Marketing a Film or Begging to Sell?
Neither bereft of wealth nor suffering a want, yet film celebrities nowadays hop, step and jump across television studios, radio stations and newspaper offices “begging” everyone to see their new film. Possibly, you could also find these “poor workers” gracing college campuses or waltzing through malls and bazaars with fervent pleas to crowds to watch their latest movie.
In stark contrast to yesteryears, present day celebrities “invade” our private abodes with folded hands, emotionally blackmailing the consumers into buying tickets of their fresh cinematic creation. If they remind some of pesky insurance agents, the assumptions are not too far off the mark!
Like puritans deride T20 cricket as pajama circus, veteran film practitioners too find these attempts to woo audiences as inane buffoonery. Though these new age calisthenics cost a fortune, yet there is no proof that the returns on investment commensurate with the expenses made on stalwarts. Nevertheless, this form of film advertisement is now well entrenched in Bollywood but looking to the fate of “Bombay Velvet”, “Thugs of Hindostan”, “Zero”, “Welcome to New York” and “Namaste England”, it is evident that costly marketing campaigns alone cannot ensure box office successes! 
Except where a quid pro quo is involved, filmmakers pay TV channels or production houses, radio stations and print media for various publicity and marketing related interactions. Apart from taking a sizeable fee for their appearances, well established stars also get payments for costumes, travel and various other related fees. In fact, apart from remuneration for acting, stars nowadays stipulate specific charges in contracts to promote a new release.
Filmmaking has always been a crown of thorns and distribution too an ordeal but now the promotion of a new film is a gargantuan circus! Unlike earlier times, film publicity nowadays requires enormous fortitude, patience and deep pockets. While the usual movie hall trailers, street posters, hoardings and newspaper ads still hold good, the fad is exclusive interviews on TV, radio and newspapers, social campaigns and brand endorsements alongside corporate inaugurations, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook linked campaigns, web chats as well as participation in reality show contests. But the question is whether all these really help bring in audiences to the movie theatres?
In a recent conversation with this writer, noted filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt opined that in an era of miniscule attention spans, everyone seeks to “grab eyeballs of the consumer” since “only that sells which is seen”. As films are now produced in gross numbers like factory-finished goods, such promotions are intended to make a film’s name heard in the market place. But what is preposterous is that nearly 20%-25% of a film budget is now spent upon its promotion and big banners spend nearly ten to fifteen crores of rupees on publicity and promotion. 
With unhealthy cartels also stifling the exhibition arena, the misery of small filmmakers is compounded since they need at least Rs2 crore to just push their films in public gaze. A strange paradox that though many small budget films get made within a Rs3 crore budget, yet they need a much higher spend to remind the audiences of their existence!
 What a far cry from the earlier times when film advertising was a simple ritual.
Once the release date was decided, illustrators would be assigned to design a few posters of the film. Carrying pictures and names of the leading actors, the posters would also include names of prominent contributors to the creative content of the film. Thereafter, producers would print several thousand posters of the impending film and send them to various territories for display at strategic places.
Additionally, big producers would also book 15-minute slots on Radio Ceylon (now Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation) or Vividh Bharati to unravel major songs and dialogues of the film. However, the most popular manner of publicity was to deploy local “vocalists” in every town who would then go around in cycle rickshaws, Tongas (horse carriages) and autos, fitted with battery operated loud speakers, announcing the virtues of an impending film. Since most films drew strength from their songs, the local anchors would also play the film’s songs via turntable in between their high-pitched announcements.  
(Courtesy: Pinterest)
The above description may look quite primitive and pathetic to modern audiences, yet they effectively drew people to cinema halls, ensuring silver and golden jubilee runs for many movies. Of course, the old world formulae of a few thousand rupees cannot be applied today, nevertheless, what is certainly questionable is whether the modern cacophonic tricks are delivering qualitative and quantitative results to the spenders? 
To me personally, the various marketing and promotional events now reek of hackneyed routines that are extremely annoying and insulting to basic intelligence.
The older stars had an aura since they were not so frequently visible and hence, audiences looked forward to their new releases.
The overdose of modern celebrities hanging everywhere from social media to consumer advertising and cricket matches to political rallies is offending in more ways than one and the sooner film stars realise that familiarity breeds contempt, the better it would be for them and their industry. 
Producers too must pay greater attention to story content rather than marketing gimmicks of "begging bowls" as probably, just a couple of enthralling trailers on media platforms could arouse massive public interest. 
Hollywood films are now making a huge dent in Indian box office collections despite little awareness of the lives of their stars in smaller towns of our nation.
Perhaps there is a lesson to learn for Indian filmmakers that a good product never fails to impact and the praise by word of mouth is a greater surety of success than all the publicity stunts of marketing!
(Deepak Mahaan is a well-known Documentary Film Maker, Writer and Commentator).
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    1 year ago

    Prime example is Bahubali movie. They did not do single promotional event still it was huge hit

    Ankit Sharma

    1 year ago

    Excellent article. Today's films are bad products packaged in attractive material.


