I am sure you are here because the title doesn’t make sense. Well, however, I have stuck to Basics of Writing 101 like a leech and the title of my blog actually is about everything that I will write about in this article: Some marketing strategies, some politics, some economics and a bit, ok, a huge bit on the Bajirao- Mastani controversy.
First things first. I saw the movie. This is largely thanks to Nephew, who came visiting us yesterday. Nephew is personally responsible for the success of the Make CDs in India campaign and the Immediately CD Banaao Yojana. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Confederation of Indian CD Industries award him for having contributed in sound amounts to their Awaas Yojana as well as to the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan of their ickle ones.
Dig into his sack, and you are likely to find the latest movies, all available in fairly good prints. Rumor has it that Nephew was given a sneak peek into the Force even before it had awakened.
Nephew’s Arrival is normally accompanied by yelps of delight by Lil One, whose eyes light up in anticipation of the treat. Hubby too keeps a supply of ready-to-eat popcorn to coincide with the Departure, so that we can then have the entire movie experience, popcorn included.
This time Nephew had brought two movies, Dilwale and Bajirao Mastani. There was a split vote, with Hubby wanting to watch the controversial historical film and Lil One hankering after the SRK-Varun Dhawan combo. I cast the deciding vote.
I voted for Bajirao-Mastani, partly because I didn’t want to watch it. I had obviously seen the Pinga trailers before and had not been amused. To have Kashi bai, the Peshwa queen, drape the navvari sari in that unbecoming, revealing fashion, was an error of the worst degree, and coming from an experienced filmmaker like Bhansali, was unforgivable to my simple way of looking at things. I am no historian, but you don’t need to be one to know that there was no way that Kashi bai would ever dance a pinga with Mastani. We are talking about an extremely conservative, traditional, Brahmin Peshwa family in Pune. Again, add to it the confronting yet condoning look that Kashi bai gives Mastani during the dance and the weird lyrics and you are left feeling distinctly annoyed.
So I watched the movie, waiting for the scenes where I would object, dislike it some more, criticize it some more and then tell others not to watch it.
It didn’t happen. For most part, the movie is compelling and the viewer is pulled into the storyline. The Bhansali grandeur and his treatment of the emotional quotient is engaging. At no point is it crass or vulgar. However, Pinga was still unacceptable. I did not like it earlier, as a dance by itself, and I did not like it in the movie, as a part of the larger story. It does not fit. By the time you move to the rather tragic end, however, you do forget the irritation that the song created in your mind.
After watching the movie, the scenes that I remember are not the ones from the dance. Pinga is not really Bajirao-Mastani.
And this is the fatal error involved in the movie. The product is not bad, the packaging is. Had the dance not been released earlier, the entire controversy would have reduced considerably. You cannot release the song which is the most removed from the movie as a first look. No matter what your fetish with the two lead heroines dancing together. This cannot be the first look because it is not the final impression. Bhansali erred as a film maker in creating the song, but I think he erred more fatally in the marketing of his magnum opus. It is not enough that you create well, it is equally, sometime even more important that you project well.
This is a costly mistake by Bhansali, and one with a powerful parallel from the world of Econ Mom. But again, I am not only going to talk about economics. As the blog title promises, I will want to talk about politics as well.
NDA Government, 1999. Came to power promising reforms. And delivered significantly huge outlays on, hold your breath, social sector reforms.
They started the Food for work program (which later got hyped as the MNREGA during the UPA regime in 2005), created huge spending on Sarva Shiksha Abhyaan, looked into targeting the PDS etc.
However, whenever asked what they did for the country, they projected growth, not distribution as their core areas. The talk always centred on the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), the telecom policy, the Look East policy. They created their movie (and a good one at that) carefully looking at distributional aspects, but the first look and the lasting look they gave it is one of growth.
Contrast this to the UPA Bhansali saga. UPA came to power with a coalition. While most people do snigger sarcastically when they think about the UPA achievements, the fact is that UPA carried out a lot of economic reforms to keep the pace going. It was they who rationalized tax structures, got the SEZ Act passed, got RTI into place, got the Land Acquisition Bill changed and proposed the GST structure.
However, whilst talking about their achievements, well, ummmm, they firstly didn’t speak much at all. And when they did, they chose to speak about the Common Minimum Program, which incidentally, true to its name, seems to have delivered commonly, the minimum of output. UPA always projected wiping tears off everyone’s face (are you trying to make me laugh?) as a national priority. What was projected was their achievement in rural employment through MNREGA and food security and education. Rahul Gandhi did nothing to change that impression through that ummmm, fateful interview on women empowerment.
If economic reform is the product, political talk is the marketing ploy. That the product has to be robust goes without saying. But if parties are not wily enough to play their political cards correctly, you land up in a fatal error despite creating good economic momentum. A fatal pinga error.