Padmavati to Padmaavat and everything in-between
Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
So as suddenly as it had erupted, the Padmavati/Padmaavat row has died. This makes me think. What was it all about, why was it? Why were people so agitated over a movie, a film that its producer said was historical fiction? How, suddenly, after the movie is screened and has already made some Rs 125 crore at the box office, all agitations have died. Is it because people have seen it and found nothing “offensive”? I wonder if even one Karni Sena guy went to watch to the movie. I mean going by their comments it seems improbable. So what’s it. What caused it and what silenced it. The answer I get shocks me. Wasn’t it a top-notch marketing strategy?
First things first… If the movie is historical fiction, why were the characters not given different names? Why give them names of real historical characters that existed at some point of time, those that are much revered by all generations even today? What has “freedom of expression” got to do with this? And in any case, is freedom of expression more important that the lives of the people?
The more I think about it, the more I tend to believe that it was plain simple strategy. A producer makes a mega movie, spends Rs 215 crore on it, and after he is finished with it develops nagging doubts about its earning potential….will it be a success? What if it isn’t? How do I recover the money that has gone into its making? Going by his past record (both Jodha Akbar and Bajirao Mastani weren’t very successful despite their grand sets, great acting and “forlorn in love” protagonists), he couldn’t have hoped much in this. So what’s the best way to make people reach the nearest cinema hall for the first day first show? How to arouse the curiosity of common people towards the film? Rake up a controversy? Yes. That’s the easiest way to attract people. What if a couple of hundreds get injured in the process, some die or there is loss to public property and law and order problem in some states? It doesn’t matter. All is well that ends well. If in the end you get to pocket hundreds of crores, how does the loss of a few unknown lives and loss to the exchequer matter? Aah, it doesn’t.
So that was it. A solid, cold marketing plan, to first spread rumours that a particular section of the society (Rajputs in this case) have been shown in bad light, and then sit back and enjoy it snowballing into a major row. Witness reams and reams of newsprint dedicated to the film, not just in English and Hindi but in all the vernacular languages across the country, even abroad. Watch news channels discussing about the film during their prime time, for days on end. And enjoy the scores of comments in social media, that runs almost parallel to the main media these days. If you see the film slipping out of the headlines, stoke fire (remember the attack on the school bus?) to bring it back to the forefront.
The curiosity is heightened so much that it generates massive public interest. Result: The first day theatres run houseful. The movie sells like a hot cake. People throng the theatres, and then come out and wonder what was the ruckus all about? For, it is just another film…with grand sets and solid acting. So the viewers who came out of theatres told their brethren “to go watch the movie as it is all about pride and honour of Rajputs. Not an iota of insults, please watch it”. And almost everyone makes a beeline for the film, that, I am sure wouldn’t have been possible had there not been a controversy.
According to a Times Of India report: Padmaavat that hit theatres on January 25, recording an estimated collection of Rs 14.25 crore on its first Monday, is all set to become the highest grosser of all times, outside Baahubali 2: The Conclusion. The box office numbers are rising, and all eyes are now set on the 200 crore mark.
On the international front too, the film has already claimed the top spot to become Bollywood’s highest opening weekend overseas. Taking into account the paid preview shows, the film reportedly earned a record-breaking collection of $11.60 million.
An added advantage is that the filmmaker is being talked about too. For some, he is ‘poor soul’ for others a “villain” but good or bad, publicity is always welcome, it keeps you in “news”.
At the end, as the commonman stands like a fool, the filmmaker enjoys the last laugh. He sees his coffers filling up, and his mind is working overtime on what his next “historical” venture would be!
For those who don’t agree with me (I am sure there would be plenty) I just have one question: if the film is depicting Rajput pride and valour, who spread rumours that it is insulting Rajputs? Obviously the one who knows the content of the film…and who knows the content??
Got it? Yes. My point!