As the festive season kicks in, Bollywood is ready with its blitz of mega-budget, star-studded extravaganzas, competing with each other to see who gets the biggest opening, who gets the fastest 100 crore, and who gets the audience vote for the most popular star of the year.
The biggest stars are throwing parties, wooing the media, kowtowing to the public, appearing on TV, dancing at malls, everything short of going door to door begging for votes, like politicians do. The promotion machinery going into overdrive, the drumbeats selling the film get hysterically loud— it’s insane. It’s actually enough to put the real cinema buff off these films; if something needs to be sold so desperately, it must be lacking in something…you know what it is, but in the quest of entertainment, don’t care.
And, of course, the bigger the star, the higher the stakes, the more insistent the promotion. On occasion, when the star (Aamir Khan bailed out once) refuses to participate in the circus, it doesn’t stop; there are enough people to do the drumming on his behalf.
Right from the launch to the success party (sometimes a hoax), more attention seems to be paid to marketing the ‘product’ than making a film. How absurd this can be, while everybody is also told to maintain utmost secrecy and not reveal anything about the plot or the ‘look’ is to be seen in the sheer stupidity of many PR gambits to get attention for the film.
Makes one nostalgic for the time films were made, and released with a minimum of fuss—maybe a muhurat and a completion party or maybe a music release. Then newspapers ads, a press show (or not), and the film was out in the theatres. People saw it or didn’t, depending on how attracted they were to the story, music or star.
Now there’s a media shindig for the first look, first song, poster unveiling, promo release, etc, while trying to keep the plot under wraps.
And after all this tamasha to earn 100 (or more crore) a film like Ship Of Theseus comes along and teaches Bollywood a few lessons in filmmaking and conviction. Never mind that it won’t end up making that 100 crore, it will be remembered for much longer and with much more respect than many of the ‘super duper hits’.
But, when an election is coming up or a big film is releasing, common citizens get to believe for a few brief moments that the fate of the gods is in their hands.