From adman to film man, ‘motherhood' narrative always has a big role to play in Titus Upputuru's creations

Upputuru, Founder and CCO, The Titus Upputuru Company, was behind DS Group's film for Catch spices, titled, “Kyunki Khana Sirf Khana Nahi Hota”. He spoke to on his journey from a writer and creative director to a filmmaker, and how writing and film making - when combined - emerge to be more powerful

BuzzInContent Bureau
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Titus Upputuru

This year’s Mother’s Day ad for DS Group’s Catch Masala showcased a woman fondly cooking and delivering a tiffin to a young girl at an orphanage, without someone catching a whiff of it, on a daily basis. 

And while the young girl savours the food, sometimes alone and sometimes with her friends, she does not really know who is the person who ensures that not even a day goes by when she doesn’t get home-cooked food. 

In fact, there comes a point in the ad where the young girl’s friends tell her that whosoever is bringing her “Ghar ka khana” on a routine basis, it would be none other than her mother. But soon, another girl interrupts by saying that if the young girl had a mother, why would she be in an orphanage.

While there are several hints given from the start, the identity of the cook is revealed at the end when the woman for the first time receives in return a couple of chocolate bars and a handwritten note from the young girl wishing her on the occasion of Mother’s Day, post which tears start rolling down from her eyes as she walks out of the room and reveals her identity as a sex worker.

The film has been directed by Titus Upputuru, Founder and CCO, The Titus Upputuru Company, who exhibits a pattern of always putting the mother in the foreground in most of his creations.

Speaking about the film, Upputuru told that he’d first like to take into account the sheer love and passion that a team puts behind a script and an idea. He then went on to share his view on how he went about the film. He said, “I want to put in everything to bring a sheet of paper alive, to make it breathe and live. That’s a huge responsibility and I give it my all.”

“When Grapes had narrated this script to me, I loved it. DS Group showed full faith. I wanted to breathe in a certain sensitivity. I wanted to nuance the character. I jammed with the creatives and the marketing team and gave some inputs as a director and a writer, which they liked,’ he added.

Upputuru also pointed out that there were many challenges - including location permissions and weather forecasts showing rain - God helped them through and through as the entire team, cast and crew toiled on.

Upon being questioned as to how did he narrow down the objects, costumes, locations, backgrounds, etc. for the film, in addition to the music which elevates the feel all the more, Upputuru replied that everything, in a way, flowed to him as the team researched about the kind of locations these women live in and work out of to ensure that there was a sense of authenticity. 

“At the same time, I wanted to give it my own take as a filmmaker. So, the colours, the sounds, the smells, the costumes, the art direction, everything was important. We wanted to keep the surprise till the end but hints of her personality I wanted to keep giving from the beginning,” he stated.

Giving a sneak peek into the music bit, he emphasised that because the aim was to have a song at the end which would go with the environment when the identity of the woman was revealed, he himself wrote the lyrics of “Khusbhoo awara ban chali” and shared it with Arjuna Harjai who later came up with a melody that he instantly liked.

“The song turned out to be such a classic and it sounded so authentic. We worked together on how the graph of the background score should go and it all fell into place,” he said.

Commenting on the response from the people and the industry, Upputuru shared that it has been incredible and the love hasn’t stopped pouring across platforms- be it Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or YouTube. 

“I think people not only resonated with the film but also the message – about the sacrifices that mothers make. There are many who saluted DS Group to have the courage to go ahead with this kind of brave subject. In fact, one of the technicians working with us was an Italian and even though she didn’t understand a word of Hindi, she said she was blown away by the courage of this woman,” he opined.

On the topic of the transition from being a writer and creative director to a filmmaker, Upputuru mentioned that to him, it all feels seamless.

“It’s not like I have to put off my writer’s hat when I am directing, in fact, it helps. You not only understand where the writer may be coming from but also the reasons behind his input. Writing and film making when combined, is powerful. Being a writer also helps because I can borrow from the recesses of that part of me when I am thinking about the film,” he stated.

Additionally, he also stated that it helps him be cognizant of the fact that such things must work in the real world, because from the early days of his career, he has learnt that people are most important and therefore, he never consciously chased awards. 

“By God’s grace, I did win but to me, the most important thing was and is people’s love. How the consumer will react is very important and you don’t need to get the consumer wired up to know when and at what point he or she is losing interest or when the heartbeat is going faster. This comes from experience and also from being present- being a part of conversations and not isolating oneself, but keep listening constantly,” he said.

He also shared the view that it is very important to not get carried away by storytelling and forget who told the story, because if people must remember the story, they ought to remember the ones who told it as well.

“It does not come from putting the logo on top of the ad throughout or in the first five seconds- that at best is distracting, there are other ways to make sure people remember your brand,” he stated.

When questioned as to how has he seen the role of mothers changing in the society, and as a result in ads as well, Upputuru replied, “I think we started moving beyond the stereotype. For instance, in this film, we showed a working mother; only the kind of work was so unbelievably different. So, it’s no longer only the young mother who is sitting pretty until her children come swinging by into the home and she moves her magical wand to cook up wonders in two minutes- there’s a lot more nuancing now.”

He then went on to recall and share that when he directed the Mother’s Day film for Honda, which showed men too and the line at the end said, “To the mothers in all of us”, during the pandemic, he wanted to bring out a new aspect of motherhood – that it is not limited to only gender. 

Another such instance, in his view, was the Omron film where he reversed the mother-daughter roles and showed a new dimension of parenthood where the Amma was the daughter. 

Sharing the rationale behind why women and most importantly, mothers, are at the core of the ad campaigns that he produces today or have written and directed in the past, he stated that while he has done all kinds of films, albeit fun, fashion, suspense and so on and so forth, he does realise that there is a dominant theme of motherhood in some of his films.

“Maybe it’s because I lost mine when I was 16. I don’t know. But it wasn’t a conscious decision that I was writing or directing keeping a mother in mind. All the films that you mention were relevant to the brand and the marketing tasks that were pertinent then,” he shared candidly.

Nokia’s Diwali Ad Campaign banking on motherhood-

Moreover, he also emphasised that mothers play a vital role in choosing a brand or making a purchase and even more so today when they are comparatively more independent, they are taking so many more decisions and have such a strong point of view related to practically every choice or every purchase. And therefore, to his understanding, it’s important to keep mothers at the centre of the universe. 

“Deewar’s iconic dialogue - ‘Mere paas maa hain’ - still resonates with me,” he chuckled.

Mother's Day Honda motherhood music film-making ad campaign Ds Group Titus Upputuru Catch Masala Sex worker home cooked food orphanage Omron mother writer sounds costumes