There was a time when Bollywood ruled the hearts of audiences worldwide with its phenomenal A-class movies. Action, fights, dialogues, tears, melodrama, interspaced with passionate and melodious songs - all this classy mix made up an Indian movie. The audiences would regale in joy and delight as their favourite actors and actresses would appear in larger-than-life roles on the silver screen.
Who can forget timeless Guru Dutt in Pyaasa (1955), Kaagaz ke Phool (1959) or Mr. and Mrs. ’55 (1955), showman Raj Kapoor in Awaara (1951), Anhonee (1952), Shree 420 (1955), Mera Naam Joker (1970), or Bobby (1973) or megastar Amitabh Bachchan in Sholay (1975), Don (1978), or Coolie (1982).
The ladies of the silver screen would cast their magic equally. Actresses like Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit, Nutan, Nadira, Hema Malini, Dimple Kapadia, and others left their audiences speechless with their performance.
Stalwart directors like Satyajit Ray, Yash Chopra, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Bimal Roy, Mehboob Khan, and Shakti Samanta would leave no stone unturned to see that their films would be flawless pieces of art and cinema that would leave unforgettable memories etched in time.
Let us fast forward to the present era of in-film branding. While I’m sure that the luminaries of the yester years would have strongly objected to or at least expressed their dislike for this trend, the Bollywood that exists today has accepted in-film branding with open arms. After all, who can forget song sequences with billboards of popular western clothing brands in the background or a close-up of a hero while he is sipping his favourite brand of cola?
After all, it helps in the present times, where there is an utter lack of true emotions and spirit in movie-dom. So, when the ‘story’ fails to sell even under a star-studded banner – at least the production house can fall back upon the corporate world to integrate their brands with the film’s ‘script’, so that the movie can endorse the brands or vice-versa – I truly don’t understand which way round is correct in this topsy-turvy world of today.
When it comes to present day movies, one does not really understand if one is watching a film or a 3-hour multi-advertisement campaign reel. For example, a recent movie ‘Veere Di Wedding’ endorsed nearly so many brands in a run time of 125 minutes that a popular daily didn’t hesitate to position the film as a story of ‘4 friends and 400 brands’.
For present-day Bollywood scripts, which have been notorious of being the same yarn spun over and over again and applied with a liberal measure of gloss and fantasy on top of it, the ‘best’ times exist today with in-film branding becoming the norm.
So, whether it is movies like ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’, ‘Yaadein’, ‘Taal’, or ‘Koi Mil Gaya’, brand-endorsement in movies is the new-age formula for commercial success, for it surely rakes in the moolah.
It’s surely a sad state of affairs for Indian cinema. Nevertheless, it’s not all over. Good movies are still released from time to time. Let’s hope there will be a fair balance between narrative, screen play, acting, and in-film branding in the movies that will be released in the future!