By Ashima Gujral:
If my films don’t show a profit, I know I’m doing something right. — Woody Allen
Why should people go out and pay money to watch bad films when they can sit at home and watch bad television for nothing?– Samuel Goldwyn
Film promotions today receive much more attention than the film itself. The makers today, it seems, are more interested in the marketing strategies they follow than the content of the film itself. Be it the biggest of stars to the small budget films, everyone has now recognized the need, or should I say the apparent illusion that a film works on promotions and not merely content.
The greatest example of today’s extent of promotions is Ra.One which managed to cover its cost not on the box-office sales but on the publicity profits that it made. No stone was left unturned. From merchandise to satellite rights, video games to comics, public appearances to online marketing, the movie created an unparalleled buzz but the ultimate result was for all to see. Yes, the movie joined the so called 100-crore club but only because of its marketing strategies and not the content.
This was just one example. There are numerous other ways in which filmmakers go all out to promote their films. Giving interviews on every channel, creating link-up rumours and reality show participation is a long followed ritual. Merchandising and being more and more accessible to people is the new trend. The idea that lies behind is to reach the masses. Since youth is the main target audience, visiting college campuses is now a booming trend. Alma maters welcome alumni film stars wholeheartedly and students enjoy meeting their favourite stars at simply no cost. Also schemes which offer opportunities for dinner and lunch dates with the stars generate a lot of revenue for the producers through messages and phone calls and what not.
But is all of this heavily compromising on the quality of the content that these filmmakers offer? Film stars go all out to promote their films and bring audience to the theatres to watch their films but do they also go all out to make sure that their film is worth watching? One school of thought believes that today Indian film industry is a heavy revenue generating business. And as the rules of the game are, do whatever earns you maximum profit which, in a way, is right. But another thought that questions this theory is that when a person goes to watch a movie in a theatre should he not be given wholesome entertainment and not some simple unpalatable piece of story?
Yes, it also depends on the taste of a person to like what is offered. But is it also not the responsibility of the film makers to understand the taste of the audience? Or can they arbitrarily loot the masses by heavily promoting a below average flick? And the duty of providing good cinema lays only the shoulders of the small-budget films?
Vicky Donor, Gangs of Wasseypur, Paan Singh Tomar, Peepli live are just a few of the many examples of movies with no superstars or big production houses to back them. The only thing that clicked with the audience was the movie itself. And such movies have gone far and out in impressing global audience. Not that they made minimal efforts to promote their films, but their focus remained the story. When we watch such movies, the hope and faith in cinema which is true to its essence still persists. But we are also pained at seeing the overall condition and quality of cinema that is constantly deteriorating these days.