It Is All For Box-office!
A Bollywood buff since its bygone era, I have been wondering what a sea change advertising has gone through in the industry since the early years of Hindi cinema. No way the stars were ever involved with promotion of their pictures. Even the producers also never promoted their movies the way they do now. Their promotion participation was limited to well attended “Mahurat” or launch party, thereafter its music release event and finally a full fanfare premier. And now they just had to wait for the viewers' verdict and box-office returns on their investment. The film industry had a simple marketing formula – sign in a superstar, rope in a renowned music composer, ride on a 'masala' recipe and success was there for the taking. Advertising was entirely left to the distributors and exhibitors, who did it by putting billboards and posters of their forthcoming films on the city streets and the cinema halls where the film was to be released, apart from exhibiting some weeks in advance stills from the film in the lobby of the theaters. As time progressed, they started showing trailer of the film with the movie currently running. That was it as far as film promotion went.
That was then, now it is entirely a different scenario. Bollywood is going through a crazy trend of promotional era where the stars are beating each other in the race to promote their respective films. They have to adopt new and interactive ways to promote their pictures.. Star's promotion of movies is a must today, as much as his good performance in it. Most of the time they are under the producer's pressure to do uncommon things to promote their movies. If one is doing it, then another has to do it as well because it becomes an expectation for the audience to watch such things. From reading news on a TV channel, launching a nationwide hunt for unsung heroes or traveling to different parts of the country in disguise – Bollywood stars are leaving no stone unturned to promote their pictures. Here are some interesting examples:
Aamir Khan embarked on a two- week country tour called Bharat Darshan in disguise in different get-ups as part of his unique way of promoting “3 Idiots”. The actor also created a secret identity on social networking website Facebook to connect with the audiences. The result was “3 Idiots” has been declared the biggest hit ever to gross over Rs 100 worldwide in first 4days of its release. Apparently this was not the first time the actor had opted for such a strategy in order to gain momentum and create buzz for a film. Earlier he even turned barber for his fans to promote his blockbuster hit “Ghajini”, offering people his “Ghajini” haircut.
Megastar Amitabh Bachchan who plays the role of media magnet Vijay Harshwardhan Malik in the movie “Rann” also innovated with methods of film promotion and appeared on a TV channel to do a year-end news roundup, while director Ram Gopal Verma launched a 10-page daily newspaper called Rann Times as a way to promote the same film.
“Good marketing has produced good results at the box-office. That old belief that the merit of the film shall eventually emerge victorious has long since been overridden. By the time you wait for the merit to show its face, five other films have shown their merit”, Amitabh Bachchan posted on his blog.
Amitabh Bachchan also turned guest principal of colleges across the countries for “Arakshan”. As if to follow his famous father's footsteps, Abhishek Bachchan tried his hand at the fad when he broke the Guinness world record for maximum public appearances in 12 hours while promoting his “Delhi-6”.
Salman Khan did not stay behind and followed Big B and Amir Khan and launched a nationwide hunt for unsung heroes to connect with the masses and to promote his period film “Veer”. The hunt for young men and women who have performed heroic deeds which the nation didn't know about was also an effort by the actor in bridge-building and improving his image amongst the masses. It surely seems to have paid off, if not for “Veer”, for his susequent big blockbusters, making him the most sought after superstar.
“If they can do, why can't I”, must have come to Shahrukh Khan's mind. To promote his most favorite film ever, “Ra-One”, he became a salesman in partnership with Homeshop 18, and was seen by one and all, selling original merchandise of the film.
Following the example of their seniors, Shahid Kapoor and Genelia D'Souza spent a night together in a car, while actress Neha Dhupia threw condoms at a college crowd – all this to publicize their films. After these unusual activities were successful in creating a positive buzz around the films, it has now triggered a new race for fresh and more aggressive marketing methods. Shahid Kapoor reportedly turned weather forecaster for a day to promote his film Mausam. Mallika Sherawat made jalebis to promote the song Jalebi bai for Double Dhamaal. Ekta Kapoor promoted naughty threesome parties during the promotions of Ragini MMS. Ranbir Kapoor milked cows to promote Rockstar. Tusshar Kapoor turned bootlegger and earned money from selling books on the streets for the promotion of Shor In The City. Especially after the vast expansion of TV network, the actors are seen doing all sorts of publicity on the small screen, like appearing and even dancing on the popular television shows and doing any and every action to promote their future films. And with the importance given to marketing and promotions, no one’s blaming them. From tattoos to haircuts, merchandise to trips to the most interior areas of India, actors and actresses are leaving no stone unturned to publicize their film well before it releases. Who says only films can be entertaining? The antics and promotion gimmicks used by film stars to promote their flicks has become even more amusing and entertaining. Wonder does this really pay? The answer maybe yes, the hike they create rakes in huge opening weekend returns. And this is all that matters and makes everyone happy. So, why wonder if stars become salesmen, after all it is all for box-office.