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Indian Cinema and Marketing

20 May

The Indian film industry has travelled a burgeoning journey from its first feature film in 1913 to huge budget films like ‘3 Idiots’ and ‘My Name is Khan’ today. As the nation developed, so did the Indian Cinema. In a nutshell, Indian cinema is an approximately 59 billion business revolving around 800 films a year with three times as much the cost of marketing these cinematic products. With the passing times, the commercialization of this art gained importance and promotion of film became as significant as the story of the film. Today, factors such as promotions, building awareness are vital for a film’s success unlike the past where a good distribution system ensured box office hit. Adoption of newer innovative techniques, mediums help films not only mint money but also generate employment for people required for these professionally driven activities.

According to Oxford dictionary, marketing is the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research or advertising. Marketing a film is one of the vital functions of its organizational functional cycle besides production and finance. More importantly, Marketing of a movie is all about creating instant brand identity. As films have limited distribution window and therefore a limited shelf life, the marketing has to happen at absolutely the right time to get audiences into the cinemas. Marketing mix if film making revolves largely around tangible promotions and the main film product relies heavily on such activities. The success mantra depends on how film is packaged. Noam Chomsky’s observation though under a different context can be quoted here: ‘Bottom-line is important.’ Marketing builds brand identity which sets profits coming. 4Ps concept applied on the movie industry can be applied as a whole ie: Product, price, place, promotion.

For a movie to selected by the audience on the basis of the content, it needs to be clearly identifiable in its marketing — genre, stars, story, special effects, style all need to be presented suitably as a product. The movie business is one of the most complexes in the communications industry because of its creativity, diversity and its continual explosions of technological delivery options. In Bollywood, a movie is identified primarily at face value such as an SRK or a Bhansali film. The concept of idolization of personality is derived from this and is effectively utilized for all its branding. Tie ups with fashion houses for costumes, sports gear etc keeping in line with the theme of the film are publicized as much as the movie.

For instance the movie Dabangg, was identified as a Salman Khan film, and also cashed in on the sensation created by the Munni Badnaam song. The film ‘Tess Maar Khaan’ used bombarding advertising as a method. Almost every channel at all points of time showcased the film promos. The role of the song ‘Sheila ki Jawani’  was instrumental in getting the film attention and is also novel in the aspect that it came to symbolize the film even before its release. The 2010 film ‘Shahrukh bola khoobsurat hai Tu’ used Shahrukh Khan’s name heavily even as he only essayed a cameo role in the film. Small budget films like Iqbal, Dev. D carry themselves on the force of their product content i.e. the film.

Pricing of the movie ticket though seems standardized in the Indian context at first glance, is dependent on market segments, release schedules, territories and promotional budgets. The marketing decisions regarding these are taken by market evaluation. In the words of the marketing geniuses Al Ries and Jack Trout (Marketing Warfare), ‘Winners tell jokes, the loser holds press conferences’ as happened in the case of Shahrukh Khan’s ‘Rab ne bana di jodi’ clash with Aamir Khan’s Ghajini in December 2008 where despite an early release the marketing tactics of Aamir Khan (Ghajini style haircuts were sported by theatre employees across cinemas) wiped out the former completely. Claims of ‘better people, better product’ is an inglorious fallacy in Indian cinema.

Pricing has become a global issue. The release of a DVD has always been timed to protect producer’s interests. But with piracy at record levels globally, a variety of pricing — and timing — strategies are being tested, like pricing the DVDs very cheaply.

