Conceptualised by McCann Worldgroup and produced by Nirvana Films, the digital film creates awareness about depression and the need to empathise with such people
Akansha Mihir Mota | Mumbai | October 17, 2016
Smiles can be deceptive. They camouflage scars and pain hidden inside. Someone around you may be fighting depression secretly, dying a bit every day. One can never gauge depression from appearances. Before you lose your loved ones, before they lose themselves, just ask. We must ask what’s wrong with them. You never know how much the smallest of gesture could mean to them. Depression isn’t a first world fad. It’s real and we must accept it.
A video on depression, released on October 10, 2016, World Mental Health Day, by Deepika Padukone’s The Live Laugh Love Foundation, highlights the importance of empathising with people who suffer from mental illnesses. The digital film is conceptualised by McCann Worldgroup.
According to the World Health Organisation, 100 million Indians suffer from some form of mental illness but there are only 6,500 trained psychiatrists and 22,000-25,000 mental health workers, including psychologists and counsellors.
At 36 per cent, India has recorded the highest rate of major depression in the world. The stress could be attributed to the unprecedented social and economic change the country is undergoing, which often brings depression in its wake.
This is the country’s first nationwide public awareness campaign on mental health, aiming to bring conversations around mental health into the mainstream, and inspire people to reach out to those who could be suffering from mental disorders.
Elaborating on the brief, the creative agency said, “The brief was simple. Depression is either unheard of or misunderstood in India. With 1 in 5 Indians affected by depression and only 25,000 qualified psychiatrists for a nation of 1.2 billion, this status quo had to change. It wasn’t just awareness that we had to create, we had to create empathy. Enough empathy so people paid close attention to their loved ones, to wait for an answer the next time they asked anyone how they were doing and to listen with care to their answer. We wanted people to notice each other again, to ask again, to listen again, to comfort again. Hence #DobaraPoocho was born.”
Prasoon Joshi, Chief Creative Officer India, McCann Worldgroup, said, “Dobara Poocho was born out of this need to look at someone again, to observe that someone closely again, to be aware of his or her nuances again, to hold the person close again, to ask again.”
From the concept to the implementation and narration, the digital film breaks even the talk needed around the topic and creates awareness on the issue, garnering more than 3.6 lakh views in a few days.
The print campaign showcases real people who have gone through or are going through depression, and fought the illness to become stronger and whole.
Deepika Padukone, Founder of the Foundation: The Live Love Laugh, said, "In the times we are living today, we have become so competitive, which is a good thing, but we have become extremely insensitive too.”
The real challenge
Talking about the challenges involved in the making of the digital film, the agency said, “Depression is real and the problems it poses are real. So we needed to tell stories that are real, believable and visceral. We wanted to show stories people can connect with and which move them. To do that, the film needed to be as close to real life as possible, possibly more than any ad film. That was our biggest challenge. We wanted to give the illusion of a real story taking place right in front of you, completely negating the existence of a camera.”
Lights, camera, action!
Pre-production involved getting people who looked like real fathers, sons, sisters and couples. Everything was made and chosen to be authentic and genuine. The film took one month to complete and the shooting was done in less than a week.
The agency added, “During the shoot, everyone felt that this was something special. One reason being that after every shot you could find people wiping away a solitary tear or disappearing for a few moments to recover. The actors, too, took time off after every shot to compose themselves. Even in post-production, we had many technicians stop for a while to recover from what they had just seen.”
Commenting on the production work, Vipin Dhyani, Founder and Chief Creative Director, Thoughtshop Advertising and Film Production, said, “The campaign is done beautifully in a very subtle manner. The moment you make it over the top, it won’t work. The narrative is very good. It is reading between the lines. Whatever is left behind in the film is taken care of by the narrative. The actors are very good and fresh. They have been chosen well and wise.”
Talking about the film-making, Ananda Ray, Creative Head, Rediffusion Y&R, Chennai, said, “The film has been executed to feel very real and true and is refreshingly believable. The film doesn’t seem contrived and is aided by very powerful performances. Depression and its effects have many angles and obviously one can’t address all of it in one film. Yet, this is a commendable and well-intentioned beginning towards taking this illness out of the shadows.”
