x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Mani Shankar shoots commercial in Dubai

The adventure tourism commercial for the Dubai-based Country Club India will portray the UAE in a new light.

The director Mani Shankar, who has scaled the heights of the Indian film and commercial industries, believes the sky is the limit.

In Dubai this week to shoot a commercial on adventure tourism for the Dubai-based Country Club India, Shankar, along with the chairman of the Country Club India, Rajeev Reddy, jumped out of a plane at 13,500 feet for a spot of skydiving.

Shankar says the commercial portrays the UAE in a new light, away from its usual shopping and desert attractions. "The aim is to show the country as an adventure tourism destination for Indians," he says. "There are many great facilities here, in terms of sports and recreation, that would cost much more in India. There is a lot you can do here."

Over the past three decades, Shankar has shot more than 1,500 commercials, including successful campaigns for the likes of Coca-Cola. He says reaching such heights for a television commercial has become an industry norm.

Shankar believes that commercials in India have come a long way from being a mere visual medium.

"This is the age of YouTube, and we seem to have lost our reading habit. A commercial is all about holding the attention of the viewer, and the only way to do that is to make it appealing. It is important to pack as much as you can into those 30 seconds."

Shankar's visual flair can be seen in his growing number of Bollywood films, which include the 2001 award-winning 16 December and his 2010 thriller Knock Out, starring Sanjay Dutt.

But he says that the jump from commercials to feature films presents its own set of challenges. "With film, you focus more on the story," he says. "You also have a whole year to work on it, while with a commercial you get a month. Sometimes, spending a lot of time on one project can make you quite impatient."

sasaeed@thenational.ae