pic for representation purposes

Placement of an Indian film is largely on grounds of exaggerated reality, where it is sufficiently conveyed to movie goers through promotional activities. Also the fact that entertainment in India is largely based on the escapist mode where the viewer is looking for pure entertainment and marketing activities such as innovative shows, appearances, one-liners on the line of least expectation instantly wins over audiences. Post production promotions are also a new factor in India with the movie 3 Idiots being promoted well after a year of its release every time it is telecasted on television. Options for placing the film product are increasing as technology has increased a films defense to competition. Forcefully or in-your-face marketing divisions of films are pulling out all stops to ensure awareness as in the case of the movie Tees Mar Khan which developed its game version along with the production of the film and was released before the actual release of the film. Marketing is a combination of surprise and superior skill as demonstrated classically by Aamir Khan while promoting 3 Idiots exceeded the business capacity of an average film in India’s interiors by appearing in disguise in small cities and offering prizes to those who discovered his attire, online campaign such as, facebook profile of Aamir ‘the pucca idiot’ and alternate reality gaming, painted toilet seats and autorickshaws (capacity: 3 idiots), the fourth idiot t shirt campaign, butt seats in theatres across the country and also involved bytes with local regional media. Aamir sent little perks such as hand written tease cards to goad the local media editors of the city he went to in disguise who went ballistic to cover the film, thereby buying into the publicity share of 3 idiots. The mainstream media were only provided with footage shot from these activities with all major interviews were given to regional media thereby connecting to the man from Ujjain and the man from Ranchi, it struck a chord. Emotional connect was used in an extremely new way by Aamir. In Indian cinema producers seldom ever directly sell the film to audience but to distributors, investors, sub distributors, exhibitors and internet strategists. In-audience marketing happens through word of mouth. Napoleon Bonaparte once said that God is on the side of big battalion. Led by a 25 member team the brief was clear to the T- to get the common man watch. This was proved wrong by 3 Idiots. In fact, 3 idiots emulated the advice stated in the book ‘Marketing Warfare’- attack on as narrow a front as possible which 3 idiots did in a matter of 2 months in public eye unlike other films which seek attention throughout the making process. It’s simple as the law of physics, the larger front you hit, and the heavier is the impact. Quantity matters as much as quality. On release, ‘truth will out’.

Sevanti Ninan in her book ‘Headlines from heartland says, ‘Mediums such as television and films of national scale came rapidly and have saturated at a fast rate, for Bollywood interior regions are still a virgin territory.’ While people admired Bollywood for all its grandeur, regional cinema remains an undisputed choice in Indian hinterland with the rare exceptions like 3 Idiots.

Innovations in movie marketing can be seen almost with every big banner release. But yet, not all big studio’s/ production houses are using the science of media planning to reach out to many people at a little cost. In cinema business, it is the age of going that extra mile. It’s difficult to stand up to expectations and over hyping can kill the product (read Drona, Krazzy 4 etc.) and it has to happen at exactly the apt moment. Once again, quoting Napoleon Bonaparte, ‘I may lose a battle, but I shall not lose a minute’ which is right considering 30 per cent of the budget is marketing campaigns.


Over the past few years the financing of Indian cinema has undergone a sea change. Banks (UTI, Exim, IDBI), multinational companies, corporate houses (UTV, Reliance Big pictures, Adlabs) fund approximately 15 percent of the films. These establishments have turned Indian cinema into an organized industry and has also generated newer sources of income such as satellite rights, DTH, radio etc. Corporatization does not generate good quality films and have over commercialized the art of film making.

Film reviews

Indian Press scenario is such that critiquing a film post release is subject to editorial interference and manipulation. Most news channels and newspapers have in staff as critiques who are not independent invariably becoming a tool for film makers who enjoy tie ups/ collaborations with media houses and maneuver rave reviews and success stories.

Big sweep Owners

Big Sweep owners like the Bennett and Coleman Limited have enormous marketing prowess with major businesses in the field of radio, television and print and 70% of the bus shelter hoardings in Mumbai. Hence establishing a connect through these mediums at one go makes the job of the film makers quite easy as these big sweep owners provide the ultimate marketing solutions on one platter. The big sweep owners can ingrain the potential movie goers mind and generate a must watch feeling by tapping every available resource at hand.  These activities would generally ensure that the people, masses and classes alike would become aware of the ‘launch’ in the market. The situation is quite different in the South where a complete movie is made and then is sold to media tycoons owning one of the TV channels in the state who promote the movie incessantly. Recent example of the movie ‘Endhiran’ was bought by Sun Pictures owned by Kalanathi Maran that ultimately netted 400 crore in revenue. Kalanithi Maran left no stone unturned in making and marketing Endhiran. Using all his channels effectively methods like playing endhiran trailer every 5-10 minutes on Sun TV, Suriyan FM, owned by Sun network  and special features on various aspects of Endhiran worked in its favour. The hype was built around Rajnikant’s name, in the hype the story purpose of the movie was lost. However, the true value of the movie lies in the marketing sensibilities of Sun Network which milked the movie product for all its worth through marketing.

