“Cricket, always cricket” says former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting, when asked what’s the first thing he thinks of, when he thinks of India.
The nation’s cricket obsession is as well documented as Ponting’s dominance as a batsman – regarded as one of Australia’s most successful run makers.
Mix Ponting with India – and you have a powerful combination. That’s exactly what Swisse Wellness did, in May this year, filming their latest TV campaign featuring the sporting legend in a Mumbai fishing village on the banks of the Ganges.
The reason? Ponting celebrated 10 years as a Swisse ambassador in 2016 – this was a celebration of sorts – taking Ponting and award winning cinematographer turned director Tov Belling to Mumbai to create TV ad magic.
We spoke with Belling about the unforgettable experience – and what to expect from the ads on air in January 2017.
Watch behind the scenes of Ricky Ponting’s latest Swisse campaign shot in Mumbai, India
You filmed cricket legend Ricky Ponting in India. Are you crazy?
Sometimes you have to go into the belly of the beast to find the best stories. There is an honesty and joy in the street cricket scene in India that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Getting Ricky to engage with that was incredibly powerful.
How many people were involved in the TV shoot?
Hundreds really. The Aussie team was around five and we have an amazing core team in Mumbai of about 10. The Indian crew was around 90 and the extras and security made up the rest. I am used to big sets, but in Mumbai, they do big with added frenzy.
How did you select the local talent?
The cricketing kids came from local cricket clubs and the extras were cast from agencies.
What’s the story behind the village?
It is still ostensibly a fishing village even after all this time. It seemed to have its own character and identity within this huge city. There were a variety of areas and vistas, so perfect for shooting. The people were so welcoming and really let us into their lives for a few days. We later found out the Coldplay video Hymn for the Weekend was also shot in Worli.
Is it true the same crew from Slum Dog Millionaire worked on it?
Ha, yes, but I feel that it may be the same effect as all of the crew in New Zealand worked on Lord of the Rings.
What security did Ponting require?
We had substantial security for Ricky, but I had the feeling that it wasn’t so much for his safety as it was to keep the fans at a reasonable distance so we could work.
Describe what it was like on set…
The shoot feels like a bit of a blur but definitely the fun of working with Ricky and the kids – a once in a lifetime experience. Commanding an unusually large crew was also fun – the Indian crews are fantastic!
How long did you shoot for?
I was in Mumbai for 11 days, but the shoot was only for two days.
Any bloopers you could share?
The ‘Picture Cars’ were an ambassador taxi and an auto rickshaw. The rickshaw broke down when it was supposed to go through the background, so we got a bunch of people to push it through the take. Very authentic in the end!
What was the best thing about the day?
By the end of the second day it seemed like the entire village was now part of the extras, following us around like a huge throng. Being let into the lives was a privilege. Oh, yes, and the food! I love the food – too much. I did get sick…too much street food too soon.