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Actors turn singers to further brand equity

LiveMint logoLiveMint 18-04-2017 Lata Jha

New Delhi: For the first promotional leg of its upcoming romantic comedy Meri Pyaari Bindu, producer Yash Raj Films came out with the video of a song sung by lead actor Parineeti Chopra. The romantic number titled Mana Ke Hum Yaar Nahi may be Chopra’s first attempt at singing, but it’s certainly not the rare instance of a Bollywood star, particularly female, taking to the microphone. While Alia Bhatt has sung for films like Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania and Udta Punjab, Shraddha Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha have recorded for Ek Villain and Akira, respectively.

There are two things happening in these cases. First, as Anand Chakravarthy, managing partner at Maxus India, a GroupM India company, said, the best way to market any film across the world is to create buzz and conversation around it very early in its life cycle. “There is a proven correlation between the amount of buzz generated and the first weekend box office. The only reason actors now sing is to create more interest in the work they are doing and to eventually help the film do well. Neither do any of them have a great voice nor do they expect to be appreciated for their singing.”

“I’d like to think so (the strategy would help the film),” said Meri Pyaari Bindu director Akshay Roy. “Parineeti has a huge fan following and for her fans to hear her sing, and so soulfully at that, can only be a bonus. Let’s just say that the creative and organic decision will perhaps help us in terms of the ‘film’s prospects’ which is a win-win situation for us.”

Second, there is a concrete enhancement of the brand equity of the star herself.

“Users today do not want to see a uni-dimensional actor or star,” said Rudrarup Datta, senior vice-president, marketing, Viacom18 Motion Pictures. “Up until ten years ago, a star could come up on stage, dance a bit and get away with it. Today, stars are also personalities in real life. For instance, Alia Bhatt is not just an actor, she’s an influencer and personality and many of her young fans like her beyond just her films. So they would consume her in any format that she comes in.”

When an actor performs or sings, it enhances her overall image as multifaceted and versatile, Datta said, adding a stronger positive sheen to the film and offering a different dimension to the marketing campaign than just straight-jacketed, regular stuff. Like Jackie Chan or Akshay Kumar who are known for doing their own stunts, the point is to demonstrate to the audience that there is another skill worth following the star for.

This, in general, may be linked to the changing sensibilities of the country, especially as far as women are concerned.

“Young actors and actresses, like many other youngsters in India at this point, are multi-talented. There is a very different level of overall confidence in the country where people are able to practise multiple talents in the same career,” said Saurabh Uboweja, chief executive and chief brand strategist at brand consultancy firm Brands of Desire.

“Also, there is more frequency of films centered on females which is an indication of the generation we’re living in where women are coming upfront, are more confident about their personalities and talents and are willing to express more openly,” he said.

While the reach of social media makes such marketing initiatives effective, industry experts said there is need for caution on some counts.

“The strategy definitely helps, like in the case of a Salman Khan with a Main Hoon Hero,” Datta said. “But not when it’s a gimmick that’s used far too often and if the song itself is disastrous. Like Samjhawan (Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania) was already a fabulous composition and Alia added to it. The other truth today is that people see through things very quickly. So if you can’t even hold a tune or if the song is not up to the mark, then it’s an issue.”

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