Vinci Raj’s journey from Cannes to nowhere to Cannes againAthira Nair
Most of us have friends who drink much more than a couple of drinks and get behind the wheel. In such times, we tell them to inform us when they get home; however, both often forget to follow-up. While you are both safe 99 per cent of the time, there is that one per cent which could decide the course of the rest of your life.
If ever something happens to a friend who left you after a party drunk, how will you feel? There is no punishment, but guilt. What we need is a behavioural change, which can be brought about only with a hard-hitting message. This is the idea that led Vinci Raj, an advertising professional, to make the short film ‘Guilt’, which is now competing at Cannes Film Festival in public service ad (PSA) category. This is not his first outing at Cannes. In 2010, he won Cannes Silver in Outdoor category and Bronze in Print category for a PSA campaign – ‘ Talk them dead’ – done for the Bangalore Traffic Police.
Written and directed by Vinci and co-directed by Mridul Nair, the three-minute long film stars Kannada actors Harish Raj and Neha Saxena, and Manoj Kumar Khatoi (cinematographer for the national-award winning movie Duronto). The actors did the film free of cost as it was for a social cause. Movie producer and director VK Prakash produced the short film under his banner Trends Pictures.
The story is told from the dead person’s point of view – and for a reason. “In three minutes, you have to convey a message by keeping it real. There was no trolley, only a handheld camera. Colour correction was minimal too, so people can relate to it,” says Vinci. The script needed the film to be shot without dialogues, with just background music so that there will be no language barrier and more people will be able to connect to it.
A story of his own
Chennai-based Vinci did MBA after pursuing BCA, but knew his heart was in creative work. He went on to do Masters in Visual Communication from Loyola College in Chennai, which has produced stalwarts like actors Vishal, Jayam Ravi, and cameraman Arvind Krishna. He worked in Singapore with NGOs for a year, but returned to India wanting to do something creative. He started working in smaller ad agencies, before ending up in Ogilvy and Mather. It was at the time that his first foray into Cannes happened.
Vinci moved to FCBULKA as Senior Creative Director in 2014. About nine months ago, Vinci had a car accident while travelling from Bengaluru to Manipal. He was hospitalised for about a month, and lost memory partially. Vinci still has trouble remembering names and reading/writing. Does all this affect his work? “I was at zero, yet I am alive and confident, every day is a bonus. The best thing about losing your memory is that you forget the bad things too,” Vinci smiles. Vinci is married to Shantha Shashidharan, and has a five-year-old daughter Mona Lisa.
Vinci’s acclaimed works include ‘Bounce Back’ print campaign featuring Steve Jobs, Malala Yousafzai, and Mahatma Gandhi in 2014. He has also done a no-smoking ad for HCG hospital. More recently, he was in news for designing the widely acclaimed poster of the upcoming Rajnikanth-starrer Kabaali.
Getting a message across
Mridul, who has known Vinci for years, wanted to collaborate with this film for the message. “When Vinci narrated the story, I related to it because I have a lot of friends who drink and drive. Instead of taking a cab, they tend to think ‘I can do it’ once they are drunk,” says Mridul. Making a change was the goal. There was no client at the time. But the reach was magnificent. “Communicating without saying anything at all is more powerful. We used actors instead of models for the same reason,” adds Mridul. Ranjit Meleppat’s music and editing by Babu Ratnam’s adds the realistic touch.
At the end of Guilt, the audience walks away with a message they cannot forget easily. You may not be the only person driving under the influence of alcohol, and not everyone will be in danger. But there’s always the off chance that you could be the one who gets in danger. The short film ends urging you to ‘be a responsible friend’. Because getting a cab for a friend who is drunk might just save you a lifetime of guilt.