Platypus introduces Cannes Gold-winning director to South African market

Platypus Productions is proud to be representing Indian director Prakash Varma in South Africa.
One of Asia's top directors, Varma's work should be well-known to local creatives.

He won a Gold Craft for Best Use of Music at the recent Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for Train, his advert for Government of India Ministry of Railways. He also won a Bronze Craft for Cinematography for Kerala Tourism - Your Moment is Waiting at this year's New York Advertising Festival.

Varma's commercials were also featured at Design Indaba in 2010 as a key part of the presentation by Ogilvy Mumbai's Piyush Pandey, the first Asian to be president of the Cannes Lions jury.

Anyone who was there will remember sitting on the edge of their seat for Varma's nail-biting "Get Used to Tension" Gas commercial for Neo Sports' India/Pakistan series campaign, which won Silver at Cannes Lions in 2008 and two awards at D&AD. They'll also remember the way the hall echoed with laughter for Varma's Vodafone ZooZoo campaign, which won two Grand Prixs at The Abby Awards in 2010 and became a cult sensation with over six million YouTube hits.

The ZooZoo campaign was Varma's first collaboration with Platypus, who facilitated, edited and post-produced the adorable ads. Varma has since returned to work with the Cape Town production company several times on other projects, including this year's equally popular Super ZooZoo campaign.

"We're privileged to be working with Varma and are looking forward to introducing such a pioneering talent to local agencies," says Platypus Productions' founder Ian Chuter. "Varma is a world-class director with extraordinary vision. South African agencies are looking for originality and new treatments, and Varma has a different sensibility; he'll tell our stories with fresh eyes."

Varma's been shooting in our country for nearly 10 years, so he's no stranger to our culture or crews.

India is perhaps even more complicated than South Africa: they have over a billion people, 33 000 dialects, and three million gods and goddesses, so Varma understands the challenge of conveying one message to a diverse nation. "Once you've worked in India, you can work anywhere," says Ian.

Varma's award-winning Incredible India spot epitomises his unique visual sense, while his Gold Craft at Cannes Lions for Train shows he has a gifted ear too. His ads for Airtel India and Jaypee Construction showcase his phenomenal talent for performances, even with children, while the pacing of the Neo Sports campaign proves he's got a feel for edits too.

"He's genuinely the whole package," says Ian. "But then he also has this uncanny emotional integrity to his work, which speaks directly to your heart."

Refreshingly, Varma is also an absolute pleasure to work with. "He doesn't have an ego and understands collaborating with agencies," Ian says.

Diana Keam, Platypus Productions' executive producer, says that while Varma comes with added transport costs, he's comparably priced to any of the top directors in South Africa.

Varma runs his own company, Nirvana Films, with branches in Bangalore and Mumbai. He's also represented in America by The Institute, founded by Hollywood director Michael Bay.

To watch his showreel, visit

Founded in 1992, Platypus Productions is one of most established commercial production companies in South Africa, but is enjoying a new lease on life since their Vodafone ZooZoo campaign became a global phenomenon.

Representing directors Ian Chuter, Prakash Varma, Vicci Turpin, Michael Buckley, Fiona Macpherson, and Renee van Reenen, Platypus offers a full-service creative solution for any board, from production to post-production.

5 Aug 2011 15:23


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