For their India launch, History channel had roped in Bollywood Bigg Boss Salman Khan to film their promotional ads. The idea of the campaign was to communicate ‘kuch naya dekho’ (see something new) and the ad films were shot in France, near the city of Nice.
About the concept
Created by McCann Erickson, History channel decided to unveil their new campaign online first, which was to be followed by TV. In the advertisement, Salman Khan challenges people’s perception of ‘achievement’ and ‘newness’.
To make the ‘History’ subject more interesting (to Indians), the campaign uses words like ‘Watch History being made’, ‘Kuch Naya Dekho’ and ‘History Bante Dekho’. The factual entertainment genre had been quite inert in India for some time, and to make it more interesting, the channel also had to rope in salman Khan.
The television commercial was released in three versions – ‘Mountains’, ‘Swamp’ and ‘Samurai’ – which were shot in southern France, urges the audience to push the envelope, go beyond the regular, and watch something new.
Bollywood hunk Salman Khan is seen talking to a samurai warrior in a Japanese bamboo enclave, chatting to a tired rock climber on a mountain peak and relaxing with a jungle explorer on a remote river bank.
Choosing the Location
The production company did spend time looking for suitable locations in India initially, and even considered countries like Morocco, Sri Lanka and Turkey, but couldn’t find their desired location.
That’s when the production company Tubelight Films got in touch with JP Constantini who was able to find them the perfect location in France.
Prashant Issar who directed the tv spots: “Basically to find all the three different locales in one country was getting difficult. Then we got in touch with JP Constantini and credit to him for working so hard to find us everything we needed in France. Honestly I had not imagined that I would get such a diverse topography in France, so it was a pleasant surprise.”
Using Nice in France as the production base
All the commercials were filmed in south-east France, using Nice as a production base.
- An hour’s drive from Nice, Costantini and his company IFILMEUROPE found France’s biggest privately-owned bamboo garden for the samurai spot.
- A river located to the west of Nice was used for the swamp spot.
- The rock-climbing piece was filmed on two peaks in the massif Dévoluy in the French Alps, including the Pic de Bure, one of the highest.
Costantini said: “The south of France was the perfect choice [for this project], offering the right locations with the backup of the film industry from Nice.”
Do you recognize ‘Suhaas’ in the video? The investment banker who was going to marry Kareena Kapoor in the movie ‘3 Idiots’.
Though the locations were great, to film the scenes, the team had to overcome several challenges.
Filming in the swampy river environment proved tricky on a limited budget as the team had to build camera rigs onto the boats. A lot of time was spent with the crew kitted out in rubber waders in the river.
But the biggest challenge was to do the mountain shoot.
The director wanted a mountain which would look as if you were on top of the world; and more importantly it had to be accessible for the crew as well as friendly for the mountain climber to climb. The challenge was that a mountain which looks easily accessible does not feel dangerous enough, and the mountain which looks dangerous would have been difficult for the crew to access.
That’s when it was decided that filming be done on two separate mountains; one that the climber could safely scale and another with a good-looking peak where the mountaineer would meet…who else…Salman Khan of course.
Constantini states: “The client and agency wanted the film to happen in a very remote mountain area with no grass in a landscape that we could describe as a desert lunar landscape at high altitude. As I have been involved in mountain climbing, I did investigate several options and the Pic de Bure was one of them but there was a problem accessing the peak with equipment and crew.”
That is why a couple of helicopters were used to transport the crew between locations, and also to capture the relevant aerial shots of the mountaineer. Another challenge for the climber was that the temperature had dropped to around five Degrees Celsius and he had to make the climb only wearing a T-shirt for the spot’s summer setting.
So was Salman Khan in France for the shoot?
Salman Khan shoots most of his films and commercials in India (Mumbai specifically) and doesn’t travel unless absolutely required. So did he really travel to France for these shoots?
Nope! Salman Khan’s scenes were filmed separately in India in a green-screen studio, which was then edited to show as if he was actually in France to film the commercials.
Salman Khan is the brand ambassador of ‘The History Channel’ which was recently launched in India.
Client: History Channel India
Agency: McCann Erickson
Creative Director: Angshumani Khanna
Production Company: Tubelight Films
Producer: Radhika Sahaney
Production Service Company: IFILMEUROPE
Line Producer: JP Costantini
Location Manager: Pierre-Yves Parrinet
Director: Prashant Issar