Iconic Ads: Maruti Suzuki Service – Kancha

This advertisement was to highlight that Maruti Service Stations existed even where there are no places to stay or eat.

One of the biggest strengths of Maruti Suzuki was the dealer and service network it had/has. No automobile company can come close to it. By early 2000, Maruti had reached every corner of India. You are never very far from a Maruti Authorised Service Station.

Jagdish Khattar was keen to communicate this huge advantage. He briefed Rediffusion. The creative team led by Sabyasachi Gullu Sen took up the challenge.

Gullu presented the idea to Jagdish and it was approved straight away. He created one of Maruti’s most famed TV commercials ever, the ‘Kancha’ ad shot in Leh-Ladakh, to highlight that Maruti Service Stations existed even where there are no places to stay or eat.

The film directed by Vikram Singh Oberoi was produced, and everyone, including Jagdish, loved it, except the visiting Japanese bosses. They thought this claim was preposterous.

There was a dealer conference soon in Punjab. This commercial was presented to the dealers to get their opinion. The dealers loved it and gave a standing ovation. The Japanese bosses were convinced, and the commercial was telecast. The commercial went onto become a super hit.

Rakesh Sidana (who acts in this film) has an interesting anecdote to give. “I was working as an Asstt director for Vikram. At the end of the day, all the auditions had to be sent out on VHS and sent to Gullu Sen’s team through courier. I used to also run the post-production studio at that time. Every audition meant time taken from the studio. One day, while compiling the video, I told Vikram in frustration, “ Why do these actors ramble take after take it’s not that hard to say 4 lines” to that Vikram said “ (Tu Kar lega?) You think you can do it?” I said “Easy”. In reality, I had no interest in acting.

One day Manish Chaudhari (Rocket Singh fame) came for an audition and Vikram called me as a stand-in to run the lines with him. Agency loved it, the client loved it and I couldn’t squeeze myself out of it.

So there I am with Manish Chaudhari (Bollywood’s finest actor) in this iconic commercial. What ensued after that was mad driving, assistant direction, editing and acting on the spot. Wild Ride.”

Trivia – Zozilla Engineering Works is an actual service station located in Kargil.

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