Bollywood has always been the vanguard of Indian cinema. Not limiting itself to any one region — almost every Bollywood movie is released not just in India, but also overseas. Thus “promotions” is one word that features prominently on the strategy plan of every Bollywood movie way before its release.
Sometimes the promotions begin almost a month before the film’s release. The stars, the director and producer travel to different cities, sometimes even the Middle East, interacting with the press and target audience. However, the definition of promotion in Tollywood is radically different. Tollywood has no such activity, as neither the stars nor the makers are thus inclined. But after the release, they go on a “success tour” to different cities and meet the audiences.
Explaining why the two major film industries vary on promotions, film trade analyst Komal Nahta says, “In Bollywood, the entire business of a film is about the first weekend and the first week’s collections. Everyone wants to recover their money and promotions help in a big way to complete this process.” He adds, “The cultures of the two industries are different; the actors and filmmakers in Bollywood realise the importance of their business. So everyone is ready to go that extra mile to finally translate it into money. While down South, the filmmakers let their films do the talking. In Bollywood, the stars shout from the rooftops before the movie is even released, let alone speak for itself.”
Some filmmakers take promotions very seriously, so often the promotion-spend goes way past the film’s budget. For example, the budget of Jism 2 was `6.7 crore; whereas, the makers spent close to `7 crore just for marketing!
The film’s co-producer and director Pooja Bhatt says, “I feel that filmmakers who are confident of their work don’t need to promote their films in a big way. Only if the product doesn’t generate heat, then they should go out and promote.”
While Bollywood’s aggressive promotions are meant to lure opening weekend audiences, Tollywood prefers to wait in the shadows, as most of the stars don’t promote their films before the release. Success in Tollywood isn’t dependent on the collections of the film, but on the number of days the film runs in theatres.
According to Bollywood director Raj Nidimoru, who is also a producer in Tollywood: “For every film, interaction of the stars with the audience always helps. For Bollywood, their market is huge compared to Tollywood, and to reach out to a wider audience, they start promoting their films way before the release. The huge fan base is the luxury that Tollywood stars have, because of which I think the makers of Tollywood films do not consider promotions. Fans fill up the seats on the first day of the release, if the content is good, others will also watch the film. A tradition Tollywood follows is that after the movie's release, the whole team go to different cities, on what they call a success tour.”
“Bollywood and Tollywood cannot be compared," says top producer Dil Raju. “Bollywood has a huge market, even overseas; this isn’t the case with Tollywood. Bollywood movies are dubbed in different Indian and foreign languages, hence intense promotion is required. Whereas Tollywood is limited to a region, so I don’t see the need for that kind of promotion in Tollywood. But after one or two years, Telugu films will also follow the trend.”
TV channels are the best way to promote Tollywood films, says director-producer Maruthi Dasari. “The only promotions done in Tollywood are through the live telecast of the audio launch or interviews with the stars on various TV channels. As of now, these promotions are adequate for the filmmakers. If there is a big star cast, people will any way watch the film, and the best way a movie is promoted is through word of mouth.”
Bollywood stars have independent interviews scheduled on news channels or are tagged on film review shows on Friday nights. General Entertainment Channels, which have high TRP shows like Comedy Nights with Kapil, dance reality shows, etc. are ideal for featuring stars as guests; now Koffee with Karan too has become part of the strategy.