The Bollywood Hard-sell | Culture | Times Crest
Popular on Times Crest
  • In This Section
  • Entire Website
  • When his brain exploded
    July 20, 2013
    One day the ticking time bomb in Ashok Rajamani's head went off. In an 'anti-Oprah' memoir, he talks about how he put his life…
  • Quirky, indie, edgy - the new mainstream
    July 13, 2013
    Bollywood is incapable of being quirky in the real sense of the word. It now simply uses the adjective as a marketing tag.
  • TV now an epic expense
    July 13, 2013
    Goodbye cardboard arrows and imitation jewels. With historical and mythological shows going big budget, viewers have been left enthralled by the…
More in this Section
Profiles
Leaving tiger watching to raise rice Ecologist Debal Deb, who did his post-doctoral research from IISc in…
The crorepati writer He's the man who gives Big B his lines. RD Tailang, the writer of KBC.
Chennai-Toronto express Review Raja is a Canadian enthusiast whose quirky video reviews of Tamil…
Don't parrot, perform Maestro Buddhadev Dasgupta will hold a masterclass on ragas.
A man's man Shivananda Khan spent his life speaking up for men who have sex with men.
Bhowmick and the first family of Indian football At first glance, it would be the craziest set-up in professional football.
From Times Blogs
The end of Detroit
Jobs in Detroit's car factories are moving to India.
Chidanand Rajghatta
How I love the word ‘dobaara’...
Can ‘bindaas’ or ‘jhakaas’ survive transliteration?
Shobhaa De
Anand marte nahin...
India's first superstar died almost a lonely life.
Robin Roy
Clever marketing and Bollywood

The Bollywood Hard-sell

|



Whether it's playing housie with housewives or spooking journos with fake ghosts, the Bollywood hype machine is in top gear.

All this month, Vidya Balan was busy promoting her latest movie Ghanchakkar. She came dressed in the most bizarre outfits - the kind that should get her stylist fired, if not fined. According to the film's director Raj Kumar Gupta, the colourful outfits were part of an artfully-planned publicity gimmick, designed to capture maximum eyeballs. "Vidya's character wears garish clothes in Ghanchakkar. We thought if she is in get-up at events it would add a touch of relatability, " Gupta says. "The idea was to stay true to the film and yet have a smart crack at marketing. " In another event, Gupta's marketing team invited housewives for a game of housie. And if the rain hadn't played spoilsport, Vidya would have hosted a kitty party, too.

Ghanchakkar is not the only film that leans on clever marketing. For their recent horror flick Ek Thi Daayan, producers Ekta Kapoor and Vishal Bhardwaj gave Mumbai's Film City a spooky makeover for a night event. Recalls a journalist, "It was pitch dark and we were being driven to the venue by car. There were some extras dressed as ghosts on trees. Suddenly, a female reporter saw a figure in white. After a brief moment of shock, she realised it was a gimmick. We had a good laugh about it. " Later, Ek Thi Daayan's hero Emraan Hashmi amused the media with magic tricks. Similarly, Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai 2's trailer launch took place on a set resembling a Muslim mohalla while the makers of Aurangzeb held a press meet at a construction site to underscore the film's real estate theme. Then, there was the strikingly pregnant Vidya Balan of Kahaani searching for her missing husband at Khar railway station. During Raaz 3, Bipasha Basu distributed lemon and chillies - an old superstitious practice - among auto drivers while Abhishek Bachchan hawked tickets at a multiplex for Bol Bachchan.

Pretty much every Hindi film now relies on innovative marketing to attract wide audience. Top studio sparks and bright, MBAholding marketers who are driving the newage Bollywood hard-sell, feel that live events and long campaigns in the build-up to a film's release grab more eyeballs than oldfashioned print publicity. Much has changed since the game shifted to social media and other digital platforms. In a world of shrinking attention spans, only the visual experience lasts, Gupta says. "People live busy lives and unless you get them interested they are not going to buy tickets that easily, " he says. So how do you lure them? "You can't call a press conference and have the same routine - 'Can you tell us about the film?/ What is your role?' Instead, do a packed event in a mall and let your cast interact with the audience in an entertaining manner. Everyone has a good time and it ends with the audience remembering the event. Chances are they may actually go to see the film. "
That explains why studios, filmmakers, stars and marketers alike use ingenious tricks to persuade fans. All aggressive marketing is solely aimed at that much-abused trade term called 'the opening weekend'. "If you achieve that, " says filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, "you have made it home".

By any measure, it was 2008's Ghajini that redefined Bollywood hype. A ubiquitous Aamir Khan carpet-bombed the market with his quirky ideas which included turning hairstylist for a day. With 3 Idiots, he took Brand Aamir to another level. Like his character Rancho, he went missing and was found in Benaras, disguised as an old man. Later, 3 Idiots out-grossed all previous blockbusters. Probably, Aamir's mantra seems quite close to Sydney Greenstreet's in The Hucksters. "Irritate them, " Greenstreet, a fastidious client, commands his ad agency. "Irritate, irritate, irritate, knock them dead, " he says, referring to American consumers.

Mahesh Bhatt who is often accused of being an unabashed self-promoter, quotes another famous refrain to make his case: "Giving twist to an Abraham Lincoln line, the Hollywood mogul Joseph E Levine said, 'You can fool all the people all the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough'. He believed that clever marketing can make even a mediocre film successful. "

Like Aamir, Bhatt gets deeply involved in marketing strategies of his films. For 2004's Murder, he instructed Mallika Sherawat to seduce the audience. "She made statements like, 'I am a Viagra'. It worked, " Bhatt says. These provocative remarks were deliberate. "The same was true of Jism where we emphasised lust, not love. "

Bhatt calls his small and medium-sized quickies "high concept, non-star cast films" that combine elements of noir, thriller and erotica. His approach to marketing changed after 2007's Awarapan, produced under his banner Vishesh Films. "Although a good film it got smothered by Himesh Reshammiya's Aap Kaa Surroor. That's when we realised you can make the best film but if you can't excite the audience it means nothing. " Bhatt decided to hit the reset button as far as marketing went. For instance, Aashiqui 2 was pitched to the family market, a constituency the Bhatts had overlooked since the 1990s. "Our first press release of Aashiqui 2 said it all - 'No nude is good news. '"

However, regardless of a film's advertising budget, Bhatt says the most effective buzz is word-of-mouth - an endorsement that usually comes at little or no cost. He says Arth and Saaransh, his critically-acclaimed early films, enjoyed upbeat press coverage.

"We showed Saaransh to journalists months in advance,"he says. "They liked the film and became its ambassadors. "

Other Times Group news sites
The Times of India | The Economic Times
इकनॉमिक टाइम्स | ઈકોનોમિક ટાઈમ્સ
Mumbai Mirror | Times Now
Indiatimes | नवभारत टाइम्स
महाराष्ट्र टाइम्स
Living and entertainment
Timescity | iDiva | Bollywood | Zoom
| Technoholik | MensXP.com

Networking

itimes | Dating & Chat | Email
Hot on the Web
Hotklix
Services
Book print ads | Online shopping | Business solutions | Book domains | Web hosting
Business email | Free SMS | Free email | Website design | CRM | Tenders | Remit
Cheap air tickets | Matrimonial | Ringtones | Astrology | Jobs | Property | Buy car
Online Deals
About us | Advertise with us | Terms of Use and Grievance Redressal Policy | Privacy policy | Feedback
Copyright© 2010 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service