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The show of business

Friday, January 09, 2015
By Deepa Gahlot

It’s quite enlightening reading comments about films — particularly the big ones — on social media. They are often more nasty than the most scathing reviews. Under the cloak of invisibility or anonymity the medium offers, people can say what they please. Regular reviewers have to worry about offending stars and the publication or website being blacklisted by powerful production houses, the general public has nothing to stop them from ripping into the biggest hits. They have spent their money and time because they were promised entertainment, they have the right to criticise if they want to. The old word-of-mouth is now word of social media.

Which is why the major production houses flood the cinemas with prints, mop up on opening weekend and don’t let the reactions come in the way of ticket sales. They know that to pan a film people have to see it, so it’s money in the bank anyway. If they don’t like the film, that’s just too bad, they have already added to the box-office collections.

Today’s audience is a mix of gullible and articulate. They will see a film with a top star, director or production house, preferably on opening day; because they want to form their own opinion. How to get these diehards into the hall is what the PR and marketing machinery has to work out. Today’s audiences are also smart enough to see through a publicity stunt — whether it is engineering a controversy, rigging a romance between the lead pair whose film is about to release, or the soppy interviews that are doled out by the hour — but they will be willing to consume this fakery too, knowing very well that is all a ploy to get that multi-crore opening weekend.

Sometimes, the fans have the last laugh, because they may profess undying admiration for an actor or actress on social media forums, but may not always see their films; because of which there is the strange breed of stars who get mobbed in public, so-called fans clamour for selfies with them, the media trails after them, but they have not had a hit ever, or at least in a very long time. On the other hand, are the mega stars who are so sure of their fan following, that they pay no attention to the quality of their films — their starrers get huge openings anyway, so why would they care?

It is the age of 'make money, be happy'.

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