Audience choice

Nov 21, 2011, 07:24 IST | Hiren Kotwani

Genelia D'souza bagged an upcoming flick after topping an opinion poll for the lead role. Apart from title suggestions, filmmakers are now increasingly taking public opinion in a movie's casting and scripting as well

Film production houses are increasingly putting the consumer is the king theory into practice for their projects.

Ever since public opinion was sought to decide the title of Vishal Bhardwaj's screen adaptation of Othello (from options like Omkara, O Saathi Re and Issaq), even lead actors are signed on after taking people's opinion.

Across cities
Genelia D'Souza was cast opposite Abhay Deol in Ekta Kapoor's Rock The Shaadi after most of the respondents voted for her.

It is learnt that a team from Ekta's production house conducted a survey in eight Indian cities to figure out which girl would the audience prefer to see with Abhay in the zombie comedy.
"Considering Abhay's popularity with the youth and the kind of film Rock The Shaadi is, we opted to speak to about 1,000 moviegoers in the 15-25 age group," elaborated an insider.

On her part, Ekta concedes that the idea came up while brainstorming with her team. "We often use research during the pre-release marketing. So why not extend it to casting as well," she says.

"It merely enables you to make a more informed judgment and decision. The call is not based entirely on gut. You're engaging your end-consumer in deciding, what they are eventually paying for."

Since Genelia was one of their choices for the role, Ekta is all the more glad that the people also voted for her.

Another instance

Incidentally, this is the second time an actor has been finalised in such a manner. Before signing Sharman Joshi as the lead of Ferrari Ki Sawaari, a team at producer Vinod Chopra's company did a survey on who would suit the role of the father of the nine-year boy.

Director Rajesh Mapuskar says, "Just before we started the film, we did a small dipstick in coffee shops from Bandra to Andheri, to check the excitement of the audience. And Sharman topped the poll."

Interestingly, surveys in Bollywood started with producers showing their films to small focus groups to gauge the audience response.

Siddharth Roy Kapoor, CEO of a film production house, says that if a considerable number of people from different groups give similar reaction, then it makes sense to take note of it.

"We're involved in the film as producers. We might overlook something that an audience can point out," he says. "We're making the movie for the audience. So it's important to know what consumers think of the product," he adds.

Shika Kapoor, marketing director of a film production states that research is not just for consumer feedback, but also to improve the product. "It is used to figure out how the audience is comprehending the film and their acceptance levels. If the film is huge, then knowing audience opinion comes in handy," she says.

Reverse casting
Sometimes, reverse casting makes more sense, feels Siddharth Roy Kapoor. He elaborates, "There are times when you could get a clich �d response from the people about who they want to see in a film.
That's when casting against the type helps better. The person you least expect to be in a particular character, might just surprise you more than the person you expect to fit that part."

Ekta adds, "There's no such thumb rule. Films that are designed for a specific kind of audience or in situations where one is not entirely sure whether A works better or B. Research comes in handy."

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