Bollywood cashing in on Brand Anna

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It’s begun – the mad scramble to associate with Brand Anna. Everyone wants a piece of the pie now. Mind you, it’s all still for ‘the cause’ and ‘the man’ – but couched in it is some smart marketing strategy. From games (the Angry Anna one being the latest), to phone apps, to words used in the English language, to even movies – everyone wants Anna.
Bollywood, it seems, is now realising the brand worth of Anna. To begin with, fresh out of an ‘Aarakshan’ battering, Prakash Jha has already announced that his next film is going to be on Anna’s anti-corruption movement. And he is not the only one. John Abraham, ‘force’fully broke a haandi named ‘anti-corruption’ wearing an ‘I am Anna’ cap and waving the national flag – loudly announcing “the chors should be thrown out!” – a scene that doesn’t quite gel with Janamashtami celebrations.
Says Vipul Shah, producer of ‘Force’, “We didn’t know that the Janamashtmi celebrations we went to will resonate so much with Anna sentiments. But that was the mood of the moment and we went with it. The caps were given to us, and we were there to declare our support. I don’t think this was a promotion of the movie at all, because it would be very silly for us to try and promote the film at a platform like this. Promotion tab hota jab John aake Dilli mein perform karta, ya Anna ke paas baith ke ‘Force’ ki baat karta. It was primarily a dahi haandi event, but the sentiment at all public gatherings these days is anti-corruption. Uss din, many stars went to many other dahi haandi celebrations – wearing the Gandhi cap. So why single us out?”
At Ramlila ground, there were people distributing T-shirts with ‘My Friend Anna’ printed on them. It was apparently a ‘movement initiated by fans’ for the Prateik-starrer ‘My Friend Pinto’ that will be releasing in October. The official version, however, is that it was not an attempt to promote the film, but a demand from the fans that the production house had fulfilled. Says Shikha Kapur, senior vice president, marketing, UTV Motion Pictures, “We’ve got thousands of people on our Facebook page, on which we’d put up the poster of ‘My Friend Pinto’ over two months ago. And it was a fan who had actually taken this poster, replaced the word ‘Pinto’ with ‘Anna’, and put up a modified poster. We then asked right there, on that page, what needs to be done, and whether they wanted this printed on a T-shirt and over 90 percent of them said yes, and so, we did just that.”
But doesn’t this sound like surrogate promotion for the film? “Not really,” counters Shikha. “We’ve just aligned ourselves with this popular sentiment, we definitely aren’t cashing in on it.” Adds the film’s director, Raghav Dar, “Had we been promoting the movie on these lines, we’d be there at the venue, seeking visibility. This is a people’s movement, and now a platform where a movie must be promoted. That just wouldn’t be right.” Anna-lyse this, now!