Google Reunion Ad Analysis Essay
Islamabad: The latest advertisement by Google depicts two elderly friends who reunite for the first time after the partition of India and Pakistan, capturing the entire process in less than four minutes. If only it were that simple in reality.
For several people across the border, this is a dream that might just remain unrealised thanks to the stringent visa regulations that both countries impose on each other.
Even though both countries have moved forward by introducing a liberalised visa regime, which includes visa on arrival for senior citizens, the truth is that it remains quite a task for the common man.
Read here - Google Search: Reunion video a big hit
Take 98-year-old Sardar Mohammed Habib Khan, a former Pakistani government official, for example. While he hails from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, as a forest official he worked in Srinagar and Baramulla in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the 1940s and had applied to visit the cities three times over but with no luck.
"I have such fond memories of Dehradun because that is where I was trained to be a forest official," he says. "But now, at the ripe old age of 98, it's almost impossible to travel," chips in his son who is in 60s.
It is wishes like these that seem impossible to grant.
For Indians too, with roots in Pakistan, there is a certain wistfulness that creeps in every time they talk about the city they were born in.
"I find it ironic that I can travel the world over but can't visit Lahore without someone standing surety for me. I don't know anyone in Pakistan now but want to visit," says 87-year-old Visharda Dhawal, who moved to India during the partition.
Ashraf J. Qazi, former Pakistani High Commissioner to India, stresses on the need for easier visa regimes. "People-to-people contacts are necessary otherwise we will live in ignorance. While the elite, businessmen, students, journalists and others get to visit, people from all classes should get a chance," Qazi told PTI.
For Amrita Sodhi, a young girl from Delhi, visiting Nankana Sahib is her dream.
"I want to visit Nankana sahib and also see other parts of Pakistan where my family lived before partition. I really wish the Google ad is watched by all officials and they realise the emotional bond that exists even after years of partition," she said.
The tearjerker Google ad, meanwhile, has gone viral with many across the border appreciating it. Social media is buzzing with it.
In September 2012, India and Pakistan had signed the much-awaited liberalised visa agreement, which included for the first time a group tourist and a pilgrim visa, separate visa for businessmen and visa on arrival for those over 65 years of age. However it ran into rough weather as bilateral tensions escalated.
It was only in April this year that the visa on arrival for senior citizens, which was supposed to start on January 15, was put into place. While the group tourist visa is still on hold, both countries put the blame on each other's door for the non-implementation of the process. But it's the common man and his family that suffers.
For Fawad A to meet his Indian brother-in-law, a third country has to be chosen each time. "It's really so hard for my parents not to be able to meet their daughter and son-in-law when they want to, even though it's barely a two-hour flight," he said.
But whether you are an Indian or a Pakistani, extensive security checks are carried out before the visa is granted. An official lamented, "Both countries have already liberalised visa to a large extent. But tragically it remains on paper."
"For example, visas for diplomats have to be given in a month's time but it takes at least three months. Before expanding further, what is already signed should be implemented to its last word," he said.
He said that given the Indo-Pak history and security dimensions, visa cannot be issued simply. "These days the waiting time for a visa is much shorter. If one already has a security clearance, it is faster the next time around," the official said.
Tags: india, pakistan, google, visa, indo-pak relations, indo-pak visas, google search reunion, google ad, google reunion ad
Reunion is a 2013 Google India advertisement for Google Search. It was directed by Amit Sharma, written by Sukesh Kumar Nayak, produced by an Ogilvy India branch of Ogilvy & Mather, and published on YouTube on November 13, 2013.Reunion is about the fictional reunion between two elderly men, Baldev Mehra (Vishwa Mohan Badola) from India and Yusuf (Mysore Shrinivas Sathyu) from Pakistan. They were separated as children during the Partition of India.
It has had a strong impact in both India and Pakistan, leading to hope for the easing of travel restrictions between the two countries. It went viral and was viewed more than 1.6 million times before officially debuting on television on November 15, 2013.
