12:00 AM, December 26, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 26, 2008

Marketing 101 Innovative ways to promote films

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Pallab Bhattacharya, New Delhi

“Santa Goes Green” by Anne Margaret Lewis.

Aamir Khan as barber in a posh central Delhi locality giving scores of his fans a haircut similar to the one he sports in the film "Ghajini" and Akshay Kumar carrying the torch of the Olympic World Winter Games for differently-abled children -- these are the new marketing techniques Bollywood has come up with to promote movies.
Khan set up a makeshift stall in the Bengali Market locality of Delhi and personally held the clippers for a few hours over the weekend to give his fans -- young and middle-aged -- the ultra-short cropped hair he has in "Ghajini" ahead of its release on Christmas Day. The makers of the movie have also tied up with owners of multiplexes, restaurant chains across India to give waiters, ushers and ticket sellers the same haircut.
The superstar also encouraged onlookers to get a haircut from him and joked around with them as part of the promo of "Ghajini," billed as one of the biggest releases of Bollywood this year. It is rarely that the usually reclusive Aamir Khan appears in public, but he made an exception when it came to promoting "Ghajini".
Bollywood analysts say a major reason for Aamir's actions is that he wanted to ensure box office success for the film which is being released hot on the heels of "Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi" starring Shah Rukh Khan, given the intense competition between the two Khans for the top spot in the film industry.
About ten kilometer away, Akshay Kumar, riding on the box office success of his last film "Singh is Kinng," ran with the official torch "Flame of Hope" of the 2009 Special Olympics from the historic Red Fort to Chandi Chowk, the old Delhi locality he was born in, apparently to promote his forthcoming film "Chandni Chowk to China" which is set for release in January.
Akshay is denying it was part of a promo, as he was running with the torch for a cause dear to his heart. He says it is purely coincidence that the torch will travel from Chandni Chowk to Shanghai.
However good the film is, marketing matters a lot, says a Bollywood trade analyst and pointed to the success of small-budget movies like "Welcome to Sajjanpur" directed by veteran Shyam Benegal and "Aamir," Aamir Khan's maiden production.
Bollywood's big production houses set aside a huge chunk of their budget for packaging a film ahead of its release either through interactive television shows or any other novel strategy.

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