Sharing his views on the film, Hemant Shringy, Executive Creative Director, BBDO, said, “I won’t necessarily comment from a filmmaking point of view because I think sometimes the subject you are speaking about is bigger than what the execution. I would like to comment on the subtleness of it. The video is too subtle. Like I can’t at this point gauge what was the interaction between the old man and the woman and what gave her a feeling that he was going through something. Probably, they were trying to say that the symptoms are subtle and one needs to be more intuitive. It’s a great initiative that we have started to speak about depression. There is a lot of education needed on the subject and this is the beginning.”
A concept worthy of applaud
Appreciating the campaign idea of ‘Dobara Puchho’, Shringy said, “We know very little about depression. We need to probe more and go deeper into the conversation and which is why ‘Dobara Puchho’ makes sense. With this concept of asking again, one can ensure that you don’t just let that person fight this difficult battle alone and at the same time you don’t assume that this person is going through depression as he is showing one symptom of depression.”
Vistasp Hodiwala, Co-Founder and CCO, Underdog, found the treatment nice. He said, “One of the things that worked is the taboo subject that the mass media has not really covered. They have undoubtedly done good work with the ad. Depression is not that simple that by talking with someone, the problem is solved. Depression at times needs to be treated clinically and medically. The good thing about the ad is that it is creating awareness about the topic.”
Dhyani said, “Deepika Padukone has herself gone through depression. It is a great initiative from her end. The campaign is based on very good insight. By sharing feelings, one releases stress. People love to show their braver side and that’s when we hide things because we feel that we can stay with this pain without telling anyone and life would go on. The idea behind the campaign is very noble. It is not a typical anti-dowry or smoking campaign. Here we are talking about the unread and unsaid rule of society where people generally don’t bother to talk about the topic.”
Ray feels the opposite regarding the concept
While Shringy appreciated the concept of the film, Ray slightly differs with the idea of ‘Dobara poocho’ that the ad film is trying to sell. He said, “I think the intended concept, as I understand it, is meant for people to ask again: ‘Dobara poocho’. I am not really getting that. What I am getting, however, is perhaps far more powerful. I am getting the notion that the signs of depression are really subtle, if at all there are signs. Also, anybody can suffer from this illness – young, old, well-to-do. That is a very important message. Depression comes with stigma and to suggest just about anyone can suffer from it can go a long way in fighting that stigma.”
He added, “The concept of ‘Dobara poocho’ didn’t go down that well with me. I know people who have gone through depression. They often hide it well and, if someone pries, they hide it better.”
Ray elaborated, “Depression is not always about cause and effect. There are many, surrounded by loving friends and family, in the prime of their health and doing well, who get depressed. To ask what is wrong and then to try and address that is armchair psychology and possibly misrepresents the illness.”
Also, one very important point Ray made was that, in the ad film, the people suffering from depression are pressed for an answer for why they’re feeling the way they are; but, very often, people suffering from depression don’t have an answer.
Elaborating on what could have been done better with the film, Ray said, “It would have been better, I feel, if the film did not end with the existing voice over. That should have provided a solution directly and clearly. It gets lost in poetry. The film has already somewhat established the effects of the illness. The end should have been about, ‘this is how you can get help’ -- it’s very important for people who don’t feel they can share their situation with anyone. ‘Dobara poocho’ might work for someone who is simply upset or sad at the time, but not necessarily with someone who has clinical depression. Which is why, the end of the film should have been very clear about help available – more message delivery than waxing poetic.”
The 40-second digital film depicts people from different walks of life at various instances. When asked again about their problems, they gradually break down, bringing out the concept of the film, ‘Dobara Poocho’.The TVC: [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ko6MaXjq6U[/youtube]
Chief Creative Officer: Prasoon Joshi
Creative Team: Pradyumna Chauhan, Puneet Kapoor, Nishant Pratap, Mahesh Kawthankar, Vikram Dhembare, Samiksha Saxena, Sheel D’souza
Strategic Planning: Suraja Kishore, Rajesh Sharma, Neerja Goswami
Account Management: Tarannum Romani, Samir Sagar
Production House: Nirvana Films