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My innovative marketing strategy
For the Tamil blockbuster Chandramukhi in Bollywood had worked wonders for me and in no time had earned me more mileage than I have actually anticipated..Suddenly,everyone in Mumabi film industry started talking about it’s proposed Hindi remake..
In a way,Chandramukhi became the talk of Bollywood town..Later,it didn’t take much time for me to realize that I have created enough speculation in the market,about my film,and it’s time for me to change the gear..Having realized that,I have strategically released the following news to the Bollywood media..
“Creative Commercials,a leading production house of South India had bagged the Hindi remake rights of the much talked about Rajanikanth starrer,Chandramukhi..While K.S.Rama Rao would be producing the film in Hindi,Narrenaditya,a leading ad film maker from South,would be directing it..The director had a meeting with Sharukh Khan,who is considering playing Rajanikanth’s character in the Hindi version”..
You should have seen the response to this news live with me in Mumbai,those days.. Overnight I became a much sought after guy by the Bollywood media..Everyone wanted to take my interview and everyone wanted to write about me and my film..My PR man’s mobile was never allowed to relax,after that news..
He was constantly harassed by almost every newspaper and Bollywood magazine in Mumbai to give my contact details..However,I was not keen on giving any interview,at that time,to any newspaper and had in fact decided to play an altogether newer game to increase my demand in the market..
As a result,I told my PR man,”Sarmaji,with my enormous working experience in Mumbai,I know how Bollywood media works..It always chases people who are hot in news..The management also forces it’s staff to grab such hot people and write about them..
Sensational news is the USP here..These journalists too,in turn,vie with each other and go to any extent to take the interview of a person who is always talked about in the film industry..Am I right,Sarmaji..???
Now,tell everyone in the media,who is asking you for my contact details,that am not not at all interested in talking to them,at least at this point of time..I know the more I deny them,the hotter I become and the hotter I become,the more eager they become..Hahaha..”..
Sarmaji too smiled and later implemented my game plan to utmost perfection..I know I was playing a dangerous game but as always I also loved playing it..As expected,I became hotter in the media with one news or the other about Chandramukhi appearing almost everyday in the news columns..
As a result,I started receiving,due to my PR man,many compliments,congratulatory messages and also best wishes from many big names of Bollywood for my film..
Although every call I received those days was memorable,that one phone call from director Vipul Shah was unforgettable..He really spoke his heart out and shared with me some of his good,bad and also his ugly experiences in the film industry..PERIOD
I was literally doing everything that I can
To garner the media attention and also the biggies of Bollywood’s attention,however,I was praying for that one phone call from Sharukh Khan’s office,which I had eventually got on the twentieth of August, 2005..
Sushmaji,Sharukh’s personal secretary was on line..To my pleasant surprise,she said,”Narren..If you are in Mumbai can you please come either today or tomorrow to our Red Chilies office,once..”..
“Certainly Sushmaji..Am very much in Mumbai..Shall I come at 4 pm today”,I replied trying to hide,with a great difficulty,the excitement in my voice..
She said “fine” and disconnected the call..Later in the evening,myself and Mahesh straightaway landed on Sharukh’s office in Bandra,at exactly 4 pm,that day..
This was what Sushmaji told me..
“Narren..I have given the DVD of Chandramukhi,you have sent,to Sharukh and he tried to view it the same day at his residence..Due to children’s disturbance at home he could not view it properly,therefore he carried it along with him to New York..
He had seen it there and liked it too..Of course,he feels that a lot of changes need to be carried out in the script to please the sensibilities of Hindi audiences..He says there’s too much of unwanted comedy in the first half of the film although the second half is quite suspense filled with an intriguing climax..
He wanted me to convey the same to you..He had also told me that you said the same when you met him and told me that you too are planning to incorporate many changes to the Bollywood version to suit the Hindi audiences..
In that case,Narren,go ahead with your script work but you need to bear in mind that Sharukh Khan has a global image today and has millions of followers all over the world..It is important for him to please them all..I hope am clear..
I wanted to dance with joy all over Sharukh’s office and hug everyone there but didn’t do anything of that sort just because Sushmaji was looking at me,with all the seriousness in the world,in anticipation of my reply..
