"'Muffler wala' is synonymous with Arvind Kejriwal" says the Pune-based filmmaker who ran the AAP's 'Sardi' campaign

A candid conversation with filmmaker Abdullah Siddique

A Potpourri of Vestiges Exclusive

Abdullah Siddique, Aam Aadmi Party, Sardi Campaign, The Zero Productions
Abdullah Siddique:  The brain behind AAP's 'Sardi' Campaign
The 2015 Delhi Assembly elections saw the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)a political force that has emerged out of the anti-corruption movement started by the Gandhian social activist Anna Hazare—achieve a landslide victory, winning an unprecedented 67 out of the 70 Assembly seats. Obviously, the AAP win didn't happen overnight and a lot of handwork would have gone into it. Among many things that worked in AAP's favor was the innovative 'Sardi' video campaign that became quite popular on YouTube and other social media platforms. Did you ever wonder who was behind the campaign? Well, the campaign was the brainchild of a Pune-based filmmaker and IT Professional Abdullah Siddique who considers the Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal to be his role model.  
The 'Sardi' campaign has always come across to me as an enigma of sorts. Till this day I remain fascinated by the impact it actually created on the tech-savvy Delhi youth. All this time I have been trying to find answers to very many questions about the efficacy of the 'Sardi' campaign. In the light of the AAP's groundbreaking victory, and, with so many doubts in my mind, I finally yielded to my urge of approaching the multi-talented Abdullah Siddique. Fortunately for me, Abdullah was kind enough to entertain my request for an exhaustive online interview that I wanted to conduct with him for my blog "A Potpourri of Vestiges".

Here's the full conversation:

Q. Your innovative 'Sardi' video campaign for the Aam Aadmi Party proved to be an instant success. What was the driving force behind its unprecedented success?

A. I think 'Sardi' became a success instantly because it highlighted a very important issue of women security which Delhi and other parts of nation is facing. Also the video had an element of mystery at the climax which took the viewers by surprise; I guess they loved the surprise.

Q. In your campaign videos, you only alluded to a certain 'Muffler man' or 'Muffler wala' without naming anyone explicitly. What was the creative thinking behind it?

A.Muffler wala” is synonymous with Arvind Kejriwal. I remember having an argument with someone on facebook who was blasting AK and I, of course, was defending AK. He, before leaving, said don't worry “Winter is Coming”. That remained at the back of my mind and later after releasing the video I got to know that it was a punch line of Game of Thrones also but I was not aware of this before as I had never watched GOT. Also I narrated this idea to some of my friends who advised me not to position the brand muffler as a lot of fun was being made. I told them I will transform that weakness into strength.

Q. Despite your being based out of Pune, the 'Sardi' campaign seemed to brilliantly capture the socio-political state of Delhi. How did you manage to overcome the challenge? 
A. Well, yeah, it was very challenging, but we relied on the issues which have been haunting Delhi: women issues, corruption and finally a reality based video. And some of the Pune AAP volunteers helped us a lot in arranging the setup etc. in terms of location logistics.

Q. AAP's social media head Ankit Lal has praised your efforts openly in the press. How sweet is the smell of success?

A. It's overwhelming and I am very happy that me and my team at The Zero Productions is a significant contributor to AAP's historical win. 

Q. How did the idea of running a video campaign come to your mind in the first place? Were you approached by someone from the AAP or you took up the task voluntarily?

A. No AAP did not approach me. I had been making short films and wanted to contribute to the campaign with what I could do best. I was inspired by the saying: "Fight for your place in history". I was also reminded of what Will Smith’s character says in The Pursuit of Happyness: “If you have a dream, protect it." We wanted to make history.

Q. Your short films for the 'Sardi' campaign not only had strong scripts but they were also well directed and acted. What was the standard procedure that you adopted to make these films?

A. Haha, that's a good question. You won't believe me but I don't do shot breakdowns; mostly, I go on the location and do the direction impromptu. But, yes, some special angles are thought of before the shoot but 90 % is impromptu. I like to spend more time on script and make a perfect one from my side. 
Q. From what I have read about you in the press, I have learnt that you are deeply influenced by Arvind Kejriwal. What is it about him that makes him standout?

