Jalsa , Mumbai July 12, 2011 Tue 8:30 PM
Promoting films has become as important and time consuming as making them ! The element of bringing to notice this vast multitude and inviting them to come and see it within a week, for that is the duration of most films these days, at least as an indicator for their commercial prospects, has now become the yardstick. We never had it in our time and neither were we ever conscious of it. It was left to the producer and the distributor how it needed to be exploited. But times have changed now. There is greater awareness as far as communication goes ; mediums of which have increased a million fold. The funding and the investment involved is too large to be given space and time for 25 or 50 weeks to gain recovery. The popularity and the time span for films or for that matter any other communication device has limitations. On Tv, by the evening the most important news gets stale. On film, the very next week people are talking of the next release. Speed and attention have reduced our mind set to get over any aspect with a certain rapidity and move on. Move on because, there is something to move on to. It wasn’t so in the earlier days. And so we succumb to the dictat of the times. Television, the radio waves, internet, mobiles, have all taken up the space that had lain vacant and not utilized.
We live in a world where quick fixes, quick results, rapid speech, immediate reaction and result are the desired elements. Bless the new generation and change. Without fresh thought and change there would be no progress. Rapid speed brings in a vacuum. And those that cannot attach themselves to the pace, will live and suffer in that bottomless, airless space. Perhaps to be able to just breathe sufficiently well, but never move on. Catch up ! or Shut up !
The process is repetitive. The same questions answered with the same content, but with a face and expression as though it is being heard for the first time. Much like acting in front of the camera. The greatest test for any actor is to play his lines when ‘action’ is activated in a manner that suggests that they are being heard for the first time. They are not, but. We get them months ahead and at least days before it is going to be shot. We also live with them on set, rehearse several times, give retakes of it, but each time it is played, it is played as though it is being heard for the first time. The expression and the performance then, is the real test of an accomplished actor.
Rajni , Rajnikant never indulges in this practice. The practice of promotions. And on occasion when we talk film informally, he often questions me as to why I do this. Its like selling yourself like a product he often tells me. We laugh over it, but I explain to him that he is Rajnikant, he does not need it. For him it happens on its own. For lesser mortals like us we need to excite audiences, to propel them to take interest, to get them into the theaters !!
Great marketing minds and professionals work round the clock, monitoring, researching, what works and why and how a film needs to be sold to this very large and diverse audience. Extensive plannings are put in place and many serious discussions occur on design timings, opposition, pitch and many other such technical terms of which I am not too familiar. I would imagine the need to exist and to excel, propels us into all aspects of its achievements. Existentialism. In a philosophical sense - to exist as a free responsible agent determining their own development through independent will. Jean Paul Satre would probably whack me for bringing this theory in, through his popularized writings. But in an abstract way the power of independent will, does creep into this whole process of self aggrandizement and sale !!
Many ask me the need to do this, for, does it not hurt the entire theory of enigmatic presence, often related to celebrities in the medium of film. I joke with them and respond by saying that at age 70 what is the enigma you talk of. Life has become so informed, the whole mystique of the star value has been reduced to a click of a mobile camera phone !! You cannot go anywhere without being recorded for posterity. The paparazzi will and is omnipresent. It is the need of the hour. Not so much for us than for them and the media they represent … or sell to ! Competition in media is so acute, especially in the electronic that every little matter becomes matter of substance. And if it does not become it is made to become. That is the nature of the business and the opportunity and the freedom to run is entirely theirs.
The film ‘Rann’ did bring in this element. The media is the conscience of the nation. It is also a flourishing business. Do you then, compromise with your conscience to enhance your business, or compromise with your business to protect the purity of your conscience ! And today is it not ironic that the largest media group in the world - the empire of Rupert Murdock - falls prey to exactly that. Exposed and admitted that they conducted malpractices for the sake of sensational tabloid press. Of buying up silence to wrong deeds, even to the extent of hacking information from the dead !!
The power and control of public information and the strength it executes in guiding and ruling Governments, decisions that shall affect millions, putting people in postions of extreme execution … all controlled by one man and his intricate and well managed empire, the media !! That is a a very large price for humanity to pay.
And I ask today. When the largest and most respected institution of the fourth estate, indulges in such practice, is it too far fetched to naively believe that it does not happen at other destinations too, that are relatively lesser in profile. Rajdeep Sardesai and his wife Sagarika Ghosh who are the leading anchor journalists at CNNiBN did very bravely put this question out on their respective twitter accounts, but I never saw any responses to it of relevance. Have they inadvertently put their finger on a raw nerve ? Very fairly too, some of the more mature channels have held debates on the topic at prime time hours and reached some public opinion, interspersed withcommercial breaks and mobile phone ins that create revenue. Even when they put out their own adversity, they make money ! The dichotomy of business and conscience plays here too, not too far away from the basic theme of a film that was rated on their own channel as a failure !!! Am I permitted to express a wry smile here, or will that be taken as a transgression towards media ethics from an outsider ???
There is much to speak out, but better judgement and prudence restrains me, as it indeed must. Prudence, because you never take on the media. The fear of repercussions against you at personal and professional levels is too large. You fear them because they control public opinion. For those in public life it is akin to committing harakiri. You shall never be able to match their power and strength. You either sleep with them, or prepare to sleep in a grave.
People in public life are exalted beings. Pedestalled, admired and loved. The commerce in media will only result when these exalted beings are brought down through fourth estate exposes. Writing good about the good is bad business. We are all humans, prone to mistake and error. We shall always be vulnerable. Best then to admit defeat and bear in silence, or conversely mollify them to keep their wrath at bay … much like what many did, as is now heard, with Rupert Murdock …
In peace and in extreme love towards the media ….