What is movie merchandise and why is Bollywood so fascinated by it? Though the Indian film industry has only recently adopted this profit-making venture, it has taken to it with gusto.
Film stars doings and their wardrobes have always held the Indian film fan’s imagination. A minor flurry of sorts was caused in the 1970s by Dimple Kapadia’s jewelry in Bobby. But that generation had to settle for Superman and Disney merchandise.
Hollywood has generated humongous revenues from its merchandising. Some movies have doubled their final box-office take with merchandising. Disney, for instance, still sells stuff from decades-old movies. Surprisingly, Bollywood woke up very late to this phenomenon – surprising because the returns were obvious, and Indian film-makers never lacked for international exposure.
It is not as though film merchandise did not exist in India: millions of ‘designer’ saris, jewelry and other stuff worn by stars have always been sold on streets and boutiques. The revenues, as in much else of Indian enterprise went to the unorganized sector.
The first copyrighted merchandise was probably after the release of ‘Na Tum Jaano Na Hum’ in the shape of the ‘Tutu’ doll, which on balance, did better than the film. Ram Gopal Verma’s ‘Bhoot’ merchandised the eponymous dolls through the retail chain Westside and formally introduced Bollywood to movie merchandising.
Bollywood’s merchandise is now ubiquitous – visit any Pantaloon showroom and chances are you’ll pick up something that looked great on Hrithik Roshan in ‘Krrish’. If ‘Fanaa’ is your fancy, get yourself some reflective cups and saucers, or Aamir Khan’s chili pendant. Yashraj Films’ now has a subsidiary (YRF Merchandise) to market merchandise from their movies.
Another Hollywood hand-me down that has hit Hindi movies is product positioning. Film makers get paid to have their characters endorsing products on screen. Shah Rukh Khan did that with Stroh’s Beer and netted a few dollars more for the film, ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Ley Jayenge’.
Many feel that unless such merchandising can stretch out to the smaller towns, profits will be limited. What do you think? Is this a boom industry or a passing fad?