Bank Chor and the art of hit-and-miss self-deprecating promotional strategies in films

In an era when filmmakers are doubly conscious of the communication that their teams give out at public forums or during interviews, it’s astonishing to see that Y-Films, an off shoot of the prestigious Yash Raj Films (YRF), has gone a step further. Or taken one behind maybe?

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The promotional strategy they have employed for their upcoming Riteish Deshmukh and Vivek Oberoi-starrer Bank Chor is nothing sort of revolutionary. It has the potential to either hit the jackpot or backfire. The makers have done something which others normally don’t dare to think of — they have taken digs at their own film and even dubbed it as the worst film. They've called it a film which YRF will be ashamed of. Picture the stuff they have employed as part of their campaign — they came out with an ‘honest’ trailer of the film, made some news by piggy-backing on Shah Rukh Khan’s film poster and a tweet from the superstar, the cast offered their tashreef to be part of a roast – all in the name of pulling viewers towards their film, and chanting all the while that none could be worse than them.

This surely is brave, new stuff to make a film resonate with audiences.

Now the moot question is this: How does the promotional strategy help by deriding and belittling the film itself? To me, this kind of communication around a film is nothing short of very risky proposition, as the audience in India is not quite discerning. Film-goers remain traditional at heart and take time to digest radical views and opinions. When the very same question was posed to Ashish Patil, head honcho of Y-Films, he said, “We are really imandaar people. Why wait for others to take our tashreef when we can do it ourselves. We are hoping, praying, begging and pleading to laugh and the world will laugh with us.” This is not a direct answer, but it is in tune with the grammar of the film.

"We have got nothing to lose, at least someone will have to take notice to engage in backlash,” is what Ashish Patil quipped when asked about the possibility of backlash as a result of the entire campaign. He also credited the origin of the film’s campaign tone to ‘desperation’. Its seems both startling and baffling, as Patil’s statement seems to wash away years of labour, hard work and money pumped in by the film’s makers. The producer of Bank Chor seems to follow Ludwig Wittgenstein, the Austrian philosopher, who once had famously remarked that, “If people never did silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done.”

In an era of trying to gain eyeballs and building a digital footprint, Y-Films has made quite a few web series across different subjects. While their tone remains irreverent, their content is always strong. Is this move to promote Bank Chor in this particular manner also a big visibility-gaining move by the mother ship, Yash Raj Films? Given that it’s the only production house that does not believes in the culture of paid articles, this could be a subtle-but-loaded experiment to launch a whole new way to promote films.

Bank Chor was in the making for the longest time, with murmurs that the content hadn’t worked with Aditya Chopra, the head honcho of YRF. Now that the film is releasing with a delay, and with such an offbeat, bold promotional strategy, it will hopefully pack a punch and surprise.

When a film starts taking a dig at itself, one really wonders why and if at all should one go and watch the film. The very first press release dubbed Bank Chor as India’s stupidest film after the Dhoom franchise, and since then, they have ensured that the communication is the same in all their releases. If this campaign indeed works, we are in for some fresh thinking in Bollywood, at least on the promotions front. The success of this campaign will surely give other filmmakers reasons to throw out conventional and stereotypical methods of promotion, and adopt bold, innovative approaches, which are greatly needed in an otherwise mundane industry.


Published Date: Jun 04, 2017 07:19 pm | Updated Date: Jun 04, 2017 07:19 pm