A well-executed P.R. strategy can make a movie top the box-office charts. Bahubali: The Beginning is perfect example of one such wonders of P.R.
Bahubali:The Beginning is an Indian historical saga made with a budget of $39 million, the most expensive film produced in the Asian sub-continent to-date. The movie, released this past July, is directed by S.S Rajamouli, a successful and renowned director in the Indian film industry. The producers first made it in Telugu and Tamil and later dubbed into Hindi, Malayalam and French languages. Bahubali: The Beginning is compared to the likes of 300, Game of Thrones, and The Lord of the Rings in genre and visual effects.
The pre-release promotional activities created quite a buzz for the movie. Several behind-the-scenes videos were released during the two years of filming the movie. The marketing and P.R. teams released the lead actors’ costuming and look in the movie on their birthdays to please their fans. In addition, the director introduced each important character with a tagline describing the character through his official twitter account. The P.R. team created an exclusive Twitter account for the movie and posted updates related to it and conducted contests such as one entitled “Guess Rajamouli’s favorite dialogue and win free movie tickets.”
The soundtrack of the movie was launched in Tirupati, with a crowd of 25,000 people in attendance. A massive promotional poster of 51,000 square feet was created in the Kerala region and was soon entered the Guinness Book of World Records as “World’s Largest Poster.”
To promote the movie in Hindi, the production house teamed up with Karan Johar, a popular Hindi film producer whose movies appeal to a large section of this target audience. This partnership was beneficial as the movie received national recognition through numerous talk shows, interviews and public appearances organized by Mr. Johar.
The production value for Bahubali was rich. Over 600 VFX artists from 18 countries worked on the visual effects of the movie. Just to shoot one extensive war sequence, the stunt choreographer had to control 2,000 men and elephants at a time. Thousands of workers worked for 200 days to build a 20-acre kingdom for the film. Additionally, the writer, Madhan Karky, developed a new language called “Kilikili” with 750 words and 40 grammar rules for the movie similar to “Khal Drogo” of Game of Thrones.
The lead actor Prabhas dedicated three years of his life to working on this one film. Out of the three years, six months were dedicated for learning martial arts and building his body to resemble a warrior. As a result, BBC featured the movie in a documentary about 100 years of Indian cinema even before its release. All of these production efforts and the P.R. team’s effort to publicize them made Bahubali: The Beginning the most anticipated Indian movie of the decade.
The pre-release promotions proved successful, as the online ticket-booking site Bookmyshow.com crashed due to heavy traffic for pre-orders. At I-max Hyderabad, enthusiasts formed a 0.6-mile long line to buy the tickets. Tickets were even sold for $108 each in few areas. The movie created such excitement that the prime minister of India, Shri. Narendra Modi personally met the lead actor Prabhas. All the national news channels such as CNN IBN, NDTV and Times Now covered news stories about Bahubali: The Beginning and conducted interviews of the cast.
Bahubali: The Beginning had record-breaking openings in India and has earned nearly $91 million to date. The movie will debut next month in 5,000 screens across China and is gearing up for a release in Japan as well. Bahubali: The Beginning was so successful that a sequel has already been slated for release in 2016, Bahubali: The Conclusion. The success of this movie illustrates the impact of strategic marketing. The social media interactions, media outreach, and other promotional efforts helped build the excitement for an excellent movie that astounded fans all across India. The Baahubali series is a sensational genius of a well-planned P.R. effort.
Keerthana is a first-year public relations graduate student who loves watching and analyzing Indian movies.