Salman Khan, Ayesha Shroff, Aarti Gupta, and others appeared in a Campa Cola advertisement filmed in the Andamans in 1983.
Campa Cola was developed in 1977 by the Pure Drinks Group. When Coca-Cola first arrived in India in 1949, it was launched by Pure Drinks Group, which became the country’s exclusive maker and distributor of the soft drink until the 1970s, when it was requested due to the demands of the new government. In the absence of international competition, the Pure Drinks Group and Campa Beverages Pvt. Ltd. launched a home-grown Campa Cola. The tagline for the product was “The Great Indian Taste,” a call to patriotism. The company then introduced an orange-flavoured soda it dubbed “Campa Orange,” which bore the company’s namesake logo.
Campa Cola was portrayed as a product which was hip and fun. In 1982, Kailash Surendranath, the founder of Kailash Picture Company and an ad film producer, was asked by Chaitra Advertising, which is now Leo Burnett, to make a campaign for Campa Cola.
The creative part was pretty much left to Kailash. He had suggested, for some strange reason, that they do the film underwater. A lot of people had done beach scenes; a lot of people had done party scenes; there was music, beach parties; etc. He wanted to do something different, and he also liked to travel while shooting ads.
Kailash was given a lot of freedom to express his creativity. Somehow, he had recommended filming the whole film underwater. Probably because there were already a plethora of filmed beach scenes and party sequences complete with music and beach parties. He also liked to travel when making commercials, and he was looking for something new to do.
In the 1980s, there wasn’t a lot of advanced technology or equipment for filming underwater. A film titled “Teri Baahon Mein” starring Mohnish Bahl (actress Nutan’s son) and Ayesha Dutt (Jackie Shroff’s girlfriend and later wife) had been released two years prior. Kailash had a friendly relationship with the producer’s sons, with whom he often discussed filmmaking. They had developed an underwater camera that was really an Arriflex film camera with the power switch relocated to the exterior of the housing. He opted to utilise the camera.
The director’s first step in making the ad was to compose a song for it, which he did with Ronnie Desai and Shiv Mathur. It was sung by Gary Lawyer.
Kailash had decided on the campaign’s final cast, which included actress Ayesha, his then-girlfriend Aarti Gupta, and models Shiraz Merchant, Sunil Nischol, and Vanessa Vaz. The boys didn’t dive, but the girls did.
One more male was required – a person who was good at diving and swimming.
Back then, casting was done in a totally different way. People would notice attractive girls and boys and cast them in roles. Networking was the way to get assignments.
According to Aarti’s father, the son of one of his friends was an excellent swimmer and a genuinely nice kid. She was sceptical, telling him that she needed someone edgy. He still persisted.
Coincidentally, at the same time, the Campa Cola commercial was being cast by Kailash, and they needed a swimmer. She was on her way to a shoot when she dropped by the Sea Rock Club. She checked through the intercom and found that a youngster was at the pool. So, she went to check it out and noticed a boy beside the pool; when he saw Aarti, he jumped in. He swam the length of the pool while underwater. She quickly noted this and left immediately, as she was late. The young man’s name was Salman Khan.
Khan reflected on the period when appearing on the Tara Sharma Show “I used to swim a lot. I was one day, swimming at the Sea Rock Club when I saw this really beautiful young lady walking past in a red sari. To impress her, I dived into the water and, being such an idiot, I swam the whole length of it, underwater. So when I came out on the other side, she was not there.”
Salman received a call the following day informing him that he had been cast in a commercial for a soft drink. He was wondering how it had gotten that way. His aunt accompanied him on the trip to see Kailash. It was Salman who inquired, “That’s it, I’m through. I want to know, “Who gave you my number?” Kailash told him that the lady he was trying to impress the day before was actually his girlfriend. She had recommended Salman’s name as he was a good swimmer. That was Salman’s first time appearing on camera.
Finally, on their way to the Andaman, Salman had second thoughts at the airport. He felt out of place. Jackie, who had arrived to drop off Ayesha, was with Sunil, Shiraz, and the girls. They all seemed to have walked straight out of a magazine. Aarti saw his head emerge from behind a pillar. After Aarti had spoken with him, he boarded the plane.
And they started filming. And as they went along, they made up the storyline.
The ad was very well received, and the big buzz was about the new model in the ad.