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Understanding the target audiences...

By: Moses Navgire, IndiaFM
Thursday, December 14, 2006
With the era of marketing coming in, no matter what you are selling, the prime focus has to be on two words Target Audience. Things aren't different for films either. In fact, filmmaking is one of those businesses where understanding the target audiences is extremely important as the fate of the film completely depends upon the audience's reaction. Besides, the news spreads by word of mouth like wild fire which can either glorify the film or kill it completely.

In a country like India, where there is so much of diversity in the population due to socio-economic and cultural factors, it is immense importance for filmmakers to classify these audiences and understand who will be the right target for their films. And with the wide variety of films that are coming up in Bollywood, we thought of giving you the classifications and descriptions of the types of films that come out in Bollywood. But also note that this is just a general analysis and there is a possibility that the films can be classified into further sub categories.

So let's see what kinds of target audiences for movies exist in India and which of the recent releases catered to each of the categories.
  1. Pan-India Films - These are the kind of films that are accepted by all the classes. Be it the big metropolitan city or the most rustic region of the country, people from both the places easily relate to such films. Films like Rang De Basanti, Lage Raho Munnabhai and Lagaan are some examples of the films that fall in this category. The major reason why these films connect with people of every class is because their message is universal. The point which the filmmaker wishes to make is relevant to everyone, irrespective of their lifestyle. Besides, the manner in which the story is presented onscreen by the filmmaker is also acceptable as it makes sense to all kinds of audiences.
  2. Masses - These are the kind of films that have been crucial for the flourishing of the Hindi Film industry. The films falling into this category sell well among the masses. They have elements of all emotions - drama, comedy, actions etc. and hence these films are popularly known as Masala films. This is mainly escapist cinema and therefore is popular among the masses as it takes the audiences in a completely different world altogether. This world is full of colour, joy, music, love, tragedy and action. All the things that an average person dreams of doing are done by the characters of screen. Everything is larger than life, bright and everything ends well in these films. These films are complete entertainers with a dose of everything. A maximum percentage of films that are made in India come under this category. To name a few, recent films like Humko Deewana Kar Gaye, Naksha, Fanaa and Golmaal will be the films that will fall under the masses category.
  3. Urban - This is one category that has come up in recent times. With the globalization and change of lifestyle and values in the urban areas, there is a considerable difference between the life in an urban city like Mumbai and any rural place in India. These days many films are coming up that are based highly on the "urban" culture in the most advanced cities in the country. Films like Pyaar Ke Side Effects, Bas Ek Pal, Mixed Doubles and Being Cyrus are some of the recent examples that fall into this category. These films mainly have their target audiences from the urban sectors as only they can relate to such films. These kinds of films also work in the semi-urban areas but may not necessarily do well in the outskirts of India.
  4. Festivals oriented - This is a new category of films that has come up in the Indian cinema recently. Earlier, this kind of films was termed as "art films" but now they have taken a different avatar altogether. With the participation of Indian films at the films festivals world over being at an all time high, a new category of festival films is slowly coming up and developing. Screening of these films at festivals provide them the much needed exposure, something which many "art films" were deprived of in the past due to audiences' inclination towards masala movies. Some of the films from this category which released this year are 15th Park Avenue, 13th Floor and Quest. There are some films which have been released in festivals but have still not released in theatres which include Water, The Last Monk and Hope And A Little Sugar. It is not that this kind of festival or art films didn't have a market in India. In the past and even presently, these films have a niche market for themselves. Interestingly, one good change which is happening is that some of the famous stars from the commercial Bollywood cinema are now keen on being part of these films. The recent examples include John Abraham in Water and Nandita Das and Atul Kulkarni in Maati Maay, which is a Marathi film by Chitra Palekar.
  5. Low grade Sleazy films- The low grade, soft porn films has always had a small but religious segment of target audiences. These films are mainly low budget, with hardly any focus of creativity as the basic aim is to just sell sex. But though they have low production value, these movies do make profits from smaller sectors and a select few theatres in urban areas, which are devoted to play only sleazy films. The breakthrough that has happened recently is that the budget and production value of some films in this category has increased. Unlike in the past, these days you'll notice promotions of these soft porn films is being done through mass media. In fact, some of the actresses who are part of such C-Grade films are now getting publicity and becoming known faces. The manner is which they do it though is controversial at times. Mona Chopra and Payal Rohatgi are two actresses who have pulled enough of attention for themselves though they mainly star in the sleazy films. This year's sleazy stock includes Bhokh-The Hunger Of Body, Chumbam- The Kiss, Free Entry, Haseena- Smart Sexy Dangerous, Husn, Love and Betrayal, Item Girl and Kaamwali. Though all the classy audiences and most of the masses may refrain even from looking at the posters of such movies, the producers of the C-grade sleazy movies have also started to get greater exposure for their films through mass media. Today, these films are getting the highest publicity among masses than they ever did as the producers are ready to invest more for the promotions.
Looking at the above categories, one of the conclusions that we reach to is that today, every kind of film has an audience for it. It is just up to the filmmakers that they set their target audience well and work on selling their films to that particular set of viewers. The way you market your film has also become an important aspect apart from what the content of the movie is.

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