If you have had watched the recently completed Indian Premier League (IPL) matches, you might have spotted an ad in which a grandpa getting a tattoo and a granny going parasailing.
Did you ever think why this couple was chosen for the ad?
For your kind information, they are Vodafone India’s latest brand ambassadors for 4G, Shanta Dhananjayan, 73, and V.P. Dhananjayan, 78. They are now famous as Asha and Bala from Vodafone’s SuperNet 4G ads. No doubt, Shanta actually went parasailing to shoot for ad film No.4. Not to mention the other crazy things they did like riding a scooter, dancing on a boat, partying with strangers. No mean feat, all this.
So far, Vodafone released six ads featuring this couple. All these ads promote the brand’s data network that affords easy video calling, photo sharing, maps, video streaming and Facebook Live. Shanta Dhananjayan and V.P. Dhananjayan are not only reel life couple, they are a real life couple. They both are Bharatnatyam dancers and Padma Bhushan Awardees (Arts). They teach dance and run a business in Chennai.
So, now the question is that how on earth they landed up on TV screens for Vodafone ads?
Dhananjayan tells, “Nirvana Films (production house) approached us to do this campaign. When I heard that Prakash Varma is directing the Vodafone ads, which are written by Ogilvy, we ventured into it.”
Their Ogilvy connection runs deep as their elder son Sanjay works for Ogilvy New York. “He didn’t know that we were being approached to act in these Vodafone commercials,” Dhananjayan said. “When they (Nirvana) explained the copy, we found it very interesting. It was not like the usual ads. These were characters we were enacting,” he added.
“When we were approached, it sounded pretty interesting and we really didn’t think this was going to end up becoming such a large scale (campaign). It turned out to be very different from what we had envisaged earlier,” Shanta quoted.
Dhananjayan says, “It all happened suddenly in two days when we landed in Goa. Once we landed, the next day onwards, we were on the go. I don’t know how to ride a scooter. I had a tutor but that didn’t work very well. Then, we came across a person who resembles me closely. He came to our rescue – a real God-sent.”
He goes on to say about the experience, “At least Shanta was wearing a saree; for me, wearing a shirt and shorts was difficult because I usually wear a veshti (dhoti) and jippa (kurta). The last time I wore a shirt and shorts was when I was a little boy. But I am open minded and wanted to experiment.”
Shanta speaking about the dancing-on-the-boat ad said, “That was quite challenging because though we are dancers, this was a different take completely. I enjoyed it. Every moment was so enjoyable and the whole unit was so engrossed in everything that was happening there. It was very hot and uncomfortable at times and we were sweating it out, but all that was worth it. Prakash (director, Nirvana) would just come and tell us, ‘This is what you have to do. Now it’s yours. You can do whatever you want.’ We had to also remember that we were not ourselves; we were playing someone else and had to be 100 percent ‘there’.”
Well, this is not the first time the couple has acted in an ad film. Earlier, Dhananjayan was seen in a Nerolac Paints ad and Shanta in Kumaran Silks ad. The duo together acted in a local ayurvedic oil ad.
When asked about the reactions these ads have fetched, the couple quoted, “It has been fantastic. We have been getting calls and emails from all over the world. People are saying we are looking cute and natural – like we normally are.”
When asked about what has the Vodafone campaign done for the couple? Dhananjayan says, “People walking on the streets have started recognizing us. They say, “We thought you are only dancers… now you are acting as well….”
“Acting is a part of Bharatnatyam. It is exaggerated acting, but for this, we need to have a natural flair,” going on to tell us that he used to act in dramas as a child and that the experience came in handy here. Shanta says, “We breathe Bharatnatyam. We have a company, we perform, travel and now in our late 70s we are trying to take it a little easy… our students, younger son, and daughter-in-law, help us with more activities,” Dhananjayan added.
What next for this couple? Will they act in movies? Here’s what they has to say: “Sure, if it is a good character that will fetch me the best actor award then definitely yes,” Dhananjayan signs off.
What do you say about this spunky couple? Have you watched the Vodafone ads of the couple? If not, go watch now. Share your views with us in the comments section below.