On 13 November, Google India posted a three-minute advertisement on YouTube titled Google Search: Reunion. In the span of only two days it reached nearly one and a half million views and as of this writing is swiftly approaching four million.

All along the way, it’s received overwhelmingly positive reviews such as “NOT just an ad”; “This little 3 minute video is better than all the movies I have seen this past year”; and  “I am not from India, but I still appear to have something in my eye that is making it water.”

The plot of the commercial is simple enough even if you aren’t familiar with the events circa 1947 regarding the separation/creation of the independent states of India and Pakistan. Also, the emotion it evokes is clear and universally easy to understand.

An elderly Indian man, Mr. Mehra is talking to his granddaughter about Yusef, an old friend he had in Lahore when he was a child. The two were very close but when the partition of India happened they were suddenly torn apart. He had come to India while his friend stayed in what is now Pakistan.

Afterwards, using a few key words from her grandfather’s story, the young woman is able to use Google to pinpoint where he and his friend once played.

She then makes a phone call and finds Yusef at a bakery in Lahore. Cut to a hot Google action montage as she and a male Pakistani counterpart use the search engine in all its might to arrange a meeting between the two.

Then on Mr. Mehra’s  birthday, a knock at the door is heard. The once partitioned friends are now reunited.

The storyline of two friends reuniting isn’t mind-blowingly original but something about this, perhaps the acting or the events behind it, makes it incredibly touching. I would criticize the excessive use of Google throughout this ad, but after thinking about it, I probably use Google as much as they do in an average day too.

There were some critical comments on YouTube by people from India and Pakistan who harbored some resentments towards the other country over past incidents of violence. If anything, it shows how the emotional impact of the events triggered 50 years ago are still alive today.

In 1947, the British Empire surrendered control over the British Indian Empire. In what many say was a rushed plan, Muslims were given a state in Pakistan and the remaining religious denominations were to stay in India. This resulted in a sudden mass migration of around 14 million people going both ways across the border, many on foot. If you’d like to learn more about the partition of India, you could always use a search engine. Anyone know of a good one?

Source: YouTube – Google India via Net Lab (Japanese)