Over the past few days, people have been finding strange pamphlets inserted into their morning papers.
On one such pamphlet, Wasseypur Mazdoor Vikas Party’s Ramadhir Singh stares at you, with his election symbol, a pickaxe, with the menacing lines: "Mazdoor paida huye, mazdoor hi maroge, vote nadiya humey toh zinda jaloge (you were born a labourer, you will die one, if you don’t vote for me, you will burn alive)."
A few days after these pamphlets surprised readers, another one came up, this time from Wasseypur Yuva Sangathan, with Faizal Khan --- in Ray Ban aviators –-- seeking support for his candidature as an independent candidate. His lines were a clear riposte to Ramadhir Singh’s threat: "Jal kar hum shoal baney hain, kaun jalaayega zinda aapko jab hum aap ke saath khade hain (I have become a flame after being burnt; who can burn you alive when I am beside you)."
There’s a slight catch in these political pamphlets, though. Ramadhir Singh and Faizal Khan are, to the uninitiated, characters from the latest Anurag Kashyap film Gangs of Wasseypur, a dark, and at times comical, saga on the underbelly of Bihar’s coal belt. Ramadhir Singh, a coal contractor turned politician, is played by director Tigmanshu Dhulia, while Faizal Khan’s character has been essayed by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, currently on a dream run after his brilliant portrayals in Kahaani and Paan Singh Tomar.
For those wondering why the pamphlets have come now, when the film is already into its third week, the novel promotional campaign is actually to keep the interest alive for the second part of the 5 hour 20 minute film, Gangs of Wasseypur 2, slated for an August release. It makes eminent sense, therefore, for the second part to be marketed even while the first installment of the film is playing in the theatres to rave audience reactions.
The Manoj Bajpai-Siddiqui-Dhulia-Piyush Mishra movie, set in the coal belt and tracing three generations of a family, has captured the imagination of the nation, complete with its telling punchline “Keh ke lenge”. Clearly a triumphant return for the immensely talented Bajpai, who plays the main character Sardar Khan (Faizal Khan’s father) in Gangs of Wasseypur, the film is typically Kashyap, complete with in-your-face dialogues, a raw, edgy feel and music which is far removed from the usual Hindi film fare.
Says brand expert Jagdeep Kapoor of Samsika Marketing Consultants: “You must remember, Gangs of Wasseypur 2 is not a sequel. It is a continuum. Hence, striking promos such as this keep the audience interest alive even when the first part is playing in the theatres. It’s a great way of ensuring the audience is kept engaged and is looking forward to the next installment of the story.”
Kapoor says this innovative marketing is a powerful way of ensuring repeat audiences for the movie, but there’s also a bigger branding gameplan. “While on one hand it’s a great way of ensuring the next part isn’t missed and the waiting period for the audience is minimized by keeping them engaged with the Wasseypur story and its characters, there’s also a lot of benefit for the mother brand,” says Kapoor.
“This kind of marketing will always be remembered. There will be the association with the mother brand of Anurag Kashyap, and audiences will then remember that an offering from Kashyap in the future shouldn’t be missed. It works a lot for the mother brand, not just the immediate brand in question,” says Kapoor.
Already, taking off from the pamphlets, the same visuals have found their way into posters, looking unmistakably like election campaign posters. The Wasseypur saga plays on, this time between Dhulia’s Ramadhir Singh and Siddiqui’s Faizal Khan.
(Gangs of Wasseypur is a Viacom18 film. Viacom18 is part of Network 18, which owns Firstpost)