Siraj Jhaveri lives up to his Indian name with, for example, a festive, outrageously detailed and choreographed Bollywood-style spot for Orbit gum, in which a forlorn husband weeds out his lost wife from a dancing bevy of beauties, via just her pearly whites. He's also got a Bollywood-style clip for Laurent Garnier's "The Man with the Red Face," and amusingly heartfelt promos for MTV India, featuring a man who gets slapped silly at the barbershop and a sprightly boy who wanders through Bombay streets singing and dancing as he sells chai. But the fact is, though his parents are Indian natives, Jhaveri, 31, was born in Pennsylvania, raised in the U.K., and is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.
His Orbit spot was truly a labor of love; "I had a 50-page PowerPoint presentation for this commercial, because I wanted to bring this attention to detail, to be as authentic as possible. You look at it and see new things each time, and I think that sort of repeat viewing is a pleasure." His meticulousness extends to videotaping his spots before the actual shoot day, when possible, and on set he likes to digitize and pre-edit everything as it's captured on camera. "I want the clients and the agency to feel really comfortable and know that I've thought of everything, because I like to have spontaneous moments happen. Going in with everything rendered at every step makes everyone feel safe, and then we can be funny and spontaneous."
Jhaveri's sensibility also bears the edge of anyone raised in the MTV generation. One spot for Sony Playstation captures the mad choreography of groovesters during an impromptu underground danceoff, sans the cheese factor that could easily ooze from such a feel-good scenario. There's also a dark, comedic Russian spot for Inobat batteries, where a flailing boxer emerges from his torpor to bust out some breakdancing moves. Outside of spots, Jhaveri directed an introspective documentary, Ma Baap, about his parents' divorce and is currently working on two features, including one with Monsoon Wedding screenwriter Sabrina Dhawan. "One of the overall ambitions of my career is to simply be a filmmaker," he says. "I don't really want to be a commercials or music video or feature film director - just a filmmaker. I try to keep an open mind to all the formats."