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Last Updated: Monday, 14 July, 2003, 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK
Bollywood gets message across

Ayanjit Sen
BBC correspondent in Delhi

Film phone message
Bollywood has found a new, cost-effective way to publicise Hindi films - through mobile phone text messages.

Leading film-makers say teaser messages can generate a lot of publicity, especially for thrillers.

The use of messages for film publicity began in Bollywood with the film Kaante (Thorns).

The producer of the film - Sanjay Gupta - said he created suspense by sending out a Short Message Service (SMS) quiz about who was responsible for betraying the group of bank robbers at the centre of the plot.

"People started discussing the film as the SMS messages did the rounds and it spread like wildfire," Mr Gupta told the BBC.

If the message is funny and interesting, it can do wonders for the film
Parul Gosain, PR agent

"It was free publicity for us," he said.

Mr Gupta intends to do a similar thing with his forthcoming film Plan, starring Sanjay Dutt and Dino Morea.

But directors like Prakash Jha are still not sure about the impact of the publicity tool.

"Though it is a good idea to spread awareness about a forthcoming thriller, it can also prove to be a double-edged sword, with somebody leaking the climax of the movie before it is released," he said.

He said the tool could not be used for every movie and would be effective only with thriller and suspense movies.

But Mr Jha still intends to use messages for his forthcoming film Gangajal (Ganges water), starring Ajay Devgan and Gracy Singh.

Misleading

Industry experts say SMS is a personalised medium that people can easily associate with, compared to other mediums like posters, billboards and adverts.

Shahrukh Khan
Shahrukh Khan: his latest film saw some incorrect information

Nevertheless, some SMS messages can be misleading.

One about the film Chalte Chalte (Passing By) says: "Shahrukh Khan gets divorced from Karishma Kapoor and falls in love with Rani Mukherjee."

Karishma Kapoor is not even in the film.

A few days before a psychological thriller Bhoot (Ghost) was released, several messages about the film did the rounds.

One said falsely that actor Ajay Devgan killed his onscreen wife Urmila Matondkar.

Experts say film-makers give different versions of the ending to generate publicity and to thwart anyone deliberately trying to give away the finale.

"It is a good marketing tool, with mobile phone subscribers increasing day by day," said Parul Gosain, head of a public relations agency in Bombay, also known as Mumbai.

"If the message is funny and interesting, it can do wonders for the film," said Ms Gosain, who handles public relations for some leading Bollywood film stars.

She said that even if some people gave away the ending, it added to the publicity.

Ms Gosain said she was going to use SMS for two forthcoming films.


SEE ALSO:
Bollywood Austen film goes global
11 Jul 03  |  Entertainment
Bollywood's merchandising drive
27 Jun 03  |  Entertainment
Shahrukh Khan goes global
23 Aug 02  |  Entertainment
Bollywood takes South Africa
06 Jun 03  |  Entertainment


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