Observing that am elsewhere,she smiled and said,”Hello Narren..Kahan kho gaye ho yaar..Sapney dekh rahe ho kyaa..Dekho..Dekho..Koi problem nahin..Par badiya script bamake laana jaldee..Suna tumne..”..
With a jerk I became normal; laughed loudly and then told her,”Of course Sushmaji..Aise mauke baar baar nahin aathe zindagi mein..Bas aap dekhthe rahiye..Badiya script banaake hi leke aaoongaa..Usme tho main master hoon..Mera script sun ke Sharukh kya poora Bollywood hil jaayegaa..Please don’t think am arrogant,Sushmaji..I am saying so because I know what am capable of delivering..”
Later,we sat there for almost two hours,in Red Chilies office,discussing about a lot of things related to both Sharukh and his films.. Sushmaji told many unknown facts about Sharukh; his habits; his lifestyle; his nobility; and also about how he helps all his friends and staff when in need..
I have noticed that although elderly in age Sushamaji has great respect and admiration for Sharukh not because he’s a superstar but because he’s a great human being..PEACE
The same evening,myself,Hyder,Mahesh bhai and our PR man Sarmaji met in my hotel,over dinner,and reviewed the overall situation..We were all immensely happy that “things are moving exactly the way we always wanted them to move”..
But I was not aware that moment
That they were not the same in Chennai..I came to know about it only the next morning when K.S.Rama Rao called me at about 9.30 am and shocked me with an undesirable info..He said,
“Aditya..Last night I have received a call from my Chennai manager..He says Vasu,the director of Tamil Chandramukhi,was actually planning to remake it in Hindi and is now upset with me that I have taken the rights and not offered him the direction ..
It seems he had already met Amitabh Bachchan and narrated the story to him..I believe Amitabh too had already seen the film..I don’t know what problems will Vasu now create for me..
On the other side,the original writer of “Manichitrataazhu” is threatening Appachchan with legal action for not informing him before selling his story rights to me..Am really disturbed with these unforeseen developments,Aditya..Tell me what should we do now..”
“What is there for us to do now sir..It is their problem and not ours..Vasu may have directed the film in Tamil,however,that doesn’t mean he would become an automatic choice for the Hindi version as well.. You own the rights now and you can have any director of your choice..”..I tried to convince Rama Rao..
He said,”That is true but Vasu is my good friend for almost forty years now..We both together worked as assistants to famous Tamil director,Sridhar,during the 6o’s..Vasu is now feeling cheated that I have not even called him before purchasing the rights..”
Although am unable to understand what exactly Rama Rao was trying to convey me,but I still told him in clear terms just to convince him,
“Sir..I very much understand your predicament but this offer is something that you have not chosen on your own,but is something that came your way through Aditya..If you can tell Vasu the same and try to convince him,then I don’t see any reason why he should be upset with you..”
As though convinced with my line of argument,Rama Rao said,”fine” and quietly disconnected the call.. However,I wasn’t aware that moment that Rama Rao was preparing a ground and readying excuses for the great game of betrayal he would be playing with my life in the near future..
Unaware of all the conspiracy
That was being hatched around me in Mumbai and behind me in Chennai,I left for Hyderabad the same evening..After that,for about a week,there wasn’t much drama in my life except a few routine calls to Mumbai to know what was going on in the media..
Sarmaji would mail me almost everyday one or two clippings of the news columns,about Chandramukhi, published in different newspapers including in regional language papers..Otherwise there was calmness all around me,with only myself and Hyder discussing about the script for a couple of hours every evening over phone..
One day..At about 10.30 am..
I received a call on my mobile..That was from Sarmaji from Mumbai..He hurriedly told me,”In about five minutes from now one person by name Mr.Subhash.K.Jha will call you.. He’s Bollywood’s number one journalist..
In a way he’s called the king of Bollywood journalists too..He stays in Patna but controls Bollywood from there..Whom ever he calls,lifts the phone immediately..That is his power..He is also very close to Amitji.. Now,he wants to talk to you immediately..
Had it been some other journalist I would have said no but not to Subhashji..Still I said I will talk to you and get back to him..He will be waiting for my call..Please talk to him cautiously..He can make you or break you in Bollywood..”
