It is prime-time news bulletin on national television. Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone are having an animated chat with the newsreader. Switch to another channel, the duo occupies the centre-stage there as well. Suddenly you realise these film stars have become omnipresent, visible in every television programme - whether news, entertainment or a reality show.
Then you realise their agenda - the propaganda for their forthcoming film.
Nowadays it is quite common for the cast of the movies to make a beeline to the television studios for their film promotion. When 'Dirty Picture' was to be released, Vidya Balan was seen grinning away to glory on every TV channel. Any film actor becomes the darling of the TV channels every time his/her new film is to hit the theatres.
In fact, intensive marketing through electronic media is the new publicity mantra these days but at a time when television had a limited reach, most of the film publicity was localised. Big hoardings of films used to be put up all over the city. I get nostalgic as I recall the pictures of the angry young man Amitabh Bachchan, dream girl Hema Malini and the superstar Rajesh Khanna beaming from the posters.
Absolutely vivid are the memories of the cut-outs and the film posters taken around in the city on tongas and rickshaws. Songs of the publicised movie used to be played at a high pitch from the moving carriage. Who cared about noise pollution in those days? We children simply loved the loud music and the accompanying din.
As a teenager I was mesmerised by the racy trailers comprising action, dialogues, songs and dances. Today, a promo is not just the scenes picked up from the movie and cobbled together in a racy sequence but is a highly polished piece of advertising made by professionals.
Aggressive marketing may be able to generate hype, but if it will translate into success, there is no guarantee. The mighty Ravan ('Ra-one') fell down but the small 'Lunch Box' did the trick simply because it struck a chord with the audience. Promos may be able to generate initial response from the viewers but a film is a hit only if it gets a stream of audience through word-of-mouth publicity.
Despite the buzz created by the grand promos, many movies end up being just a 'three-day affair'. Released on Friday, generated business on weekend and vanished from the theatres by the next week. Is this not the fate of many of the films today?