Bajaj is using the voice of radio doyen Amin Sayani in a television commercial for one of its vehicle range. Though this advertisement might be a complete unit in itself but the commercial plays a different combination of Indian language stanza along with the Hindi opening lines from a popular song of Adnan Sami for the Hindi movie Saathiya. What you consequently get are different versions of the same advertisement. In another commercial, again for an automobile, shows a bike rider who forgets the name of the Product (Petrol) while visiting a refuel station. The guy at the pump is able to guess the right word after the rider provides an assortment of clues. This commercial too has many versions, and sometimes various versions are shown during breaks of the same programme.

Now for the industry I am associated with maintaining various versions of a product is not uncommon (infact you need other software products to maintain/control these versions), but for the Indi advertisement industry probably this is a novel concept. AFAIK memory retention is one of the key factors for the success of a commercial. I remember that the commercial for Vicco Vajradanti shown on TV and Cinemas has hardly changed over the years in terms of the jingle and concept. May be this is true for products with large market share but for the ones that have to fight it out, cold-drinks for instance, we usually see new advertisement often with new celebrity brand ambassador one or twice a year. Commercials have had different versions based on the regional demands, a Pepsi commercial showing Akshay Kumar works in the Northern belt but for South the compulsions would be to go for an action-start popular there, say Chiranjivi. The basic treatment at the script level seems to remain the same withal.

Speaking of Bollywood, people have been making various versions of the stereotypical love stories mocking geometrical figures. Script is basically at the beck and call of Box-office and market considerations. It's said that following the recovery of Amitabh, Manmohan Desai's Coolie's script did a complete volte-face as far as the climax is concerned and Amitabh shown to live on. Many Maniratnam flicks have also had their regional language versions. In post 80's Gulshan Kumar started the notorious trend of creating cover version of popular songs finding a loophole in the copyright acts, which has now percolated into today's raunchy remix-videos with well-ventilated dancing ladies. Anyways, back to the subject.

What I meant by all this is that different versions of storylines with different closings are a rarity. Though I remember “Run Lola Run” was a movie where situations change for same set of events giving an unexpected plication to the story. Zee TV too experimented with the interactive show called “Aap kahein haan to haan, Aap kahein naa to naa” based on a Brazilian TV show, where the turning points in the story are based upon viewer responses. Imagine your local video library having a version of “Ek duje ke liye” with a happy ending. Grapevine is, Ramgopal Verma is also working on a movie that will have tow different climax sequences. I don't know whether he plans to release these distinct versions based on regional tastes or whether the same cinema hall will be showing a different version in various shows. In the effort of to do something new the conversion of the visual media into an interactive medium is indeed a laudable effort.

[Read the Hindi version of this post.]