Vidya Manmohan
Vidya Manmohan Image Credit: Supplied

In an extraordinary year when our ordinary lives have been turned upside down by the pandemic, it is the human stories of positivity and support that have endeared us during the months of isolation. People, companies, businesses all over the world have dealt with such a difficult time with empathy, finding ways to foster community spirit through simple meaningful gestures.

For the UAE’s 49th National Day celebrations, UAE resident Vidya Manmohan, founder and creative chairwoman of V4good — a creative agency built around collaboration — has tapped on this spirit of togetherness through a special four-minute film she has produced.

‘Ma’an’ (meaning “together” in Arabic) showcases the proud residents of the UAE and their favourite brands and how we can support one another even through small gestures to make a difference.

“Every gesture — signifying solidarity, tolerance and compassion in the film witnesses the release of a balloon in either red, green, white or black, collectively rising up into the sky to create the UAE National flag. The entire country is seen looking up with pride to this phenomenon,” says Manmohan.

The film will be revealed across social media channels to coincide with the 49th UAE National Day.

Having lived in the country for 45 years, Manmohan calls herself, “made in the UAE”.

“I owe everything to this land. So I wanted to show my support and solidarity for the country that does so much for its people. Though the unprecedented pandemic was already creating road blocks for celebrations, I thought there had to be a way we could still rejoice this milestone. And that’s how the idea was born,” she says.

The film showcases UAE’s home-grown brands, such as technology company Wavelogix, the country’s first active lifestyle footwear brand Puca, its first dairy — the Al Ain Farms, the local NGO Manzil Centre for children with special needs, as well as international names such as Mediclinc Middle East, Betty Crocker, Disney BYJU’s, Honeywell and Ecolabs.

“Instead of the brands telling their individual stories, it was important to show how they stand together to make our lives better,” explains Manmohan who has won many local and international awards and is a regular on the jury panel of international advertising festivals like the Cannes Lions, Clio, Adfest, to name a few.

Manmohan says she saw the potential to tell the stories of these brands that have touched people’s lives in different ways. “In the film, the nine brands stand shoulder to shoulder, sharing the space with each other, and they celebrate together as a collective society. For the first time I think it did not matter that a product was not being promoted. It has been a coming-together story to show the unity of these brands and that itself is a celebration,” she explains.

The film has been shot across the UAE on a shoestring budget.

“It wouldn’t have been possible to work on the film without the drive and talent of UAE filmmaker Sachin Ramdas. The film also features and supports Manzil Center, a special needs foundation that believes in creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We are hoping that people will come forward to support the great work that they’re doing. To do our part, we plan to donate the proceeds from the painting featured in the film to the foundation,” says Manmohan.