Offbeat: Hemant Bhandari – Social crusader extraordinaire

Adgully’s special feature section – Offbeat – seeks to give a peek into the lesser known facets of our very well-known industry leaders. We present, in the industry leaders’ own words, an interesting read on areas that are not usually highlighted in regular media coverage – be it about their childhood days, secret skills that they possess, how they unwind from their hectic schedules, and much more.  

Hemant Bhandari, Co-founder & AD Director, Chrome Pictures, is a well-known ad filmmaker who has worked on campaigns for brands like Coca-Cola, Amazon, Expedia, Honda, Samsung, Dell, Philips, Nestle,  Nivea, Surf, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Whirlpool, Hitachi, Tide, HDFC, and Bru, to name a few. 

In his journey as a Director, Bhandari has worked with several well-known faces – Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni for Boost, Shah Rukh Khan for D’décor, Salman Khan for Wheel, Ranbir Kapoor for Phillips, Deepika Padukone for Coca-Cola, Anushka Sharma for Nivea, Abhishek Bachchan for Idea Internet Ullu campaign and many more. 

Bhandari has collaborated with universally known agencies like Lowe Lintas, Ogilvy & Mather, McCann, J. Walter. Thompson, Leo Burnett, Dentsu Aegis, DDB Mudra, Grey, Rediffusion Y&R, Contract, FCB Ulka, RK Swamy, Taproot Dentsu, Interface Communications, etc. 

Along with a successful business, Bhandari has maintained a dedicated social awareness agenda. He had produced the most distinguished, provocative and passionate public message in year 2011 – a film called ‘Silent National Anthem’, which won a Gold in the Goa Film Festival and a Bronze at Cannes. The film shows an incident to shock the viewers into acknowledging the helplessness of the country. He also directed a public service film based on child education for Unicef. 

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A precious childhood trait that you still possess?
Since childhood I’ve always had a trait where I have wanted to impersonate and ape certain cartoon characters. For example, I have always wanted to be Uncle Scrooge and own a pool like his, and I am still working hard towards building that pool! 

Any superhero fetish? What superhero power you wish you possessed?
I’ve always had a huge obsession with super heroes, whether it involves flying, using gadgets or just going invisible. From Batman to Harry Potter, I am a huge sucker for all fictional characters possessing super powers and extraordinary abilities. 

What is your biggest fear and how do you face it?
I fear that if we don’t take enough action to preserve our ecology, there will come a time when resources will be compromised. Something as precious as water can go completely extinct in about 30 years if we are not careful. We need to protect our environment, stop being in denial about it and do our bit for the ecology. At Chrome Pictures, we have a very strict ‘Zero Plastic’ policy and we try and incorporate this as much as possible into our work as well. To not use plastic at a film set is extremely challenging, but we try our best to keep the use of plastic down to the bare minimal. In fact, I always plant a tree after all my shoots and we try and clear all the garbage that is chucked around during an outdoor shoot. I also consume energy in a fairly conservative manner. I try to ensure using eco-friendly air conditioners. I don’t keep lights and fans on unnecessarily. I try and car pool whenever possible. I believe that we have to always face our fears head-on, and the fear of our plant being destroyed is something that I take very seriously. We need to stop brushing this uncomfortable fact under the carpet and deal with it pragmatically.

A secret that you have which no one knows about?
When I was a little boy my school teacher once told me that, “In order for a secret to remain a secret, it can’t be shared.” So I am sorry but my deepest, darkest secrets are the ones I’ll take with me to the grave. But jokes apart, I am a very straightforward person with no regrets, so frankly I have no secrets and my life has always been an open book. As you grow older, you want to simplify your life and not complicate it further, and if that means being straightforward and honest, then so be it. 

What would one find in your playlist?
I listen to all genres of music. If you have something entertaining, relaxing and at the same time upbeat, I will happily listen to it and enjoy it. 

Your go-to activity to relax?
Jogging, it really helps me relax, especially after a hectic work schedule. 

What is the greatest lesson that you have learnt from life so far?
I think life in itself is the greatest lesson and learning experience, not just for me but for any human being. The amount life can teach you can never be acquired from any educational institute or degree. Each and every experience in our lives teaches us something different each time. I will continue to learn until I cease to exist. 

A social cause that you are most passionate about?
Environment awareness and mindful living is something I will always endorse. 

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What’s the one thing you would like to change about yourself?
In my professional life I am very organised, thanks to Chrome Pictures being an extremely organised structure where all of us have to follow systems and protocol. In my personal life, however, I can be really messy and unorganised. I wish I could change that about myself. 

If you were not a Co-founder & AD Film Director at Chrome Pictures, then what would you have been?
A salesperson in a simple grocery store or a shoe shop. 

What are the three apps on your mobile that you couldn’t live without?
I hate overindulgence in technology. Honestly, I am the happiest without my phone. 

What’s the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
‘Something in the rain’ on Netflix – it’s a Korean show on love and how things in this world can be beautiful and perfect. I would highly recommend it to all you guys. Trust me, you won’t regret it. 

Which two organisations outside your own do you know the most people at and why?
As an industry, despite the competition, we are extremely close-knit. In the past whenever there has been a crisis, our contemporaries across companies have put their differences aside to stand by each other. It would be unfair on my part to give out any names, because from the junior most to the senior most individuals across the sector have at some point or the other been of some assistance to me as well as to Chrome, and for that I will always be grateful to them. 

Two things about this industry you don’t like or don’t understand?
Erratic hours and unorganised schedules. Shoots can be extremely chaotic because they involve a lot of people from the production side as well as from the agency side, and if we are shooting with a celebrity, then the number of people involved triples. When too many people are involved, there is bound to be unorganised chaos. At Chrome Pictures, we try to be as organised as possible, but despite that there are delays because of issues that are out of our control. Shoots that are scheduled to start at noon sometimes don’t start until late evening and eventually delays land up having a domino effect on every aspect of the shoot. In fact, when people join our company one thing is made clear right from the start that they need be prepared to have long working hours, especially on days when they are going to be part of a shooting assignment. Personally, I wish we could as an industry be a little more organised so that we can save time, money and resources while shooting. 

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
San Francisco and New York. I love the vibe of both these cities, the people there are organised, thorough and extremely professional. Moreover, as cities they look amazing and exude a great energy.

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