A guide to gatecrashing into pop culture
By Satvika Jain, Copy Supervisor, and the team behind the wheel for the new Uber India’s #RentalHealthDay campaign
The #RentalHealthDay campaign for Uber began with five sets of initials sitting on a Teams call, contemplating how the service should be positioned. Are vehicle rentals a hustler’s Holy Grail for going everywhere with one ride, or a safe bubble for the rest of us? According to Kaivalya, it was both.
“People wanted to do it all, without leaving their bubble.”
A minute later, we found our eureka moment. Zubin spoke about ‘wanting to take a Rental Health Day’ and five cameras turned on. We knew we had something special.
Of course, we had our apprehensions. Were we being insensitive, irrelevant, or imprudent? Things felt more in sync when we decided only to focus on the stress of driving in the city, exactly what a Rental Health Day was meant to tackle.
The next question was, who really needed a day in the backseat?
Bollywood’s youngest star, Anil Kapoor. His age-defying appearance has been a running joke, with more than a hint of truth to it.
A series of Anil Kapoors strolled onto my deck. There was Majnu Bhai 2022, painting fresh masterpieces in the middle of the road, unperturbed by traffic. There was the Kapoor who giggled his way through a jam, calling out 25-year-olds as 52-year-olds on the driver’s seat.
However, when Chirag said it as a joke, or in all seriousness (with him, who knows) that AK wasn’t just young, he was Uber young (you can quote him on this), the joke stuck, and we found our AK.
“There was a strong urge to create something that was right out of pop culture. But when we cracked the narrative of ‘Don’t ask, kya karte ho? Poocho, kya nahin karte ho?’ we realized the opportunity to create an original, something that can become a part of pop culture instead,” says Ankit. It was utility in vanity.
Anil Kapoor agreed. Despite receiving thousands of scripts per day, he clearly held passion for this one and so, we started looking for the perfect director. That part was far from a smooth ride.
“I was wrestling with a poor network when I first spoke to Shakun Batra on a Zoom call,” says Ankit. “I heard two things — ‘Let’s do a mockumentary’ and ‘…some bits need re-writing.’ We were a week to 10 days away from the shoot date but those two phrases were enough for me to know that this is going to be a tough task but will be totally worth it.”
On set, there were moments when AK made the entire crew crack up, leading to retakes, and moments when AK himself broke into laughter because of how the scene was panning out.
“There were so many jokes we let go of in the final draft of the script,” recalls Johanna, “and yet, many more were born when the camera started rolling. Practically every actor in the film has added a look, a line, or a moment that surprised us and eventually, the audience.”
There were more surprises yet to come, as Shakun decided to cast Ankit and Kaivalya as debuting actors in the ad. Armed with a microphone and camera, they stood ready to shoot the comeback shot. Right before the camera started rolling, Anil Kapoor said, “Theek se karo na, tumhaara script hai. Tum theek se nahin karoge toh kaun karega?” Now read that back in Majnu Bhai’s voice.
Going into the shoot, the plan was to have AK wearing the tracksuit when he’s talking to the camera, but when we shot those sequences, the look just stood out. And this led to Shakun’s suggestion — let’s have AK in that tracksuit throughout the film. That one gangsta look that people remember him by. Fun side-story: As we debated the idea, AK joined us and presented his case with an anecdote. He reminded us of his iconic role in Mr. India — no matter the scene, song, or situation, he was always dressed in his shirt, jacket, and hat. People remember that look when they think of Mr. India.
The logic was solid, the look was sleek, and the rest was Shakun Batra’s masterstroke!
After the film was released, the memes practically made themselves, Bollywood A-listers jumped on the bandwagon, and we saw Rental Health Day becoming more than a hashtag. It became a medium to talk to corporates about overworked employees, a gift for hustling mothers and of course, was embraced by AK’s fans as his secret to youth with open hearts (and sunglasses).
P.S. Bonus, Bonus — if you’re a Nayak fan, this one’s for you: