While marketers and so called internet scientists are studying the formula to go viral on the social web, one film seems to have cracked it. Its secret to success is no secret at all. It’s the coming together of a funky script and the sexiness quotient of Sunny Leone that does the trick. And what purpose does it solve, you ask? The idea is to tell young men not to smoke, by demonstrating how smoking is indeed very injurious to health.
The anti-smoking film conceptualized by Business of Ideas, executed by Scarecrow Communications and directed by Vibhu Puri of Hawaiizaada fame, features an eclectic set of characters – Alok Nath popularly known as the Sanskaari Bapuji, Deepak Dobriyal, the memorable character Pappi ji from Tanu Weds Manu, and of course Sunny Leone.
The 4.40 minute film titled ‘No smoking #11minutes’ is set in a village where a sick man in his 30s is seen coughing away on his bed. The doctor informs a waiting family that there is no chance of recovery either through prayers or medicine; the only thing they can do for him now was to fulfil his last wish. Every member of the family then get into the act of making him happy, they bring him gifts, offer his favourite paan, and whatnot, but all that goes in vain.
His dad (Alok Nath) finally asks him about his last wish, to which he points to a picture on his diary and looks away shyly. Everybody is shocked including the family goat.
The film then moves to the climax scene where we see Sunny Leone enter the house adorned like a newly-wed bride. She enters the dying man’s room to fulfil his last wish, and just as things begin to heat up - our man is all excited and out of breath, that he flops dead in her arms.
Next the text blurb shares some smoking facts: “Every cigarette reduces 11 minutes of your life. Think before you smoke the next one. It can cost you your last wish.”
Virality over ‘Message’?
The video has already clocked more than 4 million views on YouTube. This is great news for a social message film, but does it really deliver? It has a quirky script, it has characters played by people who are strongly stereotyped in mainstream media and it has an interesting plot twist to drive home the point. Besides, when Sanskaari Bapuji and Sunny Leone come together in a film, there’s bound to be curiosity leading to video views and the social shares.
But creating a ‘viral’ is not the objective here, the objective is to awaken smokers to the ill effects of smoking. You can do it either by instilling fear in them or by sharing a simple recall fact with them. What we have seen until now is that a typical anti-smoking ad is too gross to watch even for non-smokers - cigarette, tobacco, zarda and the resulting graphic images of mouth cancer, lung cancer, tar in the lungs being squeezed into a glass; these have left rather unappetizing images in our minds.
‘#11Minutes’ is poles apart from these anti-smoking campaigns. It chooses to inform and not scare via a funky storyline, besides we could always do with a refreshing little film featuring Sunny Leone.