Is modern-day Bollywood filmmaking all about marketing?

Being a major movie buff myself, I am really curious about the future of Indian filmmaking keeping in mind the performances of some of the recent Bollywood releases. 

By Raghav Jaitly | Updated: Sep 13, 2016, 17:06 PM IST
Is modern-day Bollywood filmmaking all about marketing?

New Delhi: Being a major movie buff myself, I am really curious about the future of Indian filmmaking keeping in mind the performances of some of the recent Bollywood releases. While nine movies crossed the Rs 100 crore mark at the Box Office in 2014, you will be shocked to know that only four films are there in the 100 crore club so far in 2016.

I expected these numbers to multiply with the time. Instead, I am witnessing a scary downfall in terms of the on-paper theatrics of the flicks.

Going by the dismal failure of films at the BO, I feel one of strongest factors is that filmmakers these days focus more on marketing their product over actual movie-making. The production houses, nowadays, are laying more emphasis on promotional strategies and techniques. Even actors are now indulging in cross-promotions and putting forward their best foot to publicise the works of their colleagues. Producers are also trying their best by attracting audiences with various tactics.

Is this working?

Not really! Remember the good-old days when films were sold by showcasing mere cinematic brilliance. Well, gone are those days now. Focus is now to reach more viewers by flaunting quirky antics. The film fraternity is not realising that entertaining the audience pre-release doesn’t guarantee Box Office success.

Now, the success of a film is measured by the moolah it raked in. Earlier, the criteria were different. In the past, movies used to complete their golden and silver jubilees. That is why it was called the golden era of Hindi Cinema.

A certain school of thought also believes that the new-age filmmakers are trying to hide their shortcomings behind glittery marketing. 

Let's decode

Okay! Here, let us not dig back in the long-gone past. Let us take the case of last week's release 'Baar Baar Dekho'. The Nitya Mehra directorial became the instant talking-point since its first poster was released. The buzz only increased when its makers started unveiling more stills and videos of the flick.

Leaving everything behind, things got more interesting when 'Kala Chashma' was unveiled. 'Baar Baar Dekho' was expected to be one of the biggest hits of 2016.

Sadly, the film underperformed at the Box Office. At least, the first weekend, which is the most crucial of all, is telling a sad story. 'Baar Baar Dekho' has only collected Rs 21.16 crore.

Moviegoers do need something more than the usual stuff for sure.

Time to bounce back stronger

Like any other business, marketing has now become an inevitable part of Bollywood too. I am ready to totally accept this fact. At the same time, filmmakers must realise that they should never compromise with the content aspect of the business.

The primary motive of the audience is to appreciate good cinema. Yes, viewers also laud the promotional gimmicks sometimes, but this is not exactly what production houses are here for.

Inspiration must be taken from the benchmarks that Hollywood films are following. Interestingly, this year, there was a Hollywood film as well which managed to mint more than Rs 100 crore at the Indian Box Office. This fact pretty much confirms that the people are still interested in the real filmmaking.

I wish to list down some popular marketing strategies used by Bollywood:

Repackaging classic musical numbers: This technique is trending high this year. It involves digging a hit song from the past, adding a quirky rap to it and then present it to the audience with a whole new video. This guarantees success as the track has already been a hit before its release. It also assures a much longer shelf-life as compared to any new track.
Viewers have already loved this song. So, they already feel an instant connect. Sometimes, the filmmakers just pursue this act even if the screenplay has no space for any such song.

Dares/challenges: Just to involve a large number of people, stars are now throwing challenges based on the theme of the movie to their colleagues and fans. It's a brilliant way to reach out to the masses. A recent example of this is 'Beat Pe Booty' challenge from Tiger Shroff's 'A Flying Jatt'. Celebrities from the television fraternity too participated sportingly. 

Events/Tours: Instead of promoting films in different cities through press conferences, stars are now preferring to appear in events and tours for the same. Remember the SLAM tour before the release of Shah Rukh Khan's 'Happy New Year'? It not only got their flick massive coverage across the globe but also set the cash registers ringing.

Other marketing strategies: Launching merchandise, appearing on reality shows, social media stints, flash mobs and much more: These are also the popular marketing strategies that are undertaken by the producers these days.

Promotion gimmicks may or may not work. But good content will always win laurels. 

As an ardent film lover, I hope to see more good cinema.