    1 year ago

    Well put.

    However, one thing remains unchanged. whatever is the education or job or age or wealth of Indians they are still slaves to Cinema and Cricket.


    Nasir Ahmed Rayadurg

    In Reply to AAR 1 year ago

    agree on the education observation. I can't think any other reason for people to be so servile to Cinema and Cricket. If they can spend 20% of that effort in building new skills, relationships and learning, they would vastly improve their personal economic status and spend far less time in watching useless movies (with zero content and substance)

    'GoT' season 8 premiere teases an epic wrap
    A reunion, a revelation, a love affair and a gruesome killing -- the final season of the hugely popular show "Game of Thrones" kicked off, setting the tone for a berserk finale with big twists, sinister plotting, backstabbing and a lot of blood.
    It was a moment fans had been waiting for since 2017 after the seventh season left many questions unanswered. The GoT mania took Indian fans by storm in the days leading to its final season opener, as pointed out by internal data at Instagram, India.
    India emerged as the fourth country globally where users are most excited about the fantasy series and it is the only Asian country to feature in the top five. As per Taboola, Daenerys and Jon Snow are the most read characters with 843,600 and 705,000 readers respectively.
    According to a Myntra spokesperson, fans in India are "seizing every token that is symbolic of their favourite show especially through dedicated merchandise".
    The show, based on George R.R. Martin's novels, and created by David Benioff and Dan Weiss, began in 2011.
    The last seasons left fans guessing; How will Jon Snow find out that he is not the bastard son of Ned Stark? What turn will Jon and his aunt Daenerys' relationship take? Where will Jaime Lannister go next? What's Cersei's next move? Who will kill the Night King? Who will die? And who will sit on the Iron Throne? 
    The first episode of season 8, which premiered internationally on April 14 and was brought to India along with the US through Hotstar Premium on Monday morning, tries to answer some of the questions that have lingered on. Titled "Winterfell", the pilot is written by Dave Hill and directed by David Nutter, who brought the infamous "Red Wedding" alive on the screen. 
    After a revised opening title sequence -- with the spotlight on Winterfell, King's Landing and the influence of White Walkers in the narrative, the show which made its debut with sprawling complicated issues, narrowed down to two main spots and the 'great war' against the 'undead'. 
    But the makers don't seem to be in the mood to be prude on those myriad affairs as Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) says, "We don't have time for this. The Night King has your dragon. The Wall has fallen. The dead march south." 
    The episode kicks off with Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) marching into Winterfell with her army and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) by her side. 
    The emotional quotient was high with reunions of many characters seeing each other for the first time in years -- Jon Snow and Arya/Bran Stark, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and Gendry, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Arya Stark and The Hound, and Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bran Stark. 
    The show has stepped up its pace to end the story -- be it through Cersei (Lena Headey) plotting to kill her brothers after the war, the army of undead White Walkers bringing destruction, Jaime turning his back on his love and his sister Cersei, Jon Snow finding the truth about his true lineage and claim to the Iron Throne by his best friend Samwell Tarly. 
    The makers have also hinted that Jon Snow is already on the path to embrace his truth when he rides one of the dragons.
    It seems the story of "Game of Thrones" has come a full circle, especially the moment Jaime meets Bran. 
    There were moments of embrace in the winter love land as well, thanks to Daenerys and Snow. 
    Amid the alliances, plenty of suspicion and getting ready to go to war, Tyrion sums up the message of the final season -- "We must fight together now, or die."
    In the end, one gets a sense that the creative forces behind the series have started to piece together the puzzle, but also gives out a message that it won't be a happy ending after all. How? Because the first episode ends with one death. Oops! But don't worry, it isn't any of the main characters.
    The show will find its way on Star World on Tuesday.
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  • User 

