Your Moment is Waiting
A few weeks ago Kerala Tourism’s latest promo film had an exclusive worldwide premiere at Saatchi Gallery in London. Titled ‘Your Moment is Waiting’ and made by Stark Communications, the video is a part of Kerala Tourism’s new international campaign which extends to a revamped website as well.
Director Prakash Varma, in an interview at the premiere, says that the film tries to capture moments, especially the ephemeral ones- moments that travellers shared with Kerala Tourism, but were unable to express adequately in words.
As a promotional film, it does not disappoint. ‘Your Moment is Waiting’ looks and sounds completely different from all of Kerala Tourism’s earlier films. Not only is there a conspicuous absence of mundu clad women pouring oil onto pasty white foreigners, Kalari on the Beach and the customary overly happy Kathakali dancer sitting in the midst of foliage; but the soundtrack is Afrikan. Yes, Afrikan. The music has been scored by Baba Maal, a Senegalese musician.
Personally, I loved the music. It works really well with the mood that the director hoped to set with the film. The film, of course, has had mixed reviews. One just needs to follow the comments on the YouTube video to get a quick glimpse at the general reactions. While many Keralans have appreciated the video, some of the others have declared that the film does not showcase the real Kerala- one comment very emphatically asks “where are the kerala kuttys?!”
Since I have declared my love for the look, feel and sound of the film, I will move on to more important things — the content. It irks me. Kerala has, for over a decade, been India’s biggest superbrand. Ever since the late 90s when it took the country’s tourism scene by storm, it has constantly been used as an example for the wonders that destination branding can do. Kerala’s recipe for success has always been the same — Ayurveda, Backwaters and some Culture on the side. Despite probably being the only Indian state that gets tourist inflow throughout the year, Kerala never seems to have stepped out of this self-set canon when it comes to its campaigns. ‘Your Moment is Waiting’, with the exception of Miriam Ilorah continues to feature the same tropes that have been covered over many years. The minor difference being this time the Kathakali artist has no make-up on and we have the new addition of Theyyam artists very aesthetically seated in the middle of nowhere.
The new promo film may look absolutely stunning, but at the end of it all it is simply a case of old toddy in a new bottle.
Kerala Tourism, your moment is still waiting.
(On another note, the elephant in the last scene of the film has got to be the most perfect pachyderm I have ever seen. I must have it).