MTV Inside Story: Seriously Speaking #Humour

I’ve usually been bad with direction in my life (which would explain what I’m doing at MTV :p). But a few days ago, I got the chance to turn director for a short promo that needed to be shot. It was less to do with my prodigious and multi-faceted talent that I had to don the director’s hat, and more to do with the fact that the promo idea had come to us at the very last minute (you cannot time creativity, you know). Also, we are perennially short of funds so it’s always a bonus if the writer can direct, if the director can edit, if the editor can sweep, if the sweeper can play guard, etc.

The promo that was to be shot had to be a ‘viral’ video. A serious and inspirational video that would be so brilliant that it would go ‘viral’ on the internet. That was a pretty clear brief, except there were two big chinks in the extremely thin armour we were equipped with:

a) I had to shoot a ‘serious’ video: The most serious I have been in my life so far was when I said ‘I love you’ to a girl, and she replied ‘No’, and

b) ‘I’ had to shoot a serious video: The only thing I have shot so far in my life is two and a half million photos of my feet, when I was trying to figure out what it is that girls like in photos of feet.

Yup, it is safe to say, that this video was doomed from the very second it was conceptualised. On top of that, I had to go with a crew to a crowded public place and take ‘bytes’ from people that would be ‘serious’ and ‘inspirational’, and that would ensure the video goes viral on the internet. It was a tough job, no doubt, but as they say, when the going gets tough… the tough still give it a shot because their salary depends on it.

So I went to the crowded location, and took along me a friend who had directed documentaries in college (he even acted as a eunuch in one… don’t know why but I had to mention that). The task was cut out – we had to make people say what we wanted them to say, anyhow.

This is what happened: we came to realise that there are two types of people in any crowd. Those who’ve seen MTV and those who, you know, have more important things to do in their lives (losers!). And as luck would have it, we faced a problem with both types.

The following is an example conversation with a person who HAD watched MTV:

Me: Excuse me, would you like to give a byte on this serious topic for a minute?

Person (on seeing the MTV logo on my mike): You are from MTV?

Me: Uhh… clearly.

Person: Then why do you want to talk on the serious topic?

Me: Err… we are starting a new campaign on this serious topic.

Person (trying to do the math in his head for a minute): Wait, is this a bakra?! Are you making a bakra out of me!?

Me: No… as you can see, I’m not as good looking as Cyrus Broacha.

Person: Haha! Is that the bakra then? Good one good one! Oh wait, will I still be on TV now that I figured it out? Oh s**t! You should have told me before man!

Me: Umm…

The following is an example conversation with a person who HADN’T watched MTV:

Me: Excuse me, would you like to give a byte on this serious topic for a minute?

Person (on seeing the MTV logo on my mike): You are from MTV?

Me: Uhh… clearly.

Person: Then why do you want to talk on the serious topic?

Me: Err… we are starting a new campaign on this serious topic.

Person (trying to do the math in his head for a minute): Wait, is this a bakra?! Are you making a bakra out of me!? (suddenly has a flash) Oh wait! ARE YOU CYRUS BROACHA?

Me: (bangs head on mike) Yes, yes I am.

After this happened with at least 34 other people, me and my friend realised we had to improvise to overcome these stereotypes, or we’d be sc**wed! More importantly, ‘I’ would be sc**wed! And then, we played our masterstroke: We waited till dark, you know, so no one would recognise… our crew (because our crew of Shanta bhai and Mushtaq bhai were more famous than I or my friend are).

And then, to top it all, I and removed from the mike, the attachable box that had MTV written on it. And that’s it! It worked like magic! All we had to do then was, go to anyone and say, ‘Excuse me, we are from Network 18. Would you like to be on TV?’ Shanta bhai also taught us: if you select one person from the crowd like he/she looks REALLY important, the others will feel left out, wonder what the fuss is, and stand in line so they can also feel really important.

In the end, we got 15 bytes, some of which were impassioned speeches from people who were made to feel that they could achieve glory by our repeated use of the word ‘TV’ in front of them. I’m yet to sit in the edit studio and make a viral video, but I’m worried that exercise may be doomed too because:

a)      I have to edit a ‘serious’ video and

b)      ‘I’ have to edit a serious video….

 

Note: This column first appeared in MTV Noise Factory in May, 2011

Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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