Saturday, 27 September, 2008

Raj Thackeray : Strategy of its Kind

If you ask any kid or youth in Mumbai thesedays : what is the name of the Vice President of India, one would not be able to answer (even Senior Managers in Corporates), but if you ask him to name a "Top of the Mind" Politician - The answer which immediately comes is "Raj Thackeray".

To an extent that Police, Government and Judiciary has failed miserably to act or react : (refer The Economic Times, 26th Sep, 08) - "Taking serious note of “hooliganism” of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) over the issue of Marathi signboards, the Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the state government why it can’t touch some people. “If you don’t have the political will, then give that message to the people that we cannot do anything,” thundered Justice JN Patel, while slamming the state government for its lax handling of Raj Thackeray-led MNS’ agitation on Marathi signboards. Are some people ‘untouchable’ for you?” Justice Patel asked, as the government could not file a proper reply regarding the action taken. The court also took note of Raj Thackeray’s tirade against joint commissioner of police KL Prasad. “Your home minister has failed to back the police officer,” the court said. Mr Prasad’s remark, “Mumbai kisike baap ki nahin” (Mumbai is not anyone’s personal property) had been ridiculed by Raj Thackeray. He had challenged the top cop to get out of uniform to find out who the city belongs to.

Well, I have been born and brought up amidst the Bengal Politics - The Naxalites, The Communists and the New born - Trinamool Congress of Mamata Banerjee, but havent seen such a fast paced visibility and empowerment of any political leader so far.

Well, the Man is in the news since a past few months, though for a wrong reasons (from a socialistic perspective) be it (1) Anti-North Indian Drama (2) Sign Board Issues (3) Apologies from Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan and much more.But like every corporate, there is a strategy behind this too, and one has to agree that to an extent the same is so far successful. Every new product's most important success ingredient is its Visibility and then ofcourse the content and the value add, but it follows the Visibility thing. Here, the product in question or brand in question is Raj Thakrey / MNS. A new product launched amidst a stiff market competition with stalwart and leading products like the Big Thackeray & Sharad Pawars of the world (There is no one name in the Congress who is "the leader" and so in other parties). Now, imagine a situation for a new Dove Soap to succeed amidst the Lux and Pears of the world and we have seen Dove too come up the curve in the last 2 quarters - We all have seen a lot of visibility around the product and the brand via various marketing communication tools.

The background being the same as above (Soaps and New Political Parties) people do shift loyalties - could be for a new taste, change, incumbency, what ever the reasons be and we have various examples. But if one needs to look at some mathematics behind this Product Strategy, here you go :

Assumption 1 : Out of 100% population - 60% Vote (in the highest side possible)You, me, and most ofmus on the net fall a part of the remaining we are not the Target Audience at all.

Assumption 2 : Out of the 60% Voting population; here some more break-up. Assume, out of 100 % of the Voting Population (60%), (a) 60% of the Voters would be Mumbai / Maharastra domiciled - majority Marathis..(b) 20% which was around 5%-10% are North Indians - thanks to Kripa Shankar Singh, Sanjay Nirupams and Amar Singh's of the world for the high influx in last few years.(c) 10% would be Dalits (again mix of both types) - tilted towards Babasaheb's & Mayamaam's BSP - Hardliners(d) 10% would be from the Gujju / Marwari / hardore Safrons, RSS, BJD, VHPs.From the above 60% - All parties now take their pie, be it NCP, Cong, SS, BJP...But majority in major pockets is either Sena or CongressNow, Raj Thackeray cannot touch (b) and (c) whatever he does. (d) is also somehwhat non-touchable but are important as they fund the game.So, you see the Man not going against the (d) Category at all.At the cost of (b)/(C) Category which he will never be able to woo, he is clearly wooing his share from Category (a) which is / was with his uncle, Sr Thackeray so far and successfully is / will now drift towards him.The Category (a) are the ones who can effect and help the Man setup a strong base and thats what he is successfully doing.He is stepping into the Shoes of the protector of Marathis - which his Uncle was ages back..Well, the best part is that the Govt. is supporting it - as the Game is making them break the Sena Outfit into parts ultimately helping them too in the long run.And, see the stronghold (on brand side now - at his Target Audience) the Man is creating, numbers are sure to follow.

Right Target ; Right Strategy - Every Organization has and so has this...One could not have taken a better agenda to create an Image at such a fast pace... thats the need in the digitized world... All set and done, Rakhee Savant is today making more money than any leading actress of the last egeneration and I need to say anything !

Maybe wrong from Our perspective (Many have called it Goondaraj, Racism at heights) and wrong from the perspective of all educated, corporate people, who may be reading this blog - Who are not the target audience for the strategy : He is right ! Well, many people say that this will not fetch any votes, and MNS will die a natural death.......but BJP took 25 years to become visible amidst the Congress Era....and it has to begin somewhere.... Just check the figures in the past six months : No. of articles / media coverges for Raj vs others, No. of SS loyalist shift to MNS; The next strategy from a Marketing Perspective could be"Raj behind Bars" (rather a self submission one then being arrested)- I am sure even he would have this in mind... this will give a further mileage, but has to be for a good cause - its a matter of going in coming out, till he finds another Agenda (best possible could have been of Shingur like)...and am sure the dynamics of seats in the next elections with NCP, Congress will show the rest.....

Well, did anyone hear about "Raj Thackeray" 1 year back ? No ! And Today ??.......Even miniscule seats he might get will help achive whatever is desired... And lets not forget, these 2-4 make the differences... we all have seen in the past...

Tuesday, 23 September, 2008

Welcome to Sajjanpur - What an Unwelcome Experience !!

