With nearly a million YouTube views over two days, a new Google ad that tells the story of two old friends reuniting after six decades of separation following the creation of India and Pakistan in 1947 has touched a deep nerve for many South Asians – and has them reaching for the nearest tissue box.
“Just saw my co-worker crying after seeing the #GoogleReunion Ad. We Indians, such suckers for emotions,” tweeted one user from Noida, India.
The storyline is one that is familiar to an aging generation of Indians and Pakistanis who can remember the traumatic events that led to the uprooting of more than 10 million people and sent them moving to their new homes – whether in Pakistan or India.
The ad – which was posted on Wednesday and is intended to promote Google Search and its ability to connect people – tells the story of childhood friends Yusuf and Baldev in pre-partition Lahore, a city that would eventually become part of Pakistan.
Baldev recounts to his granddaughter his memories of kite-flying and stealing sweets with his friend Yusuf – until Baldev and his family, who are Hindu, are forced to migrate to Delhi.
Listening to her grandfather’s story, the young woman does a bit of detective work using the Google Search function to find the park and the old gate – one of a dozen leading in to the walled city of Lahore – and the sweet shop that is now run by Yusuf.
Phone calls are made, airline tickets are purchased, and a surprise reunion is arranged in time for Baldev’s birthday – as the ad ends with the old friends being showered by a monsoon rain in Delhi.
The ad has resonated with viewers on both sides of the border and across generations.
“Beautiful ad, more beautiful is the thought, hope this in someway finds peace between the countries. #GoogleReunion,” tweeted Srinivas Varma of Hyderabad, India.
“What the governments of India and Pakistan could not achieve – Google nailed it under 4 minutes. What stands between friendship is the filthy mindset of politicians. May friendships on both sides grow over and above the narrow-mindedness of politics,” 31-year-old Pakistani Raja Mohammad of Lahore said on his Facebook page.
Pakistan and India have been engaged in peace talks that are moving slowly. The two countries have gone to war three times.
Hostilities between Pakistani and Indian soldiers are routine along the Line of Control that separates divided and disputed Kashmir. India has long alleged that Pakistan is supporting militants who cross into India to carry out attacks, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The ad does not touch on another aspect of the end of British colonial rule that led to the creation of Pakistan and India: the bloody riots and communal violence that resulted in hundreds of thousands dead – with some estimates as high as two million.