Apple glimpses the future in lavish 30-minute film from India, shot on iPhone by Vishal Bhardwaj

Will the ‘Doordarshak’ be the big reveal at the brand’s next developers’ conference?

Published On
Feb 02, 2023
The main couple in Apple's new "Fursat" short film from India

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Apple hasn’t yet made a device that can see into the future. And maybe that’s a good thing, judging by all the complications such a gadget would unleash in the world.

Just look at Apple’s new marketing showpiece—an opulent and pleasantly zany 30-minute film created in India by the celebrated director Vishal Bhardwaj. In classic Bollywood style, it’s a romance at its core. But it’s also a cautionary tale about technology gone wrong—an interesting choice for the world’s biggest tech marketer.

At the center of the story is a young man who can see into the future, Dead Zone-style, thanks to a funky homemade device called the “Doordarshak.” His obsession with the device is putting a strain on his relationship with his girlfriend, a doctor who’s clearly in love with him but is getting tired of his adolescent ways.

This sets the stage for a completely enjoyable 30-minute musical, replete with love, treachery and an ending that suggests maybe just living in the present (another thing our omnipresent devices tend to hinder) is better than always gazing at tomorrow.

Come to think of it, Apple doesn’t make a defibrillator, either.

The piece was produced by TBWA\Media Arts Lab Singapore. As usual with these short films shot on iPhone, the onscreen branding here is limited to the occasional iPhone call. Though of course Apple is always lurking in the background thanks to the opening title, “Shot on iPhone 14 Pro.”

This was Bhardwaj’s first time shooting on iPhone, and he predictably gushes about its capabilities in a behind-the-scenes video. “The mood we’ve achieved is because of the combination of iPhone’s strengths, which is not possible to achieve on a normal film camera,” he said. “I’ve never had this kind of scale in my film ever before. I thought this is the film in which leaves, wind, snow, mist, fog … let’s use everything.”

Of the phone’s Action Mode, he added: “It’s unbelievable that such shaky visuals can be stabilized so much. This I have never seen.”

Swapnil Sonawane, director of photography for the film, added: “From the extreme toplight that we shot in the desert to the low light that we subjected it to, I think it performed phenomenally well. ... The way Cinematic mode shifts focus is the way my focus puller would. It’s an emotional shift focus, which is what was absolutely beautiful about it.”

A few other production notes... 

In addition to directing, Bhardwaj composed the music. The lyrics were written by Gulzar, one of India’s best-known poets. Shiamak Davar choreographed all the dance sequences. The lead roles were played by Ishaan Khattar and Wamiqa Gabi.

TBWA\Media Arts Lab is on a roll with the Apple short films lately. This one follows a piece from the agency’s Shanghai office, directed by acclaimed Chinese director Peng Fei, for Lunar New Year.