The teaser ads last Thursday showed just a bald head inside a cardboard box with a caption saying ‘See you in December’. But that was enough to make Paa a part of everyday conversation.
Such teaser ads, normally associated with an FMCG product, are being used for the promotion of a film for the first time, that too more than a month before the actual release date. Paa, in which Amitabh Bachchan plays the role of a 13-year-old boy with an extremely rare genetic defect that causes accelerated ageing, has many other firsts to its credit.
For one, the Big B is planning to visit schools to educate children about the disease called progeria which makes a person look five times older than his actual age. Says ad veteran R Balki who has directed the film and is the brain behind the campaign: “The story is sensitive, so we have to avoid the usual razzmatazz associated with a Bollywood movie”.
But Balki, who had directed Bachchan in another movie called Chinee Kum, is thrilled with the response that the teaser ads have generated. “The noise level has beaten our expectations,” he says.
It’s also the first time that Aishwarya Rai (Bachhan’s daughter-in-law) will take on the role of overseeing the promotion of the film, which has been co-produced by ABCL Ltd (making it a home venture) and Reliance Entertainment.
In yet another novel experiment, instead of the usual credit titles, Jaya Bachchan will be introducing the cast and crew of the film. Though used in Hollywood, this is the first time that a Bollywood movie will do this.
The content of the film, a emotional story of a father and son, itself is unique – apart from Bachchan playing a 13-year old boy, his son, Abhisek, will the play the role of his father — a big enough reason promoted subtly to generate curiosity.
And all this has been achieved without much cost, says Balki. “Everything has been taken care of by the novelty element which has got people talking. More than making an expensive campaign, our idea was to design it in such a way that more than Bachchan, it’s his character that people talk about,” Balki says.
In any case, the most expensive element in the Rs 16 crore film (the low budget is understandable as it’s a home venture of the two main stars) was Bachchan’s make-up which cost 10 per cent of the total budget. No wonder it used to take four hours to put on the make-up and two hours to remove it.
Analysts say the clever campaigning has done exactly what Balki wanted – Brand Paa has become bigger than the superstar.
Hiren Pandit, Managing Partner of Group M, thinks it’s a brilliantly executed campaign. “The production houses know that the high point of Paa is Bachchan's character and look in the film. So the campaign is a build-up to that selling point. This has been backed by great PR initiatives which are creating a huge curiosity,” Pandit says.
The other important contributor to the fim’s promotion is its highly interactive website – paathefilm.com. The question – Do you like Amitabh’s Paa look? — has got record response over the last four days.
It’s also for the first time that the Big B is promoting any of his films on his blog.
Film promotion, clearly, has never reached such heights before.