Small budget films

Recently small budget films like Udaan, Peepli Live have made mark at the ticket collections courtesy more due to their content than marketing. It is a running debate where marketing plans made by professionals were falling flat which brought back old scenes of the movie industry where content mattered more than buzz.  It reiterated the old belief that cosmetic and hyped marketing plans cannot default the need for real content and therefore cannot proxy for the same.

Role of Controversies and New Media

In an era where nothing is left untouched by internet, for publicity the web is an indispensable tool. Internet marketing of a film ranges from designing all posters, photography, merchandising, blogs, websites, social networking, interaction with public and even transmission of a film is done via internet to avoid piracy. The website of a film must embody and express the purpose, convey brand identity of film. Using twitter, facebook and other internet media are new found avenues of generating awareness about a movie. Actor Siddharth promoted the movie Striker through Twitter and it was released via internet on YouTube to combat piracy. This in addition to increasing the viewership of the websites also increases the interest in the movie among the audience. Bollywood has tried and tested buzz and viral marketing, and is investing heavily into mobile advertising; the approach of new media is largely in your face.

Audience Transformation and In-film advertising

Indeed, quality will become the key factor. The success of “Tere bin Laden” is the latest proof indicating that audiences are undergoing a transformation. Marketing of a film lasts for an entire lifecycle, in film promotions of varied products and services contribute to the highlights of the film.

Imran Khan at an event


The Brett Lee concert Stampede

18 May

If acting on impulse is a good thing, then it better be at a concert where all the madness is.It was my first experience of a concert. On 15th May of this month Indian music band M majors performed with Brett Lee at Inorbit mall (Malad) in Mumbai. Female fans couldn’t stop swooning over him as he took to the stage. M majors had to bear the brunt of Lee’s popularity when the audience screamed and clicked tongues impatiently chanting Lee’s name. The band sang beautiful numbers nevertheless and the audience enjoyed it. M Major’s handled the impatient crowd sportingly. Perhaps they had already braced themselves to face a full blast of Lee’s popularity.

The crowd even took to arguments with press photographers jostling for space in the small space near the parking lot of the mall where the show was being held. I did note that girls who were loud enough at concerts usually take the limited hugs and kisses. Funnily enough, one girl who got to the stage, got her hug (I don’t know about the peck/kiss i could not beat to watch it so i closed my eyes) but refused to leave the stage and remained there while the last long was being sung.

Brett enthralled the audience with his guitar playing and chorus singing. The crowd grooved to his tunes as he sand Summer of 69,brown eyed girl, proud mary and Sweet home Alabama. Lee endeared the crowd with his hindi speaking too.

Now Brett has been doing small shows like this all over India along with philanthropic appearances. Some of these gigs are sponsored by NGO’s. Reports in world media have often suggested his closeness to India was the prime reason for his estrangement and divorce with ex-wife Elizabeth Kemp. Despite that Lee has kept a close association with Indian endorsements, music and film industry, his fans are only loving it.

Lee performed three songs and then came the part the crowd most dreaded and i did not foresee. Autograph seekers rushed to grab that golden chance, but the guards did not allow anyone to get near Lee. I joined the rush to get an autograph but midway through the struggle i fell down and couldn’t figure out what happened next as the crowd passed me or rather trampling over my foot. I managed to pull myself free and thankfully didn’t get injured. Lee escaped unscathed.

