Akshay Kumar’s Bell Bottom and Prabhas’s Radhe Shyam will have theatrical releases.
Akshay Kumar’s Bell Bottom and Prabhas’s Radhe Shyam will have theatrical releases.

Film releases galore but grand scale promotions still a big no-no

Given the pandemic and rise in number of cases again, is that something feasible? We ask members of the industry.
By Juhi Chakraborty
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 12:16 PM IST

After quite an underwhelming 2020, it’s finally raining theatrical releases in Bollywood with many small, medium and big films making a beeline at the box office. And what has been an integral part of film releases are the very elaborate promotions including city tours, press conferences, interaction with large crowds and more. But given the pandemic and rise in number of cases again, is that something feasible? We ask members of the industry.

“I’m working on RRR, Radhe Shyam, Bhoot Police and Antim and these are few films that will release in the span of four months starting July. Our marketing strategy is to give the audience the feel of the magic of cinemas, only then they are going to go and watch the film,” shares Varun Gupta, founder director of MAX Marketing.

He further goes on to add that they’re not involving actors a lot in the promotions, something that they used to do pre pandemic.

“It’ll be limited but not compromising on how we’re pitching the film as a big screen experience. Like I worked with Prabhas in Saaho (2019) too but for Radhe Shyam with him, we’re not doing so much ground activation and even interaction as we did during the former. So honestly, we’re not looking at city tours for promotional,” he explains.

Cutting back on grand promotions is also the social responsibility on the actor’s head as even they would not want to venture into some place where there is a lot of crowd. Filmmaker Vipul Shah feels it’s still going to take at least six to seven months before such promotional gigs resume.

He elaborates, “The fact that digital platforms have a wide reach, touring cities isn’t requited — it has become redundant. You’ve to work with newer ways, the world has changed. I don’t see the need of physical promotions any more. But yes, we’ll all have to be innovative and we’ll be fighting for people’s attention, put the best foot forward whichever way we can.”

Having said that, digital promotions have their own set of challenges. Jay Gotecha, who looks after marketing at Emmay Entertainment, says when they released Indoo Ki Jawani in December last year, and it was challenging for them to market the film fully, using digital as a medium.

“But it was also a great learning experience as there were no physical promotions. We had Kiara Advani engage with fans all across through digital mediums. While we’d want the actors to go all out and promote our films, for us, health and safety would be priority, not just for the actors but for the fans and cine goers as well,” says Gotecha.

Therefore, he adds, “We’ll focus on more innovative mediums to engage with our audiences. We would want them to watch our films like Satyameva Jayate 2 and Bell Bottom in theatres with all safety precautions.”

Yusuf Ibrahim, the security consultant for many top Bollywood stars and travels with them, says that he still has no information about on-ground promotions in different cities. “All that is going to take time. There’s no protocol in place. Things will be clearer when films start this next month onwards and we’ll have to see how that pans out,” he says.

Even if physical promotional activities are out of question, innovation is going to be key and marketers will have to come up with novel ways of promoting the film.

“Now that films are releasing on theatres, we can’t only be relying on digital promotions. If you expect an audience to shell out 250 bucks to watch a single film in a theatre, we need to really go beyond the basic marketing of where we are just informing that a film is releasing,” concludes Gupta.

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