It was only about the Man who made movies like Bose, Zubeida, Sardari Begum (for the new gens to remember) otherwise Mandi, Ankur, Suraj ka saatwan ghoda and the Hindi version of Discovery of India : Bharat ek Khoj of Nehru’s fame, one was excited yesterday !

Its 46 Long years Benegal Baabu who has been a Padmashri and Padmabhushan Awardee has been entertaining audiences but of a different kind – the Offbeat ones. He has never been a commercial movie man…. But with his creativity and artistic Bong Mind, he has given some great movies as above by tapping fresh talent mainly from the FTII and NSD like Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Smita Patil, Kulbhushan Kharbanda & Amrish Puri.

It was only one single reason why I took a step ( it was a step post the outcome; else it would have been an initiative ) to go and watch “Welcome to Sajjanpur” and believe me – one thing which I went and checked in the middle of the movie on the poster at the lounge area was that was it really Benegal ?

It was a waste of 3 hours and only because it was Shyam Benegal, I had to respect the art by sitting till the end, unlike my brother who walked out in 40 Minutes.

If I have to analyse what was good in the film and what was bad – Good ? I did not find a single thing (unlike even one babe, one number, one scenic location, one comic scene, one character, if not the whole movie which could be a self-convincing technique post shelling out those monies. ) The only good thing was a different plot of a village and multiple characters – but nothing was new / unknown – Well, if one would have screened ‘3 hrs of crisp mix of the Malgudi Days” it would have been a real treat !

A complete waste of talent like Rajeshwari, Divya Dutt, Ravi Kishan, Yashpal Sharma and Kunal Kapoor. It was only Shreyas Talapade trying to do some acting and Amrita Rao…well, a bird is better than 2 in bushes atleast… She is a decent actress, atleast she tries, but here she was also wasted along with others.

And the best part is, I thought Benegal hai..kuch story ayega…but till “The End” failed to find a story !! Non-sense humor, no plot, no spend on the movie – And the confused director did not understand who the target audience was – Was there any ? And what was the need of putting in songs ?? Or was it a formality as it is no one would have ever bought a music album of the movie !!!

Well, its Shyam babu so am limiting myself further, but the most surprising part was Masand’s verdict with 4/5 Rating on this claiming one of the best movies of the year – Come on, Mr. Masand – this loosens your credibility compared to Taran Adarsh who has rated it 3/5. Well, a strong recommendation to Mr. Masand to take a weekend off and travel to any nearby village, if that was the only thing he was excited to see for the first time. Anyways, if you ask me, with all due respects to the efforts (well not much)by all : I would rate if 1/5. 1 only because of the respect one has for Shyam Benegal and his past records, else it would have been in the minuses.

Saturday, 20 September, 2008

1920 -The Horror Movie - Much Better than Phoonkh

Post much a wait, I finally chose to see "1920" yesterday as there were no good movies on air - "Sajjanpur" was a choice, but chose the former one over it based on some reviews that a couple of scenes were better than RGV's Phoonk! The last one was "a Wednesday" which I quite admired purely because of Naseer's act and the thrilling plot.

Well, to my surprise, I found the movie quite good but could not understand why I did not see it in the first two weeks when I dont give a miss to a flick like "Dhol" or "Dhamaal" even ! It could be because of 1 Key Reason - Being a Marketing Guy, am not biased, but somehow feel Vikram Bhatt Camp failed to use good Marketing Strategy for this film despite having good track record, compared to Ramu, the new generation wannabe of the Ramsays (Zee Horror guys) or the Indian WB ! Remember Raaz, with Bips, which was a decent one.

Well, if I recollect 3 Key aspects of "1920" I personally liked was (1) The Screenplay, Cinematography and Sound Effects - which includes the animations ofcourse(2) The Old Brit India touch in 1920 right from the Horses with furry feet, Tongas, Apparels, Interiors, Props, Looks, Architecture etc. (though BEST Bus / Tram was not a required one) (3) Acting of Adah Sharma- The new girl on the block (Vikram's known for bringing new talent in and she was one which I felt only in the 2nd half of the movie; the first half was the usual girl next door with fair skin ! - She looked like a mix of Vaijayantimala, Sudha Chandran. Also heard about some links between Vikram and her from a close friend in the fraternity.

Though the plot used was a common one, the above factors kept the audience glued to their seats (though 70% of the theatre was unoccupied - would blame the Bhatt's for incorrect Marketing Strategies) only because of the above 3 factors. Some scenes were terrifying and some were hilarious horror, but the audience required their dose of humour to cut the fear at times. Maybe some scenes might seem to be picks from the Hollywood hits, but then too it was a decent job unlike many of our veteran Copy Cat Directors.

Decent Act put in by the Hero - Rajneesh Duggal, Raj Zutshi, Indraneil Sengupta and the Servant Character (Father of Ishaan in Taare Zameen Par) and ofcourse by the Crew in all. Rakhee Sawant Song was not required, but believe Vikram wanted to have one as a formality - you need not follow the herd dude when you have a good act. And last but not the least, besides Item No, Good Characters, Good Horror Scenes (4/5 Scenes) and Better than RGV's Sound Effects, Vikram Bhatt has ensured the blessings for his film by having given important role to Jesus Christ & Lord Hanuman with 2 full recitations of Hanuman Chalisas.

The only thing missing was enough money spent on Promotions and Hype Creation which is mandatory today than having a Script with Content to be a hit (eg. Singh is King). Understand all the above people would have worked out in the Low Budget Matrix of the Bhatt Camp, but this factor could have pulled more people to the theatre - Word of Mouth is now pulling people like us, but hope its not too late !

Am not regretting my choice of "1920" over "Welcome to Sajjanpur" which my brother walked out in 40 Mins, though some family audience with bachhas and housewives was enjoying it - But never mind, might go in for Sajjanpur on a Tuesday !