The two most awaited films of the year, Saawariya and Om Shanti Om, are likely to rewrite the rules of film marketing in India.
Both the films are releasing Nov 9 and the distributors have waged an aggressive publicity campaign.
Shah Rukh Khan's 6-pack abs in Om Shanti Om are being used to lure the audience. In Saawariya, Ranbir and Sonam Kapoor, the scions of two illustrious Bollywood families, are touted as the film's high points.
But the competition to market the films is tough.
While Om Shanti Om, Farah Khan's second directorial venture, has the backing of Shah Rukh and his Red Chillies Entertainment, Saawariya has director Sanjay Leela Bhansali at the helm with Hollywood studio Sony Pictures backing him.
Reportedly, Sony Pictures, the co-producer of Saawariya, has allocated Rs 200 million for the film's publicity. It is not surprising because Hollywood is known for exorbitant marketing budgets for movies.
Sony had released 750 Saawariya trailers in India and another 800 globally last month. No Indian film has got such a widespread first look.
"With the entry of Hollywood studios moviemaking in India would become more organised and be treated as a profit and loss business. In India the spending on marketing and publicity is very limited, as low as 10 percent of the total cost. However in Hollywood it is more than 30 percent," Sundar Raman, managing director, MindShare, a leading media planning agency, told IANS.
<b1>Although the marketing budget for Om Shanti Om is not known, the cost of the film is reported to be Rs 350 million while Saawariya has been made at a budget of Rs 400 million.
"For any film, publicity is a must. Usually, the budget for marketing is 10 to 15 percent of the total cost. Compared to Bollywood, Hollywood has a bigger territory. They have more than 280 territories and that is why they have a huge publicity budget because they know they have the means to recover it. Sometimes they even dub their films. But Indian films don't enjoy such reach," said Parag Desai, a Mumbai-based media consultant.
Vikramjit Roy, spokesperson of Sony Pictures, doesn't agree that Indian films don't enjoy wider reach.
Roy says: "The Indian film market is evolving. And the Indian diaspora is emerging almost everywhere in the world, and what better way to spread the flavour of India than Bollywood films. Also, cinema cuts across religion and culture."
However, the fact is that Indian cinema doesn't have global appeal. Its only patrons are NRIs.
Secondly, excessive publicity doesn't guarantee success at the box office. Ta Ra Rum Pum, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom and Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag are few examples of high publicity gone waste.
But Sony is confident about
"Sanjay Leela Bhansali's body of work has been in a class of its own, from his very first endeavour, Khamoshi, through Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam to Devdas, and his most recent critically acclaimed film, Black, his films have epitomised sensitivity and embodied visual splendour," said Roy.
So far so good. But if the film flops, is there any means to recover the money spent?
"Earlier, we had only music rights but now there are so many other rights. One can easily recover the money by selling all the rights, like wallpaper and ring tone downloads, etc," said Desai.
"There will be more professionalism in the marketing of the movie with the coming in of Hollywood that would give rise to a whole new revenue stream as more investments would go into home videos, DVDs and stuff," said Sundar Raman.
Though the entry of Hollywood studios has toughened competition, it is expected to spruce up the Indian motion picture business.
Desai said: "It will bring more money, competition and creativity. People will be more quality conscious."
Indeed, quality will become the key factor. The success of Chak De! India is the latest proof indicating that audiences are undergoing a transformation.
Recently Rohan Sippy tied up with Warner Brothers for Made In China and UTV Motion Pictures collaborated with Hollywood studio Fox Searchlight and Japanese producer Entertainment Farm to co-produce The Namesake. UTV is also venturing to co-produce films with Miramax International, Emperor Motion Pictures and Europa Corp.
"There are two reasons why these Hollywood studios are coming into India. One is that this is a very lucrative market and secondly, they want to be a part of an industry that produces the maximum number of films," said Sundar Raman.