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Mumbai Police’s Dussehra ad: Schbang and Raavan come together to make a PSA

Schbang's ad for Mumbai Police that features Raavan is a topical reminder to wear helmets.

By  Aashrey BaligaOct 5, 2022 2:30 PM
Mumbai Police’s Dussehra ad: Schbang and Raavan come together to make a PSA
Schbang has released a public service ad (PSA) for Mumbai Police and Mumbai Traffic Police to help spread awareness on the importance of helmets and road safety.

The great Indian advertising festival is here. While advertising agencies are busy writing tear-jerkers and emotion-packed scripts, digital marketing agency Schbang is cracking topical communication pieces with an important message. The agency has released a public service ad (PSA) for Mumbai Police and Mumbai Traffic Police to help spread awareness on the importance of helmets and road safety.

The film opens with a man dressed as Raavan, with his ten heads in all his suave and glory, riding a bike around the streets of Mumbai. He comes to a stop at a traffic light where he sees a man without a helmet on a scooter beside him. Raavan notices the helmet hanging at the back of this man’s scooter. He looks at the man and tells him to put on his helmet using just his eye movements and facial expressions. The man also uses eye gestures to tell Raavan he doesn’t want to wear the helmet. On interpreting this, Raavan points using his eyes, again, at the rest of his heads on either side. After not understanding what he wants to convey, Raavan breaks his silence and tells the man on the scooter that he has ten heads but the man only has one. The ad ends with the message, ‘You only have one head. Wear a helmet.’

Storyboard18 spoke to Schbang to understand the making of the film.

The idea

Pranav Krishnan, head - culture and communications, Schbang, tells Storyboard18, that they came up with the brief and decided to pitch it to the Mumbai Police team directly because the city's police department is known to add humour and wit to their PSAs. The Commissioner of Police Vivek Phansalkar was impressed with their approach.

Mohammed Sadriwala, creative lead, Schbang, explains how they went about the pitch. “There’s this saying that when you explain something to someone humorously it is easier to understand and has more impact. That is exactly what happened when we visited the office of the Joint Commissioner with our pitch,” he says. Sadriwala is the one who conceptualised and wrote some parts of the ad film.

Talking about why they chose to use Raavan as their central character, Sadriwala says, “Dussehra is not just a festival where good overcomes evil. It is also a festival where good habits overcome bad habits. How can we get rid of bad habits? By developing good habits. That’s what we have tried to achieve in this ad. Not wearing your helmet even though it’s hanging right next to you. Take it out at the last minute if you see a traffic cop standing ahead. That may work but life is uncertain. You cannot predict what may happen next.”

“The ad will be seen not only pan India but also globally. Hence, while the ad is shot in Mumbai, it is aimed at people all over the world emphasizing the use of helmets,” He adds.

The on-location story

The ad was entirely shot in Mumbai in three locations. The interiors were shot in a building at CP Tank in South Mumbai. The traffic light sequence was shot at Sir Pochkhanawala Road, opposite the police station at Worli. Some other bits of the ad were shot at Charni Road too. Charni Road wasn’t one of the pre-decided shoot locations. It was suggested by a commoner to the team during their shoot. They liked the suggestion because that also meant they could get a nice shot with a local train in the background to capture the spirit of Mumbai.

Schbang decided to pitch it to the Mumbai Police team directly because the city's police department is known to add humour and wit to their PSAs.

“We weren’t allowed to shoot near the Victorian buildings in South Mumbai which would help capture the essence of Mumbai and make it instantly recognisable. That’s why we added the shot involving the local train at Charni Road to establish the location,” shares Sadriwala.

The only requirement that both the Mumbai Police and Traffic Police had mentioned was to not disrupt the flow of traffic. The shooting schedule was planned accordingly to avoid the peak hour rush. A small team of 10 to 12 people were present on the day of the shoot and it began at 5 am. However, subtlety isn’t one of Raavan’s strong suits. All the curious cats were out to see Raavan in all his glory with his many heads roaming the streets of Mumbai, says Krishan.

“School buses too were frequently passing by. All the kids were excited to see Raavan with ten heads from the windows and were shouting his name,” he adds.

Creative lessons from the campaign

There is one important creative learning that Sadriwala picked up from this project. He elaborates, “You have to think on your feet. You have to be spontaneous with your decisions when you’re in a hectic environment like a shoot set. When we weren’t allowed to shoot near the old buildings in Fort, we immediately acted on the commoner’s suggestion of going to Charni Road and capturing the local train in the background. It turned out to be a great shot.”

PSAs are normally perceived to be boring and monotonous. Schbang’s piece manages to hold viewers’ attention while delivering an impactful message. Road safety and wearing helmets should be taken seriously and followed rigorously. Dear readers, remember, you have only one head, wear a helmet!

Also, happy Dussehra!

First Published on Oct 5, 2022 1:30 PM