COURTING CONTROVERSY CAN BE A TRICKY BUSINESS

It is important to be cautious in the marketing overdrive of films
T. P. Aggarwal
Publisher/MANAGING Editor
 Over the past one week television channels, anchors and print media, are going overboard beaming the same news over and over again about Salman Khan and his so- called “derogatory reference to rape victims” while describing the physically taxing shoot of Sultan.
I am also shocked by the way the media chose to misuse the statement and blow it out of proportions on satellite channels. I am told that post the controversy the YRF team and Salman’s PR team is now analysing the aftermath and looking at his various media interactions and quotes with a magnifying glass to ensure that they are all politically correct but I doubt whether it would make a difference now. Ideally Salman should have ended the matter by offering a brief apology and clarifying that he did not mean it.

Having said that, I would like to emphasise that it is very important for stars to measure their words before making any public statements. I feel sorry when I see some of them blurting out things that they did not mean to and falling prey to the media in the marketing frenzy and overdrive of films. This had happened earlier too when some stars chose to make a passing reference to the issue of intolerance and suddenly found their films being targeted wrong by angry audiences. When stars speak out before the release of a film these days, the intention is of course to promote the film and make sure that it makes the desired impact at the box-office but a slip of tongue can at times backfire and completely shift the focus to an entirely different issue. More importantly, stars being public figures have to be doubly careful about what they say in the media, because it can directly play with their image and their perception in public life. They should learn to be more diplomatic and know that it also pays to be restrained at times.

In that respect, I truly admire the way films were publicised in the olden days, when star interviews had nothing to do with a film’s release and stars would not be seen attending every other do prior to a film’s release. In those days, stars made fewer appearances on public occasions. The interviews they gave were not make-believe and reflected their true personalities and they spoke from the bottom of their heart. They had a tremendous following and anything they endorsed made a difference but that is a bygone era now.


Isn’t the CBFC clearance enough for a safe run of a film at the box-office?
While on the controversies surrounding film releases, I am told that the release of a forthcoming film, Shorgul has been postponed for the third time, in apprehension that the film may create a political outrage with political elements threatening protests outside theatres. A single- screen exhibitor called me up this morning to tell me that he and his other fellow exhibitors are invariably at the receiving end when films with communally sensitive subjects are released and unruly crowds target their ire on the theatres and damage them. From what I know the film has already been cleared by the CBFC with a U/A certificate but we have witnessed in the past too that the CBFC clearance does not assure a producer and exhibitor of protection from law and order problems. Moreover producers who attempt such subjects should make sure that they are not being used by rival political parties to satisfy their vested interests. After all, it is the producer’s hard-earned money which is at stake.

 

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