Friday, October 06, 2006

Shahrukh, DON and Malaysia

When I was in India, I would always read about the popularity of Shahrukh movies abroad. How some of his movies are top 10 in UK and so on. So a typical Shahrukh movie's economics are dictated more by overseas revenues and not so much the domestic circuit. This could be because most Indian NRIs belong to what I had earlier described as the struggler generation.

I have been working in Malaysia for a consulting assignment and I realized that Malays absolutely love Bollywood. In fact the government took steps to curb the popularity of Hindi movies and media at one point of time to promote the local industry. Even the biggest FTA channel there TV3 ( more like a privatized DD) shows a Saturday blockbuster at 2 pm and it is one of their highly viewed shows. For instance last week they showed Naach ( quite a decent watch although it bombed in India). If you ask any Malay right from marketing managers to taxi drivers: their knowledge of Bollywood starts from Shahrukh and ends with Aishwarya Rai. In fact on one of the slides I presented , just an image of Shahrukh conveyed more than my 'bulletpoints'.
When you go to Jakarta, another heaven for pirated DVDs, the only Bollywood ones you will find are Shahrukh combos. And the shop assisitant will give it with a strange kind of amusement where you can see in his face ' you guys from India are so lucky to have Bollywood' kind of stare.
One has to admit whether you like his acting or not, you have to admire Shahrukh's media savvy and sheer smartness when he answers questions or projects his image. Last week ICICI had organized a private banking party in Singapore with Shahrukh and all the major newspapers featured that as one of their big stories. They also ran exclusive interviews with King Khan where he had all the best lines.
And now comes the latest triumph of the superstar and his marketing machine. A copromotion between Celcom ( Malaysia's second largest cellco) and DON movie. It has a whole set of freebies from mobile phones to reward points for certain subscription packages. Yes the movie has been shot largely in Kaula Lumpur gives the movie an added boost. Plus next year is 'Visit Malaysia year' to celebrate 50 years of their independence. And right from the immigration counter you can clearly see the number of Indians who throng Malaysia for its great locations at affordable prices ( Great beaches at half of Goa's price) . So its a great advertisement for Bollywood , not so sure for the telco.
I sometimes wonder if we can sell some Bollywood tourist packages to the Malays. I found this collaboration a true indicator of what globalization is all about. Yes we do pay lip service to it in MBA schools and corporate meetings but there is nothing like experiencing true globalization. And there is one man who leads it from Bollywood. King Khan. I just hope DON delivers for all its hype. We need a true blockbuster from Farhan, the music has anyways captivated everyone.
Blockbuster banana mushkil jaroor hai , namumkin nahi.