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By Arun Gopinath
When you make the most expensive movie ever, you must not only make sure that it is a good one, but also must ensure that it makes perfect business sense. A 100 crore movie is not going to bring back the Rs. 100 crore investment just because it has been well made. There needs to be an almost perfectly planned strategy of marketing and release which will bring the money back to the investor. We saw such a smart piece of cinema and business amalgamate when Endhiran was made. It was indeed a spectacle of a movie but there is also no denying the fact that the immense marketing power of Sun Pictures and the whirlwind release strategy also played huge roles in taking the film into the profit region.
  Ra One

Now, we are about to witness another seta-edge cinema business game as Ra-One waits to get into theaters for Diwali. Touted as the most expensive Indian film ever, also the first authentic superhero movie from India, Ra-One is sure to set new benchmarks in at least some aspects of cinema. We cannot say anything about the creative and technical sides as yet, but what we know for sure is that Shahrukh Khan has taken the publicity levels of the movie to henceforth unheard levels.

Open the TV and all you can see is Shahrukh Khan. Of course, that has been the case for almost a decade now as SRK endorses almost every third product in the market. But, now, you don’t just see him in ads, he has splashed Ra One promos all over national television. And, what a smart move to become the official brand ambassador of the Champions League T20 (in spite of being the owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders – no conflict of interest here; BCCI) and to put Ra One teasers in between every over of every game. He obviously knows that people from all parts of India will definitely watch at least some part of the tournament, especially down south because Chennai and Bangalore are part of it. As a result, now, even people most indifferent to Hindi cinema and SRK are familiar with Ra One. And, it is not just Ra One, the average south Indian non-cine fan is even familiar with Chammak Challo and Dildara songs- the power of promotion!

But, there can be too much of a good thing. People are calling this campaign as ‘suffocation’ instead of promotion because you can hardly watch anything on TV without coming across SRK in his superhero suit making cars fly out of parking lots. Sometimes too much promotion can have an adverse effect. It can be felt even now as people have started growing tired of this unending barrage, almost developing an aversion towards anything about the film. There is also the danger of taking the expectation levels to such heights that Ra One will start the box office race behind the audience’s expectations. We have seen this kind of thing happen before – the publicity outdoing the film and then the audiences feeling let down by the final product that doesn’t live up to the hype.

We are not suggesting that SRK does not know what he is doing. But, even he cannot have a concrete idea about the people’s expectations or put a cap on it when he wants to. The one thing he regulate is the amount of publicity that the film is given, retaining an amount of mystery about the film’s content.

One cannot also help but think that King Khan is a bit over anxious about his dream project. We know that these days a top star’s movie from Bollywood that is not too bad and is given above average publicity can easily rake up a 100 crores. Take for example, Dabbangg, 3 Idiots, Ready or Bodyguard. All 4 crossed the magic 100 crore mark. One can safely that at least 3 of them were not masterpieces but just well made entertainers with hit music. Even Singham threatened to break the barrier. We know the stories of 3 of these movies, all remakes of Tamil films. If such run of the mill (at least a couple of them) plots can do such astounding business, then a novel attempt as Ra One with SRK in the lead need not feel paranoid about its business prospects.

Yes, one cannot agree with all this splurging on publicity. But, SRK did do one thing that has taken Ra One from being a Bollywood product to an all India product. That thing happened the other day at Mumbai when Superstar shot for one scene. And that one scene has put the film on the ‘most wanted ‘ list of most South Indian film buffs. Now, that was as smart a move as SRK could have made. For all the excess publicity he has been dishing out over the past month, he realized one thing; if he was going to make the biggest Indian movie, then he needed the biggest Indian star in it’.

Now, one just hopes he doesn’t start a South Indian publicity campaign which runs and re-runs the one Rajni scene over and over again, making it appear like a Superstar film, only for all the fans to feel betrayed when the watch it on screen. Let Superstar be the surprise element, and let the magic work.
Tags : Endhiran, Ra One, 3 Idiots, Bodyguard
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