V.A. Shrikumar, who directed Amitabh Bachchan and Manju Warrier for an advertisement, is on cloud nine

It is a comeback that the entertainment industry cannot stop talking about – Manju Warrier facing the camera once again and that too with the mega star Amitabh Bachchan. The television ad for Kalyan Jewellers featuring the pair premiered on Wednesday (July 31) evening on YouTube, perhaps, the first such instance in the history of the Indian advertisement industry. And basking in the moment is V.A. Shrikumar, who scripted and directed the commercial in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada.

“On the one hand, you have the legend of Indian cinema, Amitabh Bachchan. Then there is Manju Warrier, a phenomenal actress. It was delight to work with them. It was our sixth ad with Bachchan for Kalyan and we wanted somebody on an equal footing with him to share the screen. Manju’s name popped up soon after she returned to the dance stage. We approached her to try our luck and, to our surprise, she agreed to do it,” says Shrikumar, managing director and chief executive officer of his creative agency, Push Integrated Communications.

Gushing about Manju, Shrikumar adds: “Although she has done only 20 films and has been away from the arc lights for the last 14 years, Malayalis have been waiting for her to appear before the camera again. And the reception she has got is incredible. Manju Warrier is special not just because of her beauty, but also because of her sheer talent and charisma.” After the shoot, Bachchan had posted on his blog: “Working today for Kalyan Jewellers ad campaign with the sons of three legends of the South Film Industry and a superstar from Malayalam, Manju Warrier. She had left films at her peak some 15 years ago and came back just because she wanted to be in this ad.”

In the Malayalam version of the commercial, Bachchan and Manju play father and daughter. The two-minute commercial is about a daughter who marries against her father’s wishes. But, when she goes into labour, the first person she calls for help is her father. “This is part of our ad series based on the tagline, ‘Viswasam athalle ellam’,” Shrikumar says. The storyline has been tweaked a bit in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada, as it is told from the son’s point of view. Big B plays father to Nagarjuna in the Telugu version, Prabhu in the Tamil one and Sivaraj Kumar in Kannada. Manju plays the daughter-in-law in these three versions.

The ads, shot in Mumbai, had production design by Sabu Cyril. K.U. Mohanan, cinematographer of films such as Talaash, Don, Miss Lovely and others, has shot the ads.

Shrikumar had earlier shot ads with Aishwarya Rai and Sushmita Sen, Mohanlal and a host of South Indian actors.