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February 22, 2011

Film Marketing - Mere Paas Maa Hain! (My 200th blog posting)

Deewar scene where Shashi Kapoor is telling Amitabh " Mera Paas Maa Hain!"

The psychology of watching films: India is the country that produces the most films in the world. So what is that makes Indian movies larger than life to the typical Indian movie watcher. 

It is the fantasy that the Indian movies are good at. Movies offer kaleidoscope of emotions. They are made with liberal doses of emotions; relationships are glorified, especially between mother and son. There is a famous dialogue where one brother says to the other “I have everything in life what is that you have?” His brother say “Mere Paas Maa Hain, (I have mother with me)”. There is also slapstick comedy, garish costumes, silly songs and very filmy fights with dishmum dishmum sounds. No wonder this type of entertainment is loved by Indian public.

But why is that the Indian movie watchers watch the same movie again and again. That too when the movie ticket are quite expensive and cost lot of money. The answer lies in how the movie is perceived by the hard core fans of the hero.

The hard core fans of the different heroes identify themselves so much with the hero that they become heroes themselves. Next time observe the photographs of fan associations presidents and other office bearers. They bear slight resemblances of their heroes. This resemblance is the basis of their great fascination for the hero.

On other words the fans of a particular movie watch themselves on the screen. They romance the heroine. Bash the villains. That is the reason why Indian movies where  the hero plays roles of a railway coolie, Auto rickshaw a driver  and other poor man roles become such block buster hits.

It is the dream of every poor man. That he has chance of making it big in real life. That he might become rich one day and can romance the most beautiful girl in the world. So what if the taming of the rich girl is done a little roughly! It adds to the fun. The rich and beautiful girl groveling at the feet of a the hero satisfies the innate desire and makes the typical Indian movie watcher to go back to the movies again and again thus making the movie become a hit at the turnstiles. 

The Indian film makers are quite well known for their formula ridden movies. The lost and found formula of Manmohan Desai was beaten to death but always appealed to the movie goers. It is not a wonder that Manmohan Desai had only scorn for the critics. He was fond of stating that his critics are the movie goers and as long as they liked his movies he has no problem.

Name less movie:  A Telugu movie tried the unthinkable. It was a movie without a name. In a movie industry where a name is everything this movie went to the town saying that it has no title. The producers claimed that the viewer could name the movies after watching it in the theatres. It was a very brilliant concept but the movie was not great. Finally the movie was named Paape na Pranam (My daughter is my breath). The movie sunk without a trace.

According to JD chakravarthy the hero and producer it was the stupidest title but it was chosen by the viewers. He also was of the opinion that nameless movie will arouse the curiosity in the audience and that they will come to the theatres and according to him it worked, until they named the movie. The co-producer wants to release in B and C centers (In India that would mean small towns and rural areas) and he felt that audience won't accept the movie without a title and opted for this title. That effectively took out the USP of the movie which was not having a title, A brilliant marketing coup laid waste by a back peddling co producer.

Puja of the goddess in the hall: South Indian movies are very heavy in mythology. The holy movies made in south India drew flocks of devoted audience. The gods and goddess stories used to play out in the theatres and when the audience came out a impromptu temple greeted them. They would receive the blessings of the gods or the goddess whose movie they just saw. This was a huge draw for the god loving Indians.

Song books at a very cheap rate: Indian movies have many songs. These songs are learned by rote hummed and there are many reality shows and game weaved around the filmy songs. More than 50% of all music revenue in India is generated from sale of movie songs. Thus it is not surprising that till the 70s and 80s song books printed on cheap news print were sold at a throw away price to entice viewers to come again and again. These song books which have become collector’s items have proven their worth by acting as loss leaders. They made the songs popular and to watch the songs the viewers would come to the movies again and again.