Rajinikanth’s Kabali is undoubtedly the biggest release in Tamil cinema this year and the hype around the film is only growing stronger as it nears its 22 July date with the theatres. Rajinikanth himself has not appeared so far for any promotional activities of the film (he is currently in the US) and has distanced himself from endorsements of any kind. However, that hasn't stopped brands from wanting to cash in on his popularity. Even before Kabali releases, there have been a spate of products themed on the film and Rajinikanth.
Even Hollywood seems keen on sharing a slice of the pie, if the new trailer of Ice Age: Collision Course is anything to go by. We find Sid, Manny and Diego lip-syncing to the super hit ‘Neruppu Da’ in the mash-up trailer, interspersed with visuals from Kabali promos. The makers of the movie are marketing the video as a tribute to the ‘Thalaivar’.
Recently, Air Asia had launched special Kabali-themed aircrafts to fly passengers to catch the first show of the movie upon its release. Amar Abrol, the CEO of Air Asia, India told CNN News 18, “The script of the film demanded the utilisation of an aircraft. The production house approached us, if as an airline, we would want to participate and we absolutely pounced on the idea. We decided that this was the best opportunity to dedicate an entire plane to the icon, to the star himself.”
The Air Asia plane that will fly from Bengaluru to Chennai, will play music from the movie and serve a special ‘Kabali meal’. Guests on the flight will get a miniature model of the plane along with a Kabali mug before being escorted to the movie hall to catch their favourite star in action.
Telecom service providers Airtel too have come up with Kabali SIM cards, caller tunes and recharge packs with unlimited internet. A separate SMS channel of the company will take wishes from callers, which will later be presented to Rajinikanth as a coffee table book. Airtel also plans to come up with a 3D holographic van that would go around the state, screening promotional visuals of the movie and interviews with its actors, George Mathen, Bharti Airtel’s Hub CEO of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, announced at a press conference on Tuesday.
Kerala-based non-banking financial company, Muthoot Fincorp, which is also an associate sponsor of the film, is looking at investing around Rs 20 crore in silver coins and pendants embossed with Rajinikanth’s image. The five, 10 and 20-gram coins will be made available in the company’s outlets from the day of the film’s release. “Rajinikanth cuts across all segments of the society and has a solid image. Being a company catering to the middle and the lower income classes, we want to associate ourselves with that image,” the executive vice president of Muthoot Fincorp Limited S Kannan said of the tie-up.
PVR cinemas too have associated themselves with the film as the official multiplex partner. Posters of the film bearing the logo of the multiplex and other Kabali merchandise will be made available for fans at the multiplex.
A mobile accessories platform based in Chennai, ‘Cover it Up’ has also tied up with the makers of the movie to feature funky Kabali-themed merchandise on its website. Chennai Gaga, a souvenir store is selling Kabali T-shirts featuring Rajinikanth.
The makers of Kabali say they have been looking for ‘uniqueness’ and ‘innovation’ before collaborating with a particular brand. “All the tie-ups came about based on how the movie developed. We have an icon in the movie, which is Rajinikanth. Normally the brands always reach out to the best,” points out D Paranthaman, the CEO of V Creations and the son of the film’s producer Kalaippuli S Thanu. “We have professionals who are handling such tie-ups. We have good content, so it is easy for us to connect with everyone,” Paranthaman adds.
Reports suggest that many other brands have approached the makers to collaborate with the movie. Buzz is that the newly-floated Tamil Nadu Premier League has also approached the makers to use the viral hit ‘Neruppu Da’ as an anthem.
The producers, however, maintain that there is no commercial benefit from such partnerships. “Frankly, the brands are using the movie to promote their products. At the same time we also get publicity for the movie,” Paranthaman says.
Kabali, which stars Rajinikanth and Radhika Apte in the lead roles, will release on 22 July. The movie is being dubbed into Hindi, Malay, Mandarin and Thai.