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Exclusive interview: Alia Bhatt, Siddharth Malhotra and Fawad Khan on pros and cons of film publicity campaigns

Alia Bhatt, Sidharth Malhotra and Fawad Khan candidly speak out against the monotony of movie promotions even as they are in the midst of the publicity campaign of their upcoming film

Promotion of Karan Johar's 'Kapoor & Sons' has entered its last leg and the young star cast — Alia Bhatt, Sidharth Malhotra and Fawad Khan — is hopping across town at a frenzied pace.

From left: Fawad Khan, Alia Bhatt and Sidharth Malhotra at the mid-day office. PIC/DATTA KUMBHAR
From left: Fawad Khan, Alia Bhatt and Sidharth Malhotra at the mid-day office. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

When they dropped by at the mid-day office, they couldn't help but discuss the pros and cons of film publicity campaigns that now seem as important as the film itself. Excerpts from the chat:

hitlist: Movie promotions seem to be a long, tedious process...
Fawad: We have been keeping busy with the same amount of activity for the last 15 to 20 days. We are doing a 12-hour shift everyday for the promotions.

hitlist: The promotional campaign for each film also tends to be monotonous, doesn't it?
Sidharth: The constant question we keep asking ourselves is how much will promotions give back (contribute to the film's collections).
Alia: Will it help the film or not? We have not figured that out.
Sidharth: In the recent past, so many films have been promoted extensively but still they didn't work even on the first day of release.

hitlist: Sometimes, does it also work against the film?
Alia: Possible.
Siddharth: True. It's the trailer that does the job.
Alia: Somebody needs to stop it.

hitlist: Actors suggest ideas to the film's marketing team. So, why don't you ask them to not initiate such hectic promotional campaigns?
Alia: It's not about hectic. We are not questioning how hectic it is.
Sidharth: We are questioning if it helps or not.

hitlist: Plus, what happens if there is no theme to a promotional campaign? It's the same process of going to malls, colleges, doing media interviews and so on.
Alia: I agree. But there is also a limitation. We also say that we won't do this or that, but eventually we do everything.
Sidharth: I think senior actors should take a stand. If they do, we will follow them gladly.
Alia: I have never spoken about how promotions are not energetic. This is the first time have I said that.

hitlist: For your first film, 'Student of the Year' (2012), a lot was pumped into the marketing campaign. Since then, what changes have you seen as far as promotional activities are concerned?
Sidharth: It was very movie specific. We were not known faces, so we were not required to be seen for a longer period of time. We had no star to play with, barring Karan Johar (who directed that film). Now that we have done a number of films, we realise that there is no mathematics to showing your faces and getting your film's tickets sold. I am just questioning that.
Alia: More than anything, we like talking to people. But what I feel is now the films that are good are working and which are not, are not working, despite the promotions. So, the question is: are we insecure?

hitlist: Or, the question is if you are doing it intelligently?
Fawad: I think it is all done to generate curiosity. You know, the marketing team of 'Blair Witch Project' (1999) had put up posters in the US to generate curiosity, and it was a huge success.

hitlist: A similar campaign was designed for 'Kahaani'. Missing posters were put up at railway stations…
Fawad: Oh, is it?
Alia: But, the question is will the film be successful even without all that?

hitlist: It worked because the campaign was at least relevant to the film.
Alia: Our motive right now is to make them aware of the release date of the film.

hitlist: Is your promotional campaign relevant to the film?
Fawad: I had an idea of going out and engage in adventure sports because the film is all about fun and adventure.
Alia: I had given Karan an idea about having an event called Media & Sons. He said we should not overdo things. Now, trying too hard is also a problem. So, we are playing it safe.
Sidharth: Also, it is difficult to summarise the film in one line.
Alia: Social media is killing everything. It is killing the curiosity factor. We were doing two minute videos and Rishi (Kapoor) sir was like, "Will people see this?"

hitlist: But, if you utilise the medium well, it can be useful...
Fawad: The problem is there is always a pro and con to everything. If you have an opinion, then also you can't share it.

hitlist: It must be more difficult for you since you are from Pakistan and you will have to think what people there are thinking about your statements and how Indians will react to them...
Fawad: Therefore, I don't have Twitter or Instagram on my phone. I am very happy without them. But the truth is one should have an opinion on things about which you have complete knowledge. Today, social media is becoming a tool for table conversation and you can become a scholar in two minutes. One just reads Wikepedia and writes stuff. Earlier, people used to travel and gain exposure. Now, most social media users do not have knowledge but have plenty of comments. Besides, anonymity has become a weapon. There are so many imposters on the internet.
Alia: I was following an Instagram account which was not even yours (laughs).

hitlist: Do you guys intuitively sign films?
Alia: You always hope that the film will do well. But it is only after that they realise these were the factors which helped the film to work and which didn't.
Sidharth: In this film, the investment is not very high. So, we are pretty confident. Even if people watch the film after five years, they should enjoy it.
Fawad: What I enjoy the most is the process of making a film from start to end. After that, the film's fate is not important.

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