A chat with Titus Upputuru, the director behind Honda’s endearing ‘Strangers’ commercial for their café-racer style CB300R bike
Two strangers cross paths while riding on the road. They lose track on the empty streets, only to discover each other again at a quiet rider’s cafe. Coincidence? Destiny? Whatever it may be, magic happens, and they ride out together.
No spoilers here. Watch the endearing new commercial ‘Strangers’ (Director’s Cut/ 90 sec.) directed by Titus Upputuru for Honda’s CB300R. The film captures the essence of café racing culture through effective storytelling, brilliant visualisation, a languid pace and an uplifting background score that takes the narrative forward. A big departure from the usual bike commercials that rely on power & tech specs that make it difficult to distinguish one from the other.
We spoke to Titus Upputuru, the director of the film, about the making of the commercial and here’s what he had to say:
On the idea behind the film:
A young creative team – Archana and Sumanyu – came up with the idea of having these bikers bump into each other on a road and later meeting and connecting at a cafe. The client liked the idea since it was part of the cafe racing culture.
On the rather unusual idea of integrating a word game in a bike ad.:
It was the creative team’s idea to have a game of scrabble. I instantly loved it because it gives you so much scope to build what you could with the words the protagonists choose to make. They were communicating through the words they were making on the board. That was the interesting part to me; that they were communicating without speaking. It was just words on the board and their eyes. We had brain stormed over several words and constructions. I love the game of scrabble so had fun coming up with the options.
About the shoot location:
It was entirely shot in Delhi sometime around March 2022. Delhi has some lovely locations, not to mention roads. We shot on the roads around the new Aerocity and then in a cafe which if I remember was called Underdoggs. We art directed the cafe with the kind of vibe we wanted. But skeletally, it had great promise. I was keen to have a good cafe of international class as the backdrop since Honda is a global brand and I wanted to deliver a classy feel.
On the background score selection and soul stirring blues vibe:
I really enjoyed working with Rupert Fernandes on this track. He is of course wonderful. When we started jamming, I told him I wanted to have a blues track as the soul of the film and he absolutely loved the idea. He composed the track, I wrote the lyrics in the studio, and a classical singer sang it with all her heart. It all worked out together wonderfully, by God’s grace.
On keeping the audience curiosity alive in the film:
One of the interesting things was to make sure that we don’t give away who the ‘Rockstar’ was. We wanted to keep that intrigue going. You can’t really tell who the riders were. We didn’t want people to know that the ‘Rockstar’ was a girl. But the song kind of eludes to it. So not giving it away was the tough part. Because Anna, the actress, had lovely long tresses and we had to make sure that the ‘Rockstar’ does not give it away. Both Akshat and Anna did a great job and I was really happy with their effortless performances. The entire production team was wonderful to work with too!
The Production team:
ESP Films produced this film. They are wonderful folks to partner with. I had earlier directed HarperCollins India’s haunting murder mystery ‘Parcel’ with them too.
About the Director:
Titus Upputuru, is an award winner film director (winner at the 12th DadaSaheb Phalke Film Festival 2022 for his short film ‘Nip In The Bud’). He has been directing ad. films and short films for over 8 years now. He loves bringing in human emotions through story telling. Being a writer himself, he likes to collaborate with other writers and agency creatives to take the script further and make a film even more memorable. He has studied literature for 5 years and likes to bring in nuances. He loves music and the role it plays in cinema and film.