    Digital Content Renders Cinematograph Act Obsolete
    When a fad invades India, it does so in hordes. May it be mobile manufacturers, car makers, and so on and so forth. But, now, we have a line-up of streaming content providers. They enjoy an open, unhindered run on your small screens.
    Usually, the films with family entertainment, RomComs or mildly plausible action films work (Salman Khan types). The religious and saas bahu family themes have been hijacked by television channels. Presently, though suddenly, we are now into this genre called nationalism/patriotism and biopics. But, that market is flooded and all future announcements for forthcoming films seem to be on patriotism and biopics! Not long before the law of diminishing returns takes over.
    In fact, this week's release, Romeo Akbar Walter, may prove to be an indicator to that considering the lukewarm reception the film has got. The thing is, those people who want to watch these films, they are mainly available in cinema halls. These films would not be as much fun on a small smartphone/tablet screen, also known as Over The Top (OTT).
    The content providers seem to have decided to capture the attention as well as the initial eyeballs through a nonconventional way; providing content which is not available on cinema screens. That is to majorly deliver content that is morbid, gory, semi pornographic, drugs and all those things that are repulsive to a normal entertainment seeker and the family audience. Now this is the content designed for personal viewing with no one else watching over your shoulder!
    The target viewer is the youth and the purpose is to change their taste and preferences. Indian, Spanish, Mexican, all the content that I scanned through had gore, sex, and all that as common as well as the dominant factors. While providing such content, there are also some decent features but not enough yet.
    But, how long can this trend last? There was an era when Malayalam films with a lot of titillation and suggestive sex were dubbed in Hindi language and, for the interior audience, interpolation was a regular practice as explicit sex scenes from porn films were added. They worked for a while but faded soon.
    So, the issue is, while the Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) makes all kinds of demands from a feature film producer before his/her film is approved for public exhibition, this morbid mobile OTT streaming goes unchecked! The CBFC, in fact, has become the moral guardian of the Indian moviegoer; one to check on its ethics and morals!
    Pahlaj Nihalani, the recent past Chairman of the CBFC, asked to delete a kissing scene from a Bond film from some 15 seconds to six seconds. Isn't that ridiculous considering that Nihalani in real life can't finish a sentence without adding a couple of BCs and MCs no matter if women or kids are around! Is it possible that a single panel member of the examining committee of CBFC, who watches films to rate them, has never watched an illicit porn film? And, to think that these people think a film is kosher only for six seconds, not 15! Do this politically connected panel members really qualify to sit in judgement over what the people should watch? That has been an eternal debate.
    The CBFC does not work on precedents. Does not matter that a number of films, Hollywood as well as Indian with lengthier kissing scenes, have been passed with UA certificate! There is no consistency in policy. As is the wont of Indians, a seat of authority robs them of logic. It is a high to be able to judge others, especially when in an official position. As a rule, this lot found fault with every film presented for clearing. For example, the examining committee suggested 14 cuts to a children-oriented film, Mr India, in 1980. I can quote numerous such examples.
    But, the issue is about parity. That is to say, while almost all other mediums are free of a watchdog, why are films censored? Why not OTT content? Come to think of it, what does the ‘power' that the CBFC panel members and the Chairman
    amount to when a motely mob negates their certification and blocks a film? Padmaavat, Manikarnika and so many other examples.
    Coming back to streaming content and films, how come the film, PM Narendra Modi, is denied even the courtesy of a screening for the examining committee yet while the streaming episodes on the same subject, Modi, are already on people's mobiles? So, how is the CBFC and Censor Certificate relevant anymore when a biopic on a person is blocked indefinitely while the same subject OTT platform, Modi: Journey Of A Common Man, produced by Eros Now, has already started streaming?
    There are voices that the OTT content should come under CBFC certification. It is reported that at the CBFC, while the films from big makers are cleared out of turn so that they can meet their scheduled release dates, makers of smaller films have to wait a long time for that kind favour from the censors? In that case, suppose OTT content had to pass through censors, what would be the scene? Would it be the Amazon and Netflix that will get priority or a score of others who apply? After all, big shots get priority! Imagine the chaos that can follow. A 30-minute episode can end up
    being chopped off to 15 minutes and the second episode of a series may appear weeks after the previous one!
    Also, considering every other so-called group or organization or a community can ignore CBFC clearance and block a film's release, the Board means nothing. And, this despite the highest court order ages back that the CBFC is the ultimate authority on cinema content! Something needs to be set right in the Cinematograph Act. To start with, the word Digital Content, should be made part of the Act.
    @The Box Office
    *The latest release, a highly promoted film, Junglee, just about manages to stay afloat. With a meagre opening day collections of three crore, it managed a face-saving weekend of around 13 crore. The film had a tapering effect at the box office with the start of the new week and closed its first week with a total of over 19 crore.
    *The other release of the week, Salman Khan's production, Notebook, failed to make its mark. With an opening weekend of Rs 2.3 crore, it had a low opening week figures of Rs four crore.
    *Akshay Kumar carries Kesari on his popularity though a regional subject with a limited appeal, it collects Rs 19 crore for its second weekend and Rs 30 crore for its second week taking its two week tally to Rs 135 crore.
    *Badla has collected Rs 5.3 crore in its fourth week to take its four week total to Rs 79.3 crore.
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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