NOTE: This is not a brett lee praise article. It was the first time i attended a concert and the above article expresses what i observed there. PHOTO SERIES:

A Letter to Soul, just any Soul

20 Apr

Working hard is good. Who doesn’t like to work hard? That’s the way you earn, get to enjoy life, trying to find a purpose in life. Fun is important too. But it goes beyond the saying- all work and no play make jack a dull boy. I think this line is such a cliche. Because you and I are not Jack, we are individuals. Distinct. Separate. Unique.

Each being is different. But people next to us, people around us regularly tend to forget this crucial fact as if it’s no more than another cliche, among millions of cliche’s around them. In the grind of the daily struggle called life, people forget themselves. People tend to forget their identity, needs, and slowly tend to ignore the small things that bring them happiness in small ways. If that happens, we can hardly blame others who take us for granted. In that case, even if there is free time it feels like as if we are lying useless doing nothing, the feeling of not doing anything makes jack dull even more. Moreover, it turns individuals into the cliche jack. The cliche jack is an even more dangerous phenomenon because this jack has an extreme either-or tendency. This jack can can only feel dullness and joy.

Both these feelings do not fulfill a person’s desires which are above such emotions. A person is most fulfilled when he is contented. Again, a person may be content with what he/she has, but still not joyous about the fact. In fact, he/she may feel dull about it.

If one is feeling dull, they usually try to find happiness inside, motivate and elevate their self from the negativity induced by others. This feeling should last long and should be adopted in character. Positive feelings should be retained.

There is a saying- one should never look back after final goodbyes are said. If you look back, there is a chance that it will be difficult to get out of that phase in your life. That phase could have been good or bad, i don’t know, depends. I don’t know if this saying is true but i also feel that one should look back if they need to reflect. Also, it is important to get out of the lull of the past, because it’s gone and irrevocable and also separates us from the present. It’s a thine membrane that separates past and the present, nevertheless it is important to reconnect with the present. The future is waiting, of course.

Life is beautiful, enjoy it and please don't take yourself for granted.

Education in India- by choice or by chance ?

12 Apr

It has been a week. Feels like a million years already. While grind through the grind of college education, one is not particularly inclined to think about the after effects. There was no time. It was always projects, travel, chatting and talking for long hours on the phone, having fun. No, not always. If it was so routinely, i would not be feeling so nostalgic.

I had to pinch myself to realize that graduation was over, well at least grad exams were over. But the feeling anticipated was not in place. Why ? It finally dawned on me when my friend DG screamed at the top of her voice over the phone- YIPEEEEEEE ! As they say, those who hear hard, need a boom to awaken.

The Macbride report (UNESCO) stated this in 1980- Education should not be left to chance. The Indian Government has not woken up yet. 31 years on Macbride, people like me feel privileged enough to become graduates. Further education is on the cards, but what about million other kids that i see on streets everyday, in tea shops, clothes stores. Why aren’t they studying, enriching their brains and reaping fruits of education ? The Indian union budget started levying 2 % education cess in the year 2004 when it was presented by noted economist Mr. P. Chidambaram. This was later increased to 3 %. All taxes in India are subject to an education cess, which is 3% of the total tax payable. The dropout rates at primary level alone are very high. More girls cease to attend school at primary level. Also prejudices on ed-ed schooling and girls being taught by males post puberty still exist. The right to education became a fundamental right in India only in 2002. For 55 years after independence, education existed in the form of a directive principle, a mere duty which was not as enforcible as a fundamental rights.

Lack of reinforcement measures and infrastructure result in neo literates, as they do not get further impetus for education. Neo literates have fragile levels of literacy. Majority of neo-literatesare economically poor and live in ruralareas or urban slums. A major bulk of the literate population are actually semi literates who could not continue education for various reasons beyond 5th-8th grade.

As of Census 2011, the overall literacy levels in India is 74.04 % (Males 82.14 %, Females 65.46 %). The definition of literacy by National Literacy Mission (program by Government of India) concerns- acquiring the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic and the ability to apply them to one’s day-to-day life. It negates the presence of awareness education, rational thinking. The prescribed aims are meant to be enforced at a basic level.

