talks to compose music for a film, Rahul and Rameez too have freelance projects that keep them busy in the meanwhile.