chapter  15
14 Pages

Advertising and marketing of Indian cinema

WithLynne Ciochetto

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.