The many moods of the modern Indian groom—explored by Jim Sarbh

Fashion, but make it inclusive. Make it realistic. Make it stimulating. A push for imagery that’s more evolved than a collection of pretty, perfect pictures over the last few years has driven the creation of unlikely, yet unforgettable, Indian campaigns. So, a photograph of Jim Sarbh wearing an ornate Shantanu&Nikhil wedding sherwani, while tearing through a piece of bread is not entirely unexpected. It is, however, arresting.

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A post shared by Shantanu & Nikhil (@shantanunikhil) on Mar 28, 2019 at 5:43am PDT

The face of ‘Imperfectly Complete’, Sarbh taps into five emotions—greed, delusion, lust, envy and pride—to slip into the more relatable mojris of a modern Indian groom for this S&N campaign. On offsetting the almost saccharine, forced happiness, with wedding experiences that are more human, more primal, the actor says, “I guess it adds on nicely to the end of Made In Heaven. I can imagine being in these stressful family situations and trying to be the good person, the good groom, and, once that’s done, going to your room, locking the door and eating like a pig, I just imagined this side of weddings you wouldn’t normally see.”

Nikhil says it is a systematic deconstruction of the expectations on the Indian groom. “Why is it that that a man, all of a sudden, has to become the perfect man? What about the person he was before getting married? We wanted to focus on the present realities of a man and how they co-exist with his new realities that come with being married.” He continues, “We’re not fighting against those pre-wedding realities; we’re embracing them.”

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A post shared by Shantanu & Nikhil (@shantanunikhil) on Mar 29, 2019 at 5:48am PDT

Each of the visuals of this digital campaign is accompanied by a poem that peels back the layers of these more complicated emotions. Lust, for instance, is introduced by the lines: “Let there be love, and lust be there too. You be there for me, as I be there for you. Losing inhibitions, exploring the world together, the one we live in and the one we keep inside ourselves, let love be there in both, and lust be too.”

On the creative process that guided the campaign, Nikhil says, “We prepared this photo shoot a little differently to our others; we had emotion cue cards for Jim—envy was an emotion, lust was an emotion—that served as prompts for him.” Jim adds, “To get into that mood, I picked a song for each emotion.  For Lust, it was Cream by Prince, Envy was I Want You by Elvis Presley, and anger was Negative Creep by Nirvana.”

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A post shared by Shantanu & Nikhil (@shantanunikhil) on Mar 28, 2019 at 5:52am PDT

Bit by bit, then, the pieces came together—between Shantanu and Nikhil’s vision and Jim’s easy irreverence, the trio have manifested the imperfectly complete groom. The magic of it all, however, is that he’s always been there; you just weren’t looking hard enough. 

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