Bollywood takes to a new name game; changes titles before film release
Changing titles of their films is the latest strategy that Bollywood filmmakers are opting for to create hype around the film. Industry insiders decode the trend.bollywood Updated: Jul 15, 2017 13:40 IST
Bollywood filmmakers opt for all possible strategies to create hype around their film, ahead of its release. While some go for over-the-top promotions, others create buzz with the teaser, or the poster of the film. However, recent instances point towards a new trend to get the audience talking about a film—changing the title of the film. For example the Shraddha Kapoor-starrer biopic on Dawood Ibrahim’s sister that was initially called Haseena: The Queen of Mumbai and the poster created quite a buzz. Later, the makers announced a fresh release date for the film and fans were taken by surprise with a new title as will—Haseena Parkar.
“The reason we changed the title of the film was because ours is a biography, and we felt that it would be better for people outside Mumbai to get familiar with Haseena Parkar, as she was very well know in this city [Mumbai] but not outside of it,” says Haseena Parkar’s director Apoorva Lakhia, adding that he doesn’t feel the new poster will make audience wonder why the title was changed.
More recently, Huma Qureshi’s international debut, Viceroy’s House, which released in the UK in March this year, changed its title to Partition 1947 ahead of its India release in August 2017. British filmmaker Gurinder Chadha, director of the film, explains, “There are certain things that appeal to an Indian audience and appeal to the Indian side of me, just as there are to the English side of me. So Partition 1947 is a great title and in fact, that was the working title of the film for many years. All early scripts are called partition. In England, they chose Viceroy’s House. But for India, this new title has a better connect.”
Also, filmmaker Imtiaz Ali’s much-touted project Jab Harry Met Sejal, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma was originally titled The Ring, while the movie was being shot in parts of Europe.
Filmmaker Homi Adajania, laughs as he shares how his first film was Being Cyrus was earlier called Akoori (parsi scrambled eggs). “Sometimes a project starts with a non-title like, say Production no. 9 or some such and later, in the process of a final screenplay materialising, it gets a working title and the film starts getting identified with this. Once the film is ready, from a marketing perspective everyone starts to look for a suitable replacement to the working title. The problem is that the audience get so used to the working title that it’s tough to find a new one that resonates owing to your familiarity with the old one.”
Whether this altering of title affects the popularity of a film in any way after it has created the hype with its original title, film critic Omar Qureshi opines, “A lot of makers are superstitious about giving out their titles early on. Or simply don’t have a title before filming begins. So they opt for a working title. And now even the title selection has become a marketing gimmick with other stars and producers pitching in to suggest titles on social media, which creates a buzz. Otherwise, it’s just that a title they are excited about initially doesn’t really belong to them or is registered by someone else who are not giving it up. So it’s too many tugs and pulls. But at the end the product is the same and the content matters above any title.”
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