Bapu Ki Awaaz reverberates even today, BYJU’S new film shows how
‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever’ – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Bapu, as he was lovingly called, not just led the fight for India’s Independence from British rule in a non-violent way, but also taught us the ideals of simple living and high thinking by practicing what he preached. There are so many things that one can learn from Bapu’s teachings but one special which he always believed in was that the act of forgiveness is a virtue of the strong.
To commemorate Gandhiji’s 152nd birth anniversary, BYJU’S, released ‘Bapu Ki Awaaz’, a special film that celebrates the Mahatma’s thoughts and ideals. Featuring veteran actor Padma Shri awardee Manoj Kumar, this film celebrates four real-life heroes who have gone above and beyond to carry forward the legacy and philosophy left behind by Mahatma Gandhi in their everyday lives. Invoking a deep sense of nostalgia, this film also marks Manoj Kumar’s return to the screen after 25 years as a doting grandfather who brings to life the virtues of his “favourite hero”, Bapu, by celebrating the exceptional people who walk among us today.
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Conceptualised by BYJU’S in-house team, ‘Bapu Ki Awaaz’ digital film celebrates the inspiring stories of extraordinary Indians who have brought about impactful change in the lives of others by following in Bapu’s footsteps and imbibing his ideals, values and principles. It showcases the exemplary work done by four real-life heroes – Dr Sapan Kumar Patralekh, headmaster of a school in Jharkhand who converted roadside clay walls into blackboards to continue teaching students during the pandemic; Dr Ganesh Rakh, a doctor with a mission to save girl children; Padma Shri Jamuna Tudu, who fought the jungle mafia to safeguard over 100+ acres of forests; and Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar awardee Kameshwar Waghmare, a 14-year old who saved two kids from drowning. These individuals and their persistence proved time and again that we can create a better world for everyone to live in.
In an exclusive interaction with Adgully, Vineet Singh, VP - Brand and Creative Strategy, BYJU’S, takes us through the making of the digital film, the onjective, the engagement strategy, convincing veteran actor Manoj Kumar to return to the screen after a gap of 25 years and much more.
What is the core concept of the special digital film on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti? What does it aim to showcase?
The core concept behind this film was to celebrate the real life heroes who have gone above and beyond to bring a change in the society and being selfless in their approach. As Bapu has taught us to be selfless and to put other people before ourselves, the concept was similar to the teachings of Bapu. We wanted to come out and showcase that his teachings are still relevant today and are lived as an example.
Could you take us through the conceptualisation of the film as well as the core content of the film?
BJYU’s team did an extensive research in the past few months to find these fascinating stories of Dr Sapan Kumar Patralekh, headmaster of a school in Jharkhand who converted roadside clay walls into blackboards to continue teaching students during the pandemic; Padma Shri Jamuna Tudu, who fought the jungle mafia to safeguard over 100+ acres of forests; and Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar awardee Kameshwar Waghmare, a 14-year old who saved two kids from drowning. Dr Ganesh Rakh, a doctor with a mission to save girl children and the one who showed us a lot of selfless deeds and attitude of giving towards the society. We wanted someone to come out positive and play a Suthradhaar for this film, which we found in Padma Shree Manoj Kumar ji. Once all this was figured out, we put everything together as a storyline. Each visual in the film speaks about something that is deep, something that is the truth many of us are facing and narrates the story of what these people have done and how they have impacted the teachings of Gandhi forward. The entire conceptualisation was based on highlighting that there are people across India who still follow and are taking Gandhi’s teachings forward.
Which agency worked on the film? Did they come up with the core idea or was it worked out in BYJU’S internal team?
The core idea was proudly BYJU’s internal team’s and the concept was of the brand and strategy team at BYJU’S. We didn’t work with an agency, but worked directly with a production house named Dora Digs. It was an amazing experience while shooting for the film.
Bringing on board Manoj Kumar is a good move since he has done several films with patriotic overtones. But how did you convince him to be a part of this film as he is not very active nowadays?
Manoj Kumar sir was included not only because he did patriotic films in the past. His films always had a positive thought and enlightening messages, which we wanted to get out to the audiences through him and that was one of the reasons why we wanted him to be a Suthradhaar of this film. Applying the Gandhian thought is not just about being patriotic, but it is about humanity in general and to apply it in our lives by giving a lot more hope. It did take some time to convince him of this as our team gave him details about the script and the film which helped us to change a few very important things suggested by Manoj ji. I am guessing that he must have liked the script and he got ready to do something 25 years down the line. He did tell BYJU’s team that he enjoyed the script a lot.
This sure is moment marketing with a cause, but how are you marrying the film’s concept with BYJU’S vision?
Yes, it is moment marketing with a cause. We wanted to celebrate Bapu in a way that has never been celebrated in the country before and that is what we wanted to go out and do from a brand’s perspective. At BYJU’s, we have a vision of creating love for learning and education across the country irrespective of where and which region you are from. We want education to reach to every corner of our country and that marries the vision of what Bapu had about getting people to learn more, to get educated as well as to work across the development of the country.
What’s going to be your engagement strategy with your audience and how do you plan to give the maximum exposure to this film with your audience? Will this film be run only on Gandhi Jayanti or are you planning to continue the initiative?
The film has a very interesting last line that says, ‘Celebrating the Mahatma today and always’. We are releasing the film a day prior to Gandhi Jayanti and it is going to be a digital film which will be released across all our digital platforms. We would be using influencers’ approach and promoting it across our platforms letting everyone enjoy it. It is important for the youth who are spending a lot of time on digital platforms to watch this film and understand how ‘Bapu ki Awaaz’ and teachings are still alive in the country today and it is not going to be one moment of marketing, it’s going to be celebrating the Mahatma today and always.
You are honoring some great social leaders who have impacted society in many ways in the recent past through the film. How did you go about identifying these heroes and why will they be so inspiring to your audience?
The choice was difficult. As mentioned earlier, we did a lot of research and what we found was that people are doing inspirational things and are taking extreme steps to keep the hope high. These choices were made on the basis of the fact that we wanted to cover various aspects of the environment, education, especially during the pandemic and how tribal areas have suffered so much because. We also wanted to cover a mission on saving the girl child and one simple act of bravery and selflessness in saving someone’s life. These stories stood out to us because of how fascinating they were, from where they came and the amount of things they have gone through. We can call them social heroes now, but the story behind their struggles is way more, especially on what they have faced to bring these changes in the society. There would have been a lot of push back that these heroes have faced in many years of their lives and to be able to get recognised as social heroes we call them. A humble choice was made because we had an amazing list of people and the difficulties they faced to build what they built now.
Which part of the digital film interests you the most and why?
It is strange to choose one aspect of your beautiful piece of work. According to me, all the four stories have their own collective value, which are very different and all are doing something different, something massive for the world. I also love the fact that Manoj sir made a sort of comeback after 25 years with us and it is a big thing for BYJU’s that he worked with us to make a comeback on screen. The whole film is very dear to my heart is what I would like to say.