We told India to give equal importance to mental health as it does to physical health

Guest Column: Tanuj Khanna, Creative Director, What’s Your Problem (a Wondrlab Company) & Suresh Eriyat, Founder & Creative Director, Studio Eeksaurus, narrate the process of creating this campaign

e4m by Tanuj Khanna & Suresh Eriyat
Updated: Jan 22, 2021 4:13 PM
Tanuj Khanna & Suresh Eriyat

India is in denial about its mental health. That’s probably why we’re probably the most depressed country in the world. The stigma around mental illness leads to people being undereducated about the subject. It’s signs, symptoms, and unwillingness to get help.

Insurance has always played an active role in awakening the consciousness of the country towards its health. But that too has been very skewed to physical health. Future Generali realised this gap and changed its philosophy to help India find #HealthInsideOut. Which meant it would always give Mental Health as much importance as it gave Physical Health.

Since the topic was a difficult one to speak openly about. And people needed to learn that their actions and reactions could be signs of their mental health being compromised, we couldn’t take a direct approach which could scare them off. We needed to package our communication in a light-hearted but yet hard-hitting manner. Something that would stick in the minds of the audience.

The answer came with the insight that things around us suffer because of our mental illnesses. When we’re stressed we take it out on stress balls. When we’re filled with rage, something around us breaks. And the pillow is put to many uses because we can’t sleep. These objects are generally just mute spectators.

So we thought, we should give these inanimate objects a voice. In doing so, get everyone who has ever suffered from any of the signs, to take notice.

We wrote films from the point of view of these regular items; a stress ball, a broken vase, and a pillow.  We gave each a voice that brought out the signs of three very different mental illnesses; Stress, rage, depression. But we wrapped their stories in the cloak of humour to make it easily digestible for a country in denial of their own mental health.

But the question remained, what was the best way to bring out their stories?  

Suresh Eriyat had the answer. Being the genius animation filmmaker he is, he thought the best way to really bring the idea alive and connect with the audiences, would be to add personalities to these objects and make them memorable. Make them talk by giving them a mouth and features so when they speak, people can actually relate to them and their plight.

This was no ordinary objective as Suresh had definite ideas about their personifications. It couldn’t have been made into cartoons as they would become far from being believable. We had to discover those faces from the creases ( of the pillow), cracks (of the vase) and scratches/aberrations (on the stress-ball). So, It had to be stop-motion. And this meant physically creating the movements of every object by hand. Computer-generated animation would make them dead with the in your face digital unreality and we wanted to avoid that. The tactile feel was important for these and Suresh believes when we craft something with our hands we pass on a part of our lives into those animated objects. Same life is breathed into the old grandfather chair handcrafted by that master carpenter ages ago.  

The first thing we had to do, was to write down the personality of these objects in words, their age, their backstory, even whether they are male or female had to be determined!! After this definition,  we had to audition for their voices. We brought on board three extremely talented theatre actors to breathe life into these objects with their voices. They had to emote like the characters who would be facing these horrors first hand from their owners.

As per the personalities that we jotted down, we created the individual living spaces in a studio for the films. 

Then came the last and most difficult part, the stop-motion animation. Where Suresh and his team of magician animators manually created and shot 12 movements for every second using the stress ball, vase, and pillow. This process in itself took 3-4 weeks. 2 setups were created for simultaneous animation.

Here’s a link to the making of this campaign!

At the end of the day, the roughly six months of hard work paid off. In a way we get to tell India to start giving their Mental Health the same importance it’s been giving its physical health. 

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