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`Hits’ before they’re released

MUMBAI, JUNE 28: Want to find out how many records Biwi No.1 has broken all across the country? Collections, facts, euphoria, hype? Just ...

Written by Deepa Deosthalee |
June 29, 1999

MUMBAI, JUNE 28: Want to find out how many records Biwi No.1 has broken all across the country? Collections, facts, euphoria, hype? Just snap on to the Net and zoom into biwino1.com. Or, maybe you’re eager to know what motivated cinematographer Santosh Sivan to make Terrorist and the hardships he faced trying to realise his dream? The answer lies with terrorist-thefilm.com, where the director speaks extensively of his highly acclaimed flick. Or then if you want first-hand `reviews’ and instant feedback from movie-buffs on Bollywood’s latest darling, the website on Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam provides you with a daily update on audience reactions to the film.

While television promos were the raging fad in the early ’90s, netbiz seems to be the buzz word at the turn of the millennium. Information-heavy websites – stuffed with pictures, postcards, fact-files, interviews, trailors and contests – targetting an ever-increasing tribe of netizens, are fast becoming essential components ofevery film’s publicity package. So much so that websites addresses seem a mandatory element of even press ads and publicity posters.

“The Internet offers great possibilities for disemminating information on a film — from previews and promos to shooting schedules and star profiles,” says Nabeel Abbas of Endeavour, the company that has created sites for films like Silsila Hai Pyar Ka, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Mann.

Adds Shringar Films’ Shyam Shroff who has put up the Terrorist website, “For films like mine, the target audience is fixed. And given the fact that it’s a small-budget venture, one really cannot spend huge amounts on advertising. With my website, I’m getting across everything people need to know about the film.”

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Besides, film-makers have now discovered that the Internet is the quickest and best means to newer business opportunities. Says Ashok Thakeria, the producer of Mann, “Considering the fact that Hindi films have a huge overseas market, websites havealmost become essential for us to reach audiences worldwide. Indians living abroad don’t have easy access to satellite teleivision like we do, which means the only way they can find out about a Hindi film is from the Net.” He points out that the extent of impact the net can create is borne out by the fact that mannthefilm.com has registered 56,000 hits in just 10 days.

“Producers get trade enquires from all kinds of places — from Morocco to Madrid. Eventually, the Internet will play a significant role in widening the audience base for Hindi films,” says Abbas. And even after a film has come and flopped, the producer can still cash in on various other distribution avenues like satellite and video rights — which means the site doesn’t get outdated in a hurry.

Till recently however, not many in the industry took this medium seriously enough, and the general quality of film-related websites was not up to the mark. Especially when compared to hi-tech graphic-heavy websites promoting Hollywood films.“Producers are not open to suggestions unless they have something in it for them. Which is why no one took the Internet seriously and the money on offer for designing websites was pathetic. Naturally, that affected the quality of output,” says Abbas.

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But now everyone is jumping on to the bandwagon in a hurry to cash in on this cyber goose. “The key is to create uncomplicated systems and ensure regular updates. Even now there are certain sites that need special software to download visuals and graphics. The best thing to do is keep it simple and easy,” says Abbas.

Tid-bytes from the film websites

humdildechukesanam: Feedback and reviews by viwers that are updated every day.

pmkk.com: A trip to Hong Kong, provided surfers answer an all-important question

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biwino1.com: 32 stills from the film, plus dope on the collections

subhashghai.com: All you wanted to know about “star-maker” Subhash Ghai, plus a bit about his latest opusTaal.

yashrajfilms.com: Information on the launch of Aditya Chopra’s Mohabbatein, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan.

terrorist-thefilm.com: The number of awards the film has won.

mannthefilm.com: Postcards and e-greeting cards.

dilse.com: A treatise on the seven shades of love.

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First published on: 29-06-1999 at 12:00:00 am

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