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Bollywood for sale!

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By: Shweta Vepa, IndiaFM

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Everyone wants a piece of Bollywood today. Quite literally! And what better way than movie merchandise. Moving ahead with their counterparts in Hollywood, our desi film producers too have realized that movie merchandising is a profitable proposition.

Most of the big banner films nowadays have been coming up with movie merchandise to supplement their marketing strategies. And if you think that the practice is something new, you're mistaken! You will be surprised to know that the concept of movie merchandising existed in Bollywood, way back in 1973, when the Rishi-Dimple starrer, Bobby released. At that time itself, the hair clips and pins, worn by the beautiful Dimple Kapadia, could be bought by fans. And considering the craze that Dimple's look had generated, we can imagine how many takers there were.

Coming back to the current scenario, the movie that did it in recent times was Arjun Sablok's Na Tum Jaano Na Hum. Remember the little stuffed toy, christened 'Tutu'? Unlike the film, at least Tutu was quite a hit, and managed to sell a cool 80,000 pieces! Mujhse Dosti Karogi, which released around the same time, was based on the theme of love and friendship. The film was promoted using friendship bands that the actors are seen with in the film.

At the time of the release of Ram Gopal Varma's Bhoot, 'Bhoot Dolls' were available in stores. This very doll was seen with the child who played the bhoot in the film. Needless to say, they were quite a hit!

The easiest way of movie merchandising is to auction the costumes worn by the actors. Another option is to replicate them and put them up for sale. For Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon, Rajshri replicated Kareena's outfits and put them up for sale at all the Pantaloon's outlets. The same was done for Kareena's outfits from Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai. Most of the films from the Subhash Ghai camp post Pardes, have also given in to this trend. Be it Pardes, Taal, Yaadein or Badhai Ho Badhai, costumes and accessories, identical to those worn by the actresses were available at 50 odd Biba outlets, across the country. Biba had similar tie-ups with The Hero and Baghban. Replicas of the clothes worn by the actresses could be bought at the outlets.

A movie that banked on merchandising in a big way was Yash Raj Films' Hum Tum. The two lovable cartoons were found on everything from caps to bags, apart from gracing a comic strip in a leading daily. The characters Hum and Tum went a long way in popularizing the movie with the masses.

If we have a look at most of the movies churned out in 2005, they all made the smart use of merchandise for promotion. The makers of the Amitabh-Akshay starrer Waqt, came out with a stuffed toy named 'Gerri the Giraffe.' In the film, a chronically ill-Amitabh Bachchan, who owns a toy store, gets the same stuffed toy for his grandson. It proved to be quite a clever strategy.

Yash Raj Films' Salaam Namaste capitalized on funky coffee mugs that Saif and Preity are seen with in the movie. Ditto for Garam Masala, which saw a Diwali release. Then there was Balaji's Koi Aap Sa, which tied up with a jewellery brand to create 'friendship rings.' The movie which had the most successful merchandise, last year, was PPC and Sahara One's Hanuman. Apart from the usual stationery, what became really popular were the Hanuman dolls and accessories.

The current year also had its share of merchandise. One of the biggest movies of the year, Krrish, was not to be left behind, of course. A 'Krrish doll' was specially created and was loved by kids and adults, alike. Apart from that, fans could buy Krrish masks, key chains, coloring books, watches, activity books, school bags and T-shirts. The prequel to the movie, i.e. Koi Mil Gaya had done the same. At that time, 'Jadoo' Tiffin boxes and stationery could be bought.

And of course there was Fanaa, which had three movie related products. There was the Mirchi Pendant which Aamir is seen wearing, a cup-saucer set and a ceramic mug with autographed pictures of the stars. In fact, Yash Raj has gone ahead and launched a new division - Yash Raj Films Merchandise. If the buzz is to be believed, Karan Johar's Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna will also have mugs, key-chains and pens for sale, pretty soon.

There are many reasons for film producers venturing into the arena of film merchandise. For starters, it definitely adds up to the profits. By flooding the market with movie-centric products, the movie gets more visibility, which is always welcome. When the audience sees a product they have seen in the movie, there is an immediate emotional connection with the film. For instance, the idea of selling 'Gerri the Giraffe' from Waqt was definitely playing on the audiences emotions. It can have its flip side, as well. Some of the products may not necessarily appeal to the adult audience. They would not have much use for a toy! This is probably the reason why products aimed at kids, are always successful. Hanuman and Krrish are prime examples.

However the bottom line is that producers have definitely benefited by launching their movies' merchandise. The market for this business has a lot of potential. So, it is definitely a money spinning venture. In Hollywood, many a times the movie merchandise rakes in as much moolah as the ticket sales. While, it hasn't reached such great heights back home, it's a start, at least. 

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