Changing Face of Film Promotion

It is prime-time news bulletin on national television. Shah Rukh khan and Deepika Padukone are having an animated chat with the news reader. Switch to another channel, the duo occupies the centre-stage there as well. Suddenly you discover these film stars have become omnipresent, visible in every television programme- whether news, entertainment or a reality shows. Then you realize their agenda- the propaganda for their forthcoming film.

Nowadays it is quite common for the cast of the movies to make a beeline to the television studios for their film promotion. When ‘Dirty Pictures’ was to be released Vidya Balan was seen grinning away to glory on every TV channel. Aamir Khan was the reigning king of the television media before the release of his film ‘Three idiots’. Any film actor becomes the darling of the T.V. channels, every time his/her new movie is to hit the theatres.

In fact, intensive marketing through electronic media is the new publicity mantra these days but at a time when television had a limited reach, most of the film publicity was localized. Big hoardings of the films used to be put up all over the city. I get nostalgic as I recall the pictures of the angry young man Amitabh Bachchan, dream girl Hema Malini and the superstar Rajesh Khanna beaming from the posters. Absolutely vivid are the memories of the cut-outs and the posters of movies taken around in the city on tongas and rickshaws. Songs of the publicized movie used to be played at high pitch from the moving carriage. Who cared about the noise pollution in those days? We, the children, simply loved the loud music and the accompanying din.

As a teenager I was mesmerized by the racy trailers comprising action, dialogues, songs and dances. Even today trailers constitute main vehicle for advertising movies but the depiction is more subtle. Today a promo is not just the scenes picked up from the movie and cobbled together in a racy sequence but is a highly polished piece of advertising made by professionals. Sometimes a captivating song-dance sequence is specially picturized to figure in a promo, which may be conspicuous by its absence in the movie or may be played towards the end while the casting is being displayed on the screen.

Aggressive marketing may be able to generate hype, but if it will translate into success of a movie, there is absolutely no guarantee. The mighty Ravan (Ra-one) fell down but the small ‘Lunch Box’ did the trick simply because it could strike a chord with the audience. Promos may be able to generate initial response from the viewers but a movie is a hit only if it gets a stream of audience through word- of- mouth publicity. Despite the buzz created by the grand promos, many movies end up being just a ‘three day affair’. Released on Friday, generated business on week-end and vanished from the theatres by the next week.  Is it not the fate of many of the films today?

 

(Published in Hindustan Times  Feb27, 2014)

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