MNIK – Reading between the controversial lines.

Noticed a certain lull in the air of late? Especially after the national mayhem the SRK-Shiv Sena stand-off had created? Now, excuse the cynic within me, but could it have been the biggest marketing ploy to promote a movie?

By now it is established that MNIK opened to full houses across the country. Only a few movies have managed to rival such an opening in recent years. Keeping aside the discussions on how good the movie actually is, one has to admit the role played by the controversy in making the movie a success. The timing was so perfect, wasn’t it? The constant war of words between SRK supporters and Shiv Sena followers provided enough fodder for the media to mark their entire fortnight’s prime time slots. The gullible public was fed 24/7 on sentiments of patriotism and nationalism. It all resulted in the movie becoming a super-hit in only the first few days of its release.

From a marketing standpoint, it seemed like a brilliant strategy. Intentional or otherwise. Without indulging in mainstream advertising, the movie generated massive buzz to drive footfalls to the theatres. From coffee tables to locker rooms to client meetings, the controversy became a part of many a conversations. But what I doff my hat to was the kind of controversy it was. It made the otherwise docile public take a stand. It drove them to the theatres with a carrot of patriotism. I actually overheard a guy saying, “I am not a movie buff and don’t like watching movies. But I am going to the theatre only to defy the Sena diktat.” This is the power of evoked emotions. It all worked well for the movie makers, who rolled their way to the bank.

But what do we see suddenly? Peaceful screenings. Zero protests. Neither has SRK apologized nor has the Sena changed its stance. So, why have the voices (SRK, Shiv Sena, Media, etc.) gone silent all of a sudden? Is it because the controversy has played its part? SRK has gotten a much needed hit and Shiv Sena, the much needed spotlight!

Whatever the case is, the product i.e. MNIK, has sold like hot cakes and is a success. And, it has got nothing much to do with ‘product features’ or, in other words, the content of the movie. Earlier we saw another movie, 3 Idiots, embroiled in the ‘author vs, the producers and directors’ controversy. Miniscule, compared to the MNIK buzz. But it worked. Both the movies are massive hits. Now it only remains to be seen whether it is going to start a trend.

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