The New Age Marketing of Bollywood Blockbusters


Musings in a Blog

The Indian public is generally naive and susceptible to endless manipulations. And boy were they manipulated in this instance.I refer of course to the build-up and the controversy surrounding the release of My Name Is Khan, starring Bollywood’s current poster-boy, Shah Rukh Khan.

Given the track-record of the Shiv Sena in such matters in the past,
it is rather doubtful whether they were deterred on the day of the release in Mumbai by a
handful of lathi wielding cops outside theatres and multiplexes. It is
more likely that once ‘demand and supply’ dovetailed (between Karan Johar / Shah Rukh Khan and the Shiv Sena), the Shiv Sena saw
this as a great opportunity to top up their financial coffers and SRK /
Karan Johar willingly parted with the sums they may have demanded. All’s fair in love,war and marketing and to draw in the
crowds in during the first few days specially since SRK’s previous releases had not done too well, was absolutely the need of the hour. To buttress this marketing sideshow, it was also necessary to have the mainstream and liberal
media going into virtual orgasms declaring that the forces of darkness
had been vanquished and the movie was an unqualified success.

While I haven’t seen the movie myself and have no desire to do so
either in the near future, from a bunch of comments and feedback I have
read in various forums, it is hackneyed, implausible and quite, quite
boring. I wonder what led a bunch of critics, who normally can be quite
cynical, to come up with rave reviews, in that case. Is there another
story of manipulation here, that needs to be told? Or is it merely the
‘Tiger Woods’ syndrome which, simply stated, postulates that to
continue to remain in Tiger’s good books and reap all the attendant
benefits, one must report only what Tiger wants reported
unquestioningly.

And finally, despite the explicit and implicit protestations of
secularism, wasn’t this an instance of unabashedly playing the religion
card? Considering that the movie is a rather contrived tear-jerker
fashioned to wring oodles of sympathy for the innocent, persecuted
Mussalman and the fact that the cricketers for whom SRK stood up just
before the release of the movie, belong to a country that is a declared
Islamic Republic, backing down subsequently would have meant losing
large chunks of the potential Muslim viewership in India and all over the world. Conversely the ‘courageous’ stand of SRK & Karan Johar and
the unapologetic backing of the Congress would have ensured Muslim
viewers queuing up to watch the movie and hopefully voting en-bloc for
the Congress when the next elections come around.


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