A vast expanse of land, India is a logistical challenge when it comes to formulating an overall plan for implementing education programs. The government ads that i see on Television are more agriculture based, promoting agricultural training and consumer awareness. How can government ads promise to have any effect when they themselves show women in a domestic way, domestic attire, wearing ghunghat over the head and bearing children ? What more, Indian parliament was a center of much drama last year when the Lok Sabha (Lower House) erupted with a strng demand for enumerating backward classes as part of census. It called for conducting a cast based census, something which the founding fathers of the constitution weeded out first when they were formulating it. Virtually every political party demanded it, from Akali Dal to Shiv Sena to AIADMK to DMK, not to mention backward outfits of UP-Bihar — RJD, SP and JD(U). The present Government seems to be intent on negating everything that the basic essence of Constitution stood for- anti corruption, equality and progress.

But all is not wrong. There are education programs like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, National Literacy Mission, Mid day meal scheme which are making great efforts to bring children to schools, tap growing drop out rates and offering benefits for higher education. Community and Non governmental efforts have made great progress in creating awareness at grass root level. the Indian Government ensures free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14. However many of the promises made by these programs have not achieved their promised levels.

What is needed in India is a comprehensive education policy that emphasizes on tertiary involvement in education. Also informal education, radio and Tv as a medium should take precedence over formal schooling methods. Infrastructure dedicated exclusively for the purpose of education should be made available all over India. many a times community halls in villages double up as schools and children are driven away from schools if thers is a function/activity in th community halls.

Speaking of holidays, it has become an excessively neurotic, gratifying medium. We have Diwali holidays, summer holidays, Navratra holidays, Eid Holidays, Christmas and easter vacations, bank and national holidays, accidential holidays (on days when there are floods or some random natural disasters), and a million other days. It is possible to exhaust one’s work capability but the excuses for declaring holidays are abundant,.

We are not setting a very great examples by having such low productivity hours. There are celebratory holidays for World cup matches too. India has a long way to go to progress in the field of education. We ned not just policies but the right attitude too. Education should not be left to chance.

As for me, the feeling sunk in 2 days after exams got over, the feeling of nostalgia and old memories still lingers in the air.

destitute children play on the road.


Image editing- boon or bane?

11 Apr

One can choose to abstain or embrace change. Technology has great relevance in this regard. I have come across many amateur photographers like me who are averse to using image editing softwares. many are of the opinion that image editing is  manipulating the photograph, to make it more sale able or interfering with the original. Over the years I have figured out that this is more due to ill understanding and visually complex nature of the softwares and lack of training. Training in such softwares is best done by persons by themselves- trial and error is arguably the best form of learning. Mental blocks – i-can’t-do-it attitude never helps.

Following is my attempt at image editing:

Picture 1: Original baby photograph. The photograph is shaky. There are other anomalies like exposure and brightness are not up to the mark. The innocence of the baby is not emphasized enough and hence needs development.

Trial and error: I recently came across Google Apps – BeFunky photo effects. This effect called under painting was by far most suitable but still did not give me the effect desires. The lined are far too dark and instead takes away the softness associated with the original image.

The final Cut: This diffused glow effect called Orton style #1 added the desired glow, gave it a fairytale look that I wanted.

The only problem with Goggle Apps is that the final image’s resolution is not the same as the original uploaded one. So if one desired to make larger prints, will be disappointed.

Experimentation is the key with image editing. It does not matter what software is used. It is important to have the blue print of the desired effect in mind.


8 Apr

I love to do it do it. Fashion is something that every photographer loves, at least I do. This set is from a fashion show of my college festival – I am glad i managed this with my DSC H 50. I quite abide by the saying, There is no such thing as a greatest photographer and there is nothing like a best camera either. One’s vision has got a lot to do with it. I liked my effort. What do you think ?

