Advertising and marketing of Indian cinema
The importance of the cinema in India today is both economic and cultural. Cinema is the main form of entertainment for India’s 1.22 billion people, with an estimated ﬁfteen million people attending the cinema each day (Morcom 2008). Indian ﬁlms also have a growing international audience. The advertising of Indian ﬁlms provides a rich window into many facets of Indian society and reﬂects key features of the Indian ﬁlm industry. The distributors play an important role in funding Indian ﬁlms as well as in their advertising and marketing. Distributors are mainly interested in mass-market popular ﬁlms, as they are motivated by covering their costs and earning their commission, understandable when only a small percentage of ﬁlms make a proﬁt. There is a parallel ﬁlm tradition in India, the ‘art ﬁlm,’ which is more realistic and seeks to reﬂect the reality of Indian life. These ﬁlms account for only 10 percent of ﬁlms made (Gokulsing and Dissanayake 2004: 25). This chapter will focus on ﬁlms made for the mass market because they dominate cinema advertising. As in most countries, the stars have become the most important marketing tool of the Indian cinema, though there are particular characteristics of Indian ﬁlms that have a major inﬂuence on ﬁlm advertising, notably the numerous song-anddance sequences. Indian ﬁlms have complex plot lines, non-linear narratives, romance is a central proposition and realism is less important than fast action, entertainment and escape from everyday life (Ganti 2004: 64). The importance of music to ﬁlms has meant that radio airplay of hit songs and the promotion of the soundtrack are central to ﬁlm marketing. Many satellite channels are very ‘dependent on Hindi ﬁlms, ﬁlm music, industry news, celebrity gossip, ﬁlm awards shows and stage shows featuring ﬁlm stars’ (ibid.: 36). Other types of advertising include billboards, posters, magazines and the Internet. Print and billboard advertising focus on stars, genre, gender (strong men and seductive women), action and the core emotional dilemmas deﬁning the plot.