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Film marketing and Indian cinema

Following up on an earlier debate, a report in India’s leading business daily Economic Times (‘Saawariya’, ‘Om Shanti Om’ set to rewrite marketing rules) is informative of the changing contours of the film business in India, with implications of how other cinemas will be shaped. Two films being released this year (Saawariya and Om Shanti Om) are to use significant sums of money for marketing. Saawariya (Sanjay Leela Bhansali) will use Rs 20 cr (Rs 200 mn) for its marketing while its production cost was Rs 40 cr (Rs 400 mn). Sony Pictures is producing and distributing the film. Those sinking their money into this are confident of recoveries from multiple revenue streams.

Not only does this mark an entry for Hollywood majors into the meat of the Indian film business but will also affect film consumption, non-mainstream cinema, and media discourse.

“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.

After the efforts of Yash Raj and Adlabs this reflects an intensification of the formal subsumption of capital in Indian cinema. As always, the media discourse gets defined by the limits set by capital while reflecting the lack of a nuanced understanding of film aesthetics, audience reception, and the politics and sociology of mainstream media production and alternative spaces of media production and consumption. Every development in the film industry only serves to cement myths and the hegemony of popular culture. Sample this:

Indeed, quality will become the key factor. The success of “Chak De! India” is the latest proof indicating that audiences are undergoing a transformation.

The reporter here is seemingly balancing the report by cautioning about “quality”, while advancing myths about quality. Chak De! India and Rang De Basanti are referenced for quality due to their commercial success. I wonder if I am the only one who problematises this but not only is such a normative discourse informs film culture, but becomes an axiom that keeps re-entering media and the wider public sphere.

Saawariya Website

Om Shanti Om Website

1 comment

1 spiritofhegel { 09.20.07 at 8:46 am }

Isn’t this further proof of the point I had made in an earlier debate?

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