Promotion Commotion

Link-ups, break-ups, new passions, lost causes – everything is but grist to the mill of movie promotions, says Nichola Pais.

He’s the no-ruk Khan – Shah Rukh made nearly 30 public appearances in 40 days for Ra.One’spublicity campaign, armed with 30 brands and associations with a marketing budget of nearly Rs.40 crore. In the promotion race though he comes a distant second to the real Hero of Hype, Aamir Khan. The diminutive star, who played a key role in the aggressive promotion of the film, set the bar so high with Ghajini, others end up looking like also-rans. Take his concept of in-cinema advertising – getting the staff of leading multiplexes to sport the famous Ghajini hair crop was sheer brilliance… Especially when you realise the cinemas were screening Srk’s Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi at the time!

Viral marketing, ambush marketing, television advertising, multiplex promotion, tie-ups with several well-known brands, and merchandising – the campaign covered it all, forcefully and flawlessly. And there was Aamir at the centre of things. If he wasn’t picking up the shears and giving chosen fans the radical haircut himself, his signature dressing style in the film was being emulated by models across the runway in a brand tie-up. The media too were literally eating out of his hand as they uploaded their photographs on the website especially designed for Aamir to readily access their name and other details. Not a single avenue was left untapped – and creatively at that. The film, when it released, barreled through to break all records set by earlier Bollywood films.

The urge to make a unique noise and hit the headlines sometimes acquires ludicrous undertones. And yes, even Aamir is not immune… Remember how he went missing during the promotions of 3 idiots, with a prize announced for whoever located him? Even Sachin Tendulkar agreed to be part of the campaign, as reports of Aamir in different looks came in from different parts of the country. That the film scored at the box office had little to do with this ‘brilliant’ campaign, for sure. Nor were all commuters thrilled to be seated in one of the 10,000 auto-rickshaws printed with stickers saying, “Capacity: 3 Idiots”!

Vidya Balan’s red sari which she appeared in at every promotional event of The Dirty Picture led to jibes about ‘The Dirty Sari’, while the mannequin resembling the Aashique 2 couple romancing under a jacket, placed on a seat in select theatres in Mumbai elicited more smirks than smiles. The Zindagi Milegi Na Dodara gang going on an ‘adventure trip’ in Mumbai and Delhi was laughable after their stunning European road trip onscreen, while Alia Bhatt won zero brownie points for tweeting about her upcoming engagement…which was revealed to be part of the trailer launch of 2 States.

So where does fiction end and fact begin? When Ranbir Kapoor dug deep to share how the horrific fights between his parents would leave him “sitting on the steps, my head between my knees, till five or six in the morning, waiting for them to stop,” were we to feel for him or his troubled alter ego in Rockstar which released soon after? It’s similarly dubious when Aamir Khan suddenly chose to support the Narmada Bachao Andolan, demanding that those who were displaced be adequately compensated – just before the release of his Fanaa.

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