Hrithik Roshan was at the studio yesterday shooting for a new Milano ad. This one features him as a Roman emperor seducing an enemy princess with honey, cashewnuts, chocolate and all the ingredients that go into baking this exotic cookie in a tent kitchen in the middle of a battle field.
“Like with the earlier ad, the product is a catalyst for sensual romance but the scale is a 100 times bigger. We are almost filming a Gladiator in 30 seconds,” says the director, Indrajit Nattoji, admitting that Hrithik’s regal bearing as a Mughal emperor in Jodhaa Akbar could have played a part in determining his new avatar.
Since Hrithik will not be able to travel to Rome, more precisely Campos that is 150 kilometres from the historic city, they will be filming him in costume against a blue screen. And Nattoji will then travel to Italy to fill in the frame with location details.
The director informs that they had sourced for locations in China, Thailand, Malasia, Prague and Turkey before settling on Italy. It wasn’t just the historical significance of Rome and the fact that the packaging of the product is very European that drew him. He was also influenced by his actor’s classical good looks reminiscent of a Greek God.
And also the fact that authentic period costumes were easily available there and did not have to be recreated from threads. However, Hrithik’s costume was tailored to particular specifications by Sanjeev Mulchandani. And despite the fact that the actor is known to be a hard-to-please perfectionist, the clothes passed muster in just two trials.
The post-production will be done in Malaysia with special effects galore. “We’ll be going the way of the Hollywood hit, 300,” promises an upbeat Nattoji. “Twenty ‘extra’ warriors are going to multiply into 10,000. It may be a 30-second ad at the end of the day but in actuality I’m making a quarter of a Troy.”
The girl opposite Hrithik is a never-seen-before-face in India. “Scarlett is an English model who can act too, since that was top priority. It was her light eyes that caught my eye and the fact that she could look both arrogantly proud and beautifully sensual,” Nattoji explains.
Reminiscing about the earlier Milano campaign, the director says that putting Hrithik in an “uber cool packaging in 40 seconds” was the biggest challenge “since we were exploring three-four genres including the stereotypical song and dance”.
He has a special word for his star who gave him exactly the same pose after a half-day break. “I don’t know how he got the step and body angle so perfectly right the second time too,” Nattoji marvels. “It was almost mathematically precise!”
Nattoji was a senior producer at Channel [V] for on-air promos for three years before he started his own production design studio Blink Pictures in 2001. He has directed many national commercials for renowned brands like Krackjack, Sony Ericsson, Cadbury, Levis, Kelloggs, Castrol and Kitkat among others.