Baldev Mehra (Vishwa Mohan Badola) is an elderly Hindu man in Delhi, India, and Yusuf (Mysore Shrinivas Sathyu) is an elderly Muslim man in Lahore, Pakistan. One day Baldev shows his granddaughter Suman (Auritra Ghosh) an old, dated photograph of two children. He tells her that it is himself and his best friend Yusuf when they lived in Lahore prior to the Partition of India in 1947. In front of his house there was a park with a gate made in the stone age and each evening he and Yusuf would fly kites there and "steal" Jhajariyas from Yusuf's family sweet shop. When Partition came, however, Baldev and his family had to leave for India overnight. Many decades later, Baldev still thinks of Yusuf and misses him.
Using details of her grandfather's story, Sumon is able to locate Yusuf's sweet shop in Lahore via her laptop and Google. She connects with his grandson Ali (Syed Shabahat Ali) who helps her to plan a surprise visit from Yusuf on Baldev's birthday.
According to Sukesh Kumar Nayak, Group Creative Director of Ogilvy Mumbai, Google had stated in their brief that "the only thing they wanted was to see [...] how meaningful the search engine is in real life." Nayak also stated that they wanted to make "the connection between real life and Google, magical."Reunion was filmed "in different areas in Delhi, including an old Haveli in Connaught Place, Red Fort, India Gate, and a small scene in Lahore, Pakistan." Singer Clinton Cerejo composed the music for the spot.
The Star (Malaysia) notes that Reunion has "gone viral online, reflecting demands in the two countries for closer people-to-people ties [....] Internet users left thousands of comments on social networking sites describing how the advert had brought them to tears and renewed their hopes for improved relations between the two neighbours." Max Fisher of The Washington Post states that "if you are from South Asia, have family from South Asia, or are merely friends on Facebook with someone who has ties to the subcontinent, you've already seen this video posted to social media in the 48 hours since it went up. In case you haven't, it's a Google advertisement, about three and a half minutes, well worth your time. Yes, it's an ad, meant to prod people in one of the world's largest markets into using Google services. And in that context it can be a bit syrupy. But take a step back for a moment, and try to appreciate what makes this video so powerful that it's already been viewed 1.8 million times."India Today states that "the new Google ad, titled Reunion, touches the raw nerves that linger dormant under the skin of those who were separated during the heady days of Partition [….] While this may have been only an ad, there are many people both in Pakistan and India who will be able to relate to this emotional ad." Affan Chowdhry of The Globe and Mail states that "with nearly a million YouTube views over two days, a new Google ad that tells the story of two old friends reuniting after six decades of separation following the creation of India and Pakistan in 1947 has touched a deep nerve for many South Asians." Nilanjana Bhowmick of Time (magazine) observes that "despite the tensions between the governments of India and Pakistan, this commercial, released by Google India on Wednesday, makes the point that the personal connections between Indians and Pakistanis run deep." Journalist Beena Sarwar states that "if it doesn’t move you, you’ve got a heart of stone." Sunny Peter of the International Business Times argues that "at a time when governments in both countries continue to be suspicious of each other's intent, the Google video comes as a welcome relief. [If only] the visa regime between both the countries was as easy as Google search." Ritu Singh of Zee News states that Reunion struck "an emotional chord with its viewers not only in India but also in Pakistan" as it "depicts the pain of partition which still haunts the mind of people who got separated from their loved ones and places." She also states, "this heart warming ad is sure to overwhelm you." Mrigaa Sethi of Quartz (publication) talks about her family's experience with partition, noting that "Google’s India office has created a tear-jerker ad that is deeply resonant for Indians and Pakistanis with family stories like mine. It shows an aging Hindu Indian man waxing nostalgic to his granddaughter about his Muslim childhood friend in Lahore before the partition [....] The ad, created by Ogilvy, has struck a particularly emotional chord by refusing to take India and Pakistan’s historically adversarial relationship as a given."
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