A. I identify with AK a lot. He talks about the very issues a common man faces which many people called populist. He's a deadly combination of Gandhiji and Bhagat Singh. My favourite freedom fighter is Bhagat Singh. He showed the guts to change the face of politics. When challenged to change the system by joining the system he accepted it and showed everyone that you can actually perform for your nation. I am not a blind follower, I have analyzed his journey and as per my understanding his intentions are honest and he possess the skills and will to change the nation for good.

Q. You started the video campaign back in November, about three months before the Delhi Assembly elections. So, how frequently did you get the opportunity to interact with Arvind Kejriwal and his team? And how was the overall experience?   

A. Yes as soon as Election commission announced that elections will happen, I called Ankit and said we would like to make a campaign and if you approve and promise to share it on AAP officially we will do it. So we sent the scripts via mail to which he approved and we proceeded. I haven't spoken to AK much. In fact after the first video became a hit many AAP top level people called me to make more videos. I pushed them to get me to talk with AK and one day AK called. I was touched by this gesture of his. He came across as very easy to talk to and was very humble. He praised my video and asked me to send my future videos to his personal email. After the first video, other videos also came but that time it became difficult to get in touch with social media team for reasons best known to them. But Arvind Jhaa, who is IT head, helped the other two get shared and so I am thankful to him.

Q. How did you arrange the funding for the 'Sardi' campaign? Did the AAP social media and IT Team provide any financial assistance?

A. Well my team at The Zero Productions contributed along with volunteers, Gaurav Maggu and Anil Choudry, who are from Delhi. Although we were told that a basic cost would be funded by Ankit but he remained unreachable so we decided to go ahead ourselves .

Q. What inspired you to start a YouTube channel? How difficult was it to find the right traction in the early going? Also, tell us something about your creative team.

A. Well I have been a movie buff and always wanted to be in films. That is why after engineering I did Media Management from International School of Business and media. Then I landed a job in a production company in Mumbai. There I realized that my whole life will pass but I might never get to make a film of my own. The recession led me to quit industry and I went back to joining IT. I worked for around 7 years and did nothing related to film making. Then suddenly one day after 7 years an urge emerged from nowhere and that is how I decided to make a short film called “Unexplained.” which I had written during my Media college days. And that is how we started the channel in October 2013. It was very well received by the limited audience we could show it to. And that's how we ever since pursued it as a hobby along with the job we do. The team that I have comprises all non-film IT guys, but, nonetheless, very talented. Some of them have left becasue of their personal priorities but I would like to mention all of them here: 

Abhishek Gupta, Ahmed Bari, and Tariq Ghayas helped in Creative and Production Managament; Varun Mankar, and Vishesh in the Direction team; Akshay Jagtiani and Surya Prakash are in the Cinematography group; Abrar Hussain is in the Editing department; Arshad Shirguppi is the Lyrics and Script writer as well as a Background musician.

And today our channel enjoys a strong subscription base which is fast growing.

Q. Abdullah, you yourself have emerged as a source of inspiration for aspiring filmmakers. So, if you were to give any advice to the young and upcoming filmmakers, what would it be?

A. Haha, I don't think I am an inspiration I just think I got a bit lucky. I still have a very long way to go. Like AK has got a start, I too have got a start; but to my counter parts all I can say is look at life as a film... at the end there will be a happy ending.

Q. What next do you plan to do now that the AAP has formed the government in Delhi? Do you have any new assignments in the pipeline?

A. We had dedicated our 3 months for AAP and now we can relax. We have some ideas we are working on and some pending films still in the editing stage; we will be back with more stories soon.


Shocking Eve Teasing Video In Delhi - The Zero Productions

Delhi Shocking True Incident (Paanch Saal Kejriwal) - The Zero Productions

Shocking Corruption Exposed in Delhi (Paanch Saal Kejriwal) The Zero Productions

Readers, please feel free to share your thoughts/views by leaving your comments in the box below. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!  

- Murtaza Ali

People who liked this also liked...
Share on Google Plus


Post a Comment

Thanks for sharing for valuable opinion. We would be delighted to have you back.