While addressing a seminar on the future of Hindi cinema early this week, one of the key issues I was asked to speak on was the importance of movie marketing in today's times. I cited the example of a popular toothpaste brand that spends an extensive amount on its promotion, convincing people that it guards our teeth, gums and enamel like no other brand does.
Simply put, it means that no matter how strong and popular your product may be, you still need to pump up the promotion to stay fresh in public memory. Content and promotion are two sides of the coin and both play a significant role in film business today.
Let's get into the flashback mode. Till the early 1980s, film promotion was limited to plastering the walls with posters, putting up hand-painted hoardings at strategic points and issuing ads in newspapers. With the invasion of satellite television, song and talkie promos were bombarded round the clock subsequently. Today, television, radio and Internet promotion, besides multi-city press meets, holds the key. In fact, when you plan the budget on paper, you need to keep aside a substantial amount for promotion at the very outset.
Cut to the present. Two of the three releases last Friday - KHANNA & IYER and SAY SALAAM INDIA - came virtually unannounced. KHANNA & IYER has Mukta Arts as one of its producers - a production house known for qualitative promotion. Partnering with Mukta Arts on this film was Zee, one of the premier television entities. Despite strong names to back this project, the promotion of KHANNA & IYER was extremely low-key and worse, the quality of posters and promos were far from eye-catching.
SAY SALAAM INDIA suffered for altogether different reasons. The film came at an inappropriate time [India's exit from the World Cup] and despite a reputed firm like Adlabs distributing the project, the print count was reduced to half as the release date drew closer. This discussion with one of its producers at a private screening of the film caught me off guard. Sure, World Cup has eaten into film business, but it affected this film in a different way.
KHANNA & IYER was burdened with a poor script and poorer marketing. Therefore, its disastrous opening [5%-10%] didn't shock me one bit. But SAY SALAAM INDIA was a fine attempt and I genuinely feel that it suffered due to nil awareness. Aggressive promotion might've helped and a strong word of mouth would've only proved sone pe suhaaga.
The third release, DELHII HEIGHTS, was a terrible letdown. Perhaps, I expected more from this supposedly slice of life movie. The reactions to the film were evident at the premiere screening of the film on Wednesday night. You generally exchange notes during the intermission of a film, but the people I bumped into were discussing everything under the sun, except the film.
My heart goes out to all producers who toil hard to put a project together, but one mistake [script] blows the film to smithereens.
THIS WEEK IN 2006
[Weekend: March 31-April 2, 2006]
The last day of March [Friday, March 31] witnessed four releases -- HO SAKTA HAI!, MADHUBAALA, CHAAND KE PAAR CHALO and NAUGHTY BOY -- and it wasn't tough guessing their outcome. None of the four films were talked-about prior to their release and when they finally hit the screens on Friday, the audience disinterest showed in their collections.
That has been the trend year after year. March has always been a weak link, with several inconsequential films making it to theatres in the absence of biggies. But the business shows a big jump in April, May and June, till schools and colleges in India re-open and the monsoon phase begins.
THIS WEEK IN 2005
[Weekend: April 1-3, 2005]
Like every year, there was a lot riding in those five months [April-August 2005]. The past three months had been anything but bliss for the entertainment industry. The tally of flops continued to mount week after week. But the situation was expected to reverse, starting with LUCKY, WAQT and KAAL in April. Almost every industry person was hoping [and praying!] that it pours hits this summer!
THIS WEEK IN 2004
[Weekend: March 26-28, 2004]
The opening response to MUSKAAN and WOH only added to the woes of the industry. Aggressively promoted MUSKAAN was expected to open much better. Unfortunately, the film ran out of luck on its opening day itself. WOH was an apt case of weak promotion and weaker content. The failure of both MUSKAAN and WOH proved yet again that sub-standard products wouldn't work anymore.