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On location Prakash Varma during the shoot of the films in Cape Town
On location Prakash Varma during the shoot of the films in Cape Town

Ad filmmaker Prakash Varma talks about the making of Vodafone’s Zoozoos

While the IPL matches break and make fortunes and careers, Zoozoos have bowled over viewers with their simple but catchy storylines. For those who tuned in late, Zoozoos are characters created by Bangalore-based adman Prakash Varma’s production house Nirvana Films.

A master stroke by Prakash and his team, Zoozoos, alien-like characters with bulbous heads and stick-like hands and legs, were created to highlight the multiple features of Vodafone’s value-added services.

Says Prakash, who directed the commercials: “It was a challenge; we had to come up with 30 films in a month’s time to utilise the platform of the IPL matches to advertise our client’s product. Time was a crucial factor. So, we decided to come up with something totally new.”

It was then that Rajiv Rao, creative director, came up with the concept of Zoozoos. Giving it the green signal, Prakash began sketching the characters, while Rajiv got working on the remaining scripts. “We developed two kinds of characters. One comprised the rounded ones that were eventually used, while the others were more elongated. Rajiv came up with the name Zoozoos, and that was it,” explains Prakash, who went to great lengths to keep the project under wraps. “Only after the concept was developed did we even show it to our clients,” he adds.

Rage in cyberworld

As soon as the storyboards were done, the team flew to Cape Town, where all the films were shot. The making of the characters have become the rage in cyberworld, with photographs and detailed explanations of how the characters, played by real people, were made to look like animated characters. “Despite the tight schedule, we had to work a great deal on the costumes and the look, moves and expressions of the characters. For instance, the body suits had to be made of a material that did not show creases when they moved. So, we opted for a thicker material. Even the backdrops and the locations had to be worked on for the ‘live look’ we wanted.

“We have a great working relationship with Platypus, and they hired some of the best professionals in the industry, on this project. The 30 films were shot in 10 days by cinematographer Vicky Turpin,” says Prakash. He adds that online, the ad is right on top of the list of the ‘10 best ads in the world’.

Quite an achievement for a filmmaker, who was born and brought up in Alappuzha. After his graduation, he worked as assistant to film directors Lohitadas and Viji Thampy. Eventually, he joined the ad world as an assistant of Bangalore-based V.K. Prakash, an ad filmmaker who has made a mark as a director (think “Moonamathoral” and “Freaky Chakra”).

Prakash proved himself with the popular music video of Adnan Sami’s ‘Bheegi bheegi raaton mein....’ In 2001, Prakash and his wife Sneha set up a production house — Nirvana in Bangalore.

His works include ads for Titan, Hyundai Santro, Chevrolet Optra, Frooty, Titan, Lee jeans and Ponds.

Is a feature film in the pipeline? “Very much,” he laughs. “But, as of now, it would be difficult to say when,” he adds. Watch this space.





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