I said okay and quickly rushed into my car,as I just got out of it that time,and started waiting for that all important call from the so called king of Bollywood journalists,Subhash.K.Jha..After about two or three minutes of my waiting,I received a call on my mobile from an unknown number..
I have immediately attended that call without knowing that,”this is the call that is going to cause the first major crack to my dream castle in Bollywood”..PERIOD
All I said after taking the call was just a simple”hello”,in response to which I heard a soft and gentle voice saying,”Hi Narren..Good morning..This is Subhash K Jha from Patna here”..
I smiled and said,”Hi Subhashji..Good morning..How are you..Nice talking to you..”..
He too smiled gently and said”Am fine Narren and same here..Nice talking to you..By the way,tell me a few things what this Chandramukhi is all about..There’s a lot of buzz going on all around Bollywood film industry about this film..Is it really real or just a hype created by both you and your Saramaji..”
I paused for a second and then said,”To be very honest with you Subhashji..Due to my inexperience in handling the media marketing,I haven’t even created the minimum buzz that is needed for a film of this magnitude and now you are saying we have created hype which is anything but true..
This film is a such a huge success all over South India that it actually deserves more talking than what it is currently enjoying in Bollywood..The film is expected to collect more than seventy five crores which no other South Indian film had so far collected..Am not saying this but the trade analysts of Chennai film industry are saying this..”
Interrupting me midway,Subhashji said,”Sorry to interrupt you Narren..From what you say,I believe,it’s a typical Tamil film more so a Rajanikanth masala film..Do you think it will suit the Hindi viewers sensibilities..??..”
Without searching for words this time,I quickly responded,saying,”Firstly Subhashji..I didn’t say it’s a typical Rajanikanth masala film..On the contrary,it’s a serious edge of the seat suspense thriller with an unimaginable climax which is why it is a hit in every South Indian language it has so far been made..
More importantly,it is slightly close to the film noir genre and appeals more to the Hindi audiences than to the South audiences..It is for this reason alone I have chosen this film as my launch pad to enter the Bollywood film industry..”
With a smile this time,Subhashji said,”Oh..Okay Narren..Am convinced with your answer..Now tell me..I believe you met Sharukh and gave a story narration..What is his response to your proposal and what is the current status..???..”
Since I was not prepared to receive a question about Sharukh I paused for a few seconds to think what to say..Observing my hesitation,Subhashji said,”No issues Narren..You do not owe me any explanation and just in case you don’t like to talk about Sharukh,that’s fine,I will not force you..”
Quickly correcting him,I said,”Nothing like that Subhashji..I gave Sharukh a detailed narration for about an hour and it appeared to me that he’s impressed with my proposal..Am waiting for his feedback..May be I will get it after he returns from New York”
I haven’t deliberately told Subhashji about the feedback Sushmaji gave me about a week prior to that..I don’t know what story he cooks up and writes in his columns and how would Sharukh react to that so I have decided then and there not to disclose Sharukh’s feedback to him..
To my surprise,he said,”Sharukh just returned from New York and I spoke to him in the morning today.. If you say yes I can call him immediately now and take his feedback on your proposal..We can then plan the future course of action..I will help you..What do you say..???..
I should have said “no” but still said “yes” and before I could even utter one more word he disconnected the call saying,”..I will talk to Sharukh about your proposal and get back to you in five minutes,Narren”..
My heart stopped for a moment..What will Sharukh now say..Will he say yes or no..???.. Does he like my proposal.. ???..And will he do the film..??..Goddddd..
Just to overcome my anxiety,I have spent almost a minute saving Subhashji’s number in my contact lists on my mobile; then took out the water bottle in the car and drank a little water; and then started waiting for Subhashji’s call with eagerness; with uncertainty; with fear; and with anxiety..
Although it is impossible now to describe those moments of waiting for Subhashji’s call that day,I can certainly say that my systolic blood pressure levels must have shot up to 9000 and diastolic to 7000 during those moments of my eager waiting..
After about a minute,I have noticed that am not breathing properly due to anxiety and was in fact going almost breathless with every passing moment..
And after exactly two minutes of terrible and torturous waiting,my mobile phone rang with the display screen showing “Subhash K Jha calling”…
Continued in “Why did Lord Venkateswara prevent me from directing that Sharukh Khan film-Part Six”
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