Dreams need an introduction too!
It is supposed to be a prelude to a dream. But film promotion in Bollywood is fast becoming a dream unto itself.
CREATING CURIOSITY SaharaOne Motion Pictures has come up with a broadband video website for its forthcoming release "Home Delivery"
`Manisha Koirala Killed'. One fine afternoon in 1994, Mumbaiites were shocked to see this headline in a local eveninger, only to giggle later when it turned out to be a publicity gimmick for Mahesh Bhatt's "Criminal". A decade hence the intent remains the same, only the medium has evolved. Today Pritish Nandy Communications uses Multimedia Messaging Service or MMS to promote its latest release "Ek Khiladi Ek Hasina" where riding on recent sleazy MMS episodes, some steamy scenes of Fardeen Khan and Koena Mitra from the film are being used to engage eyeballs. Pritish Nandy calls it an innovative marketing platform. He has reportedly said, "No medium is good or bad. We are getting an overdose of hoardings and TV promos. One needs to be creative with new public relations ideas."
Huzefa Lokhandwala, who leads the new-age publicity brigade that is sleek and imaginary, says MMS is an option, it depends on us how we use it. As for the talk about the promo of an A-certificate film reaching children, for MMS is easily accessible these days, Huzefa says, "Filtration of content is a larger issue and includes television and the Internet."
Recently Ram Gopal Varma, who has a tie-up with BSNL's Mauj, used the platform to promote his "Sarkar" successfully. He says, "The idea is to tease the audience to expect more from the film. A good promo should capture the spirit of the film. We keep on changing the promos, introducing characters towards the release so that the audience remains engrossed."
Milking the technology, SaharaOne Motion Pictures has created a broadband video website for its forthcoming release "Home Delivery" where actors Boman Irani, Vivek Oberoi and Ayesha Takia could be seen talking and introducing their characters.
This interplay of media, however, knows no bars. Just before the release of "Bunty aur Babli", Abhishek Bachchan and Rani Mukerjee were seen reading news on a news channel. Gone are the days when a cooked-up romantic link up between the lead actors was the only means to get some quick publicity. Sources say today producers are spending 10 to 20 per cent of the budget on publicity. And those who don't have the sums are morphing pictures, as in the case of "Bad Friends" or distributing some selected hot ones as with Aruna Raje's "Tum".
For Huzefa ultimately it is the content that decides the success of the film. "Good promos can't make a bad film successful. At the same time a good film can get more than the expected success through some good promotion. He presents the example of Gaurang Doshi's "Deewar". "It was one of the longest and highly stylish promos in the Hindi cinema. Released a year before the film's release, the two-and-a-half-minute promo created a high amount of curiosity value among the audience. In fact, the film was not completely shot when the promos went on air. It helped the filmmaker raise money from the market." However, according to Huzefa, this hyper publicity could win only a good initial. For it could not match the promos. "The promos should attract the target audience. We have just 30 seconds to tell the story so we can make things pacy, but the film should also match the pace. Then there is always a dilemma which shots to use and which to hide. At times viewers get the feeling the promos were better than the film."
Hide and seek
How this hide and seek business affects the prospects was recently seen when Shah Rukh's presence in the promos of "Kaal" helped a weak script face the box office tides, while Khalid Mohamed's strategy to use him as a surprise element in "Silsiilay" backfired. Varma admits his "Naach" failed because he told the viewers too much through the promos. "It was a simple story without many surprise elements, so the audience might have felt they already knew this." Post "Dhoom" there has been a trend of using standalone songs to promote films. If "Dhoom" rocked the expectation charts courtesy the Tata Young number much before the release, "Kaal" surpassed all expectations with the Shah Rukh-Malaika Arora song. Recently "Dus" thrived largely on "Dus Bahane". All these songs were used as part of either start or end credits. Tata Young made the audience swoon much after John Abraham met his fate in the film. Similarly Amitabh Bachchan kept the audience rooted to their seats with his rap act in "Bunty aur Babli". Huzefa calls it product packaging, giving people value for money. However it doesn't work every time. The other day the Riya Sen number failed to add any zing to the prospects of "James". "The idea was good, implementation weak," says Rohit Jugraj, director of "James". Rohit says the song should be exceptionally good to catch the imagination of the viewers. He doesn't consider it as a gimmick to cheat the viewers. "This has been a worldwide trend. James Bond films always have such numbers. To me what amounts to cheating is when the shots shown in the promotion are not used in the film." Something the Bhatt Camp used without results in "Rog". "It is not cheating. Publicity pictures could be a separate entity. It is just that a section of our viewers are not visually literate to understand the difference," counters Huzefa.
Mahesh Bhatt, who is a master at publicising his product - the "Nazar" episode being the latest one - says, "Some kind of gratification is necessary to sell the cerebral. What are film stars doing in political parties or cricketers in advertisements?"
And what does it mean for actors? For some like Katrina Kaif it could amount to a reality check. "My role in Boom had different nuances but the promos presented me just as a hip shaking beauty." For others like Manisha Koirala and Meghna Naidu it becomes a time to take action. In between there are many who are just loving it!
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