Junior College Photography – Photo Essay

23 Mar

Chapel, St. Xavier’s College


The classroom at the far right was 20 A, my Junior College class room.

Random Photo Shoot @ Chennai

22 Mar

Supermoon Photography at Midnight

20 Mar

Okay Here is the Supermoon in India. Can somebody please tell Star News not to go so blah about this phenomenon?

Bit off centre but its pristine white quality is pretty.

The camera shook when i took this shot. It looks like a meteor or probably a very ugly sperm.

Believe me it was just a pretty moon. About the size? Hmmm… 14% larger than usual. Like I care.

A traveller’s diary: My city and my gaon

4 Feb

Am i too late for introduction? Better late than never, although i am quite a stickler for punctuality in normal life. Buts such is the case with most Indians, most Mumbaikars, we find an ear to listen to our feelings and we go on without realizing that we have not even introduced ourselves to the person sitting next to us. When travelling in long distance trains, we Indians share, we fight, we show kindness that is not always reciprocated back, we come to know each other without knowing each other really. We make friends though we know we may not meet each other ever again. Our world is big, with place for all. I am a mass media student in a reputed college in Mumbai and love to write and do photography of course. I don’t know why people say photography is inherited. In the film ‘wake up sid’, the protagonist sid/ siddharth had got his photography bug from his father. Mine is quite a familiar filmy story, the same my dad also had photography as his hobby. I started mine 2 years ago, and i had to coax, do tantrums, reason and what not to get my DSC H50. I had no idea that canon or nikon were better options but at that time all that fascinated me was a camera and i loved to click. The DSC caught my eye and i fell blindly in love with it. All my classmates oohed and aahed (and i am not exaggerating one bit here) when i went around clicking photographs all the time. I must say my juniors in college are way better than me and passionate for photography just like me. We share a passion, an emotion to freeze the moment in time that is not waiting to be captured but if you are there at that precise moment when its playing out and are able to freeze that, you are a hero. nobody wants to be a part of the crowd here. Ask anyone, just anyone in Bombay if they want to be part of the crowd. No one. Neither do I. But i want to be with them. I want to see them and be able to photograph them. We talk about real India, but the urban city is hardly real. Beyond a thin membrane of tolerance there is a vacuum a barrier that one cannot penetrate. The real India is the land of devotion that stands in serpentine queues outside temples. The real India lies in the spice of the food that is traditionally made even today. The real India is rural- where even today most of the population sweats it out to make a living. People say that India is rising globally, yes, most of it is true too. But i find the true calling here, in the soil of the most remotest villages and small towns. You don’t need a trade hub, flashy town around you to exist. I had gone to kashmir once. In Sri nagar, i went to ride in the shikara with my family at Dal Lake and truly felt at peace with the world like never before. A short while later a boy of mere five or six year old in his small shikara came near the shikara i was in and asked me if i would but his lotuses. The lotuses were the most beautiful flowers i had ever seen. Unfortunately the boy had a very painful look on his face. I felt a deep stirring of emotion. I asked him, ‘How much?’.
‘Give him whatever you see fit, madam. He’s a local boy, sells lotus, very beautiful they are.’ the man who was sailing my shikara said.
I took a small bunch and paid him five rupees.
As it had to happen, the boy’s face was filled with even more sorrow but thankfully there were no tears. He had lived in a place ravaged by extremists most of his life, i could understand his pain but do no more about it. He looked like he wanted more money for the lotuses. But before i could think more on it, he had drifted away and the darkness of the twilight swallowed him completely till i could no longer see him. I felt sorry for him. The man riding my shikara told me not to look too much into it. You see the problem with city people like me? We come across people but all of them are nameless creatures in our memory. there are people that i come across who help me if i am in trouble or distress, but thats it. My mother tells me, ‘that is how good people work, they do a deed and go back into their lives’. Sometimes those who help us do not even have a face. I wish i knew that boy’s name. I don’t know what good it would have done him or me. But i wish i knew.

Dal Lake, Srinagar