Partinomics: The economics of Bollywood parties

Partinomics: The economics of Bollywood parties

Girish Wankhede13 Oct 2011

We are dazzled by Bollywood party pics and dream of the good life, celebs lead, which seems to revolve around moving from one party to another and, life is like a never-ending party. But, what about the many others, who attend these parties? While delving deep into the economics and preparation that goes behind organizing these Bollywood parties and events, Girish gives you a tip or two to get yourself in.

We are often dazzled by Bollywood party pics and dream of the good life, celebs lead, which seems to revolve around moving from one party to another and, life is like a never-ending party. But, what about the many others, who attend these filmi parties? While delving deep into the economics and preparation that goes behind organizing these Bollywood parties and events, Girish gives you a tip or two to get yourself in.

The entrance carries a huge cardboard gate with flowers covering some important logos. A table-chair set up with folders and a round-glass container is placed at the entrance while two young girls with adequate make-up sit chatting and simultaneously working on laptops. The ambience of Hall is bright and a GRAND stage-set is done with a GRANDER backdrop. While the center backdrop carries FILM-CREATIVE, the side wing embodies several logos of Sponsors. A small bar set-up is erected at one corner and chairs are placed surrounding round tables. The background music plays some unheard songs. You check the SMS again and put your visiting card in glass container while the girl hands you a folder (Promotional kit). You ask sheepishly if you are too early and the girl responds, “We will start in five minutes”. They have their own definition of five minutes. You learn it later (after much more than five minutes).You recheck the invitation-time and enter the Hall (Venue). Nobody described in SMS are seen, except some loud-dressed mortals loitering near the bar. You take a sigh and try to see what the kit carries. It has a mug (read merchandise), a two page glossy folder (read booklet) and a cheap notepad with Film's logo in bold. You are happy that you received something at the entry. You thank your friend (PRO/Photographer/Event Manager/ Sponsor) who has forwarded the SMS and said, “ Jaa yar, koi kuch nahi poonchhta”. You feel “blessed”. You are “in”. You are among some two hundred “special guests” privileged to be the part of “FIRST-LOOK LAUNCH” of this upcoming Bollywood flick. You are the part of Party (pun intended) and so…of history, too.

The Industry needs a chance; an opportunity to throw a party. The other-world (read non-filmy) call them party-animals. They are known to throw parties at the drop of the hat. They acknowledge being “filmy” and love parties. They have several reasons to do so and all seem logical and extremely valid. You read about Parties in Newspapers and magazines and are enthralled. You see it on TV and are mesmerized. You wonder how the Celebs look in real, how they carry their drink and how they behave. Your struggler friends in Mumbai tell you all stories. You believe some and you refute some... but you want to be there. By all persuasions and dedicated efforts (how I wish you had put these efforts in your studies) you get a hold of that Miracle-man. He could be anyone; an actor, a singer, a Producer (read all strugglers) who can educate you in bar and reveal his connections after third peg. You are ecstatic. Your PASS is made. You don the best outfit (the loud one, naturally) and are ready for THE BIG PARTY.

The Producers announce the film at some five-star hotel (you are right, the same one) and call for a Bollywood launch party. They presume to know the most Powerful People in and out of our Film Industry. The newly appointed PRO tells them about the virtues of launch-parties and insists on inviting all those who think, that they are doing “something” in the Industry. Invitations are SMS-ed and forwarded to the cast and crew. The SMS-es are exchanged and proudly forwarded to acquiantances. As a result, the regular parties comprises of 40% unknown junta. This unknown junta is the byproduct of forwarded SMS-es. You have spent considerable time in bars with these forwarding agents (pun intended) and thus qualify for this prized SMS. You are there directly where the ACTION is. You see the whole Launch Party stalled for want of that “ONE” Celeb. He/ She arrives and the jitterbugs get busy. You jump above the crowd to get a glimpse of that Celeb. He may be Politician or a star past his /her prime, but you are there and lovin' it! (McDonalds, anyone?). Interestingly, the morning after, the party news breaks in some obscure websites and main dailies royally ignore it. You go through all news channels and print pages just in case you are flashed among crowd (You know exactly where you were standing) and recheck if any medium carries this news. You wonder how come so many friendly-journos from Prominent dailies had stayed up till shutting down of the bar and didn't carry any piece of news.

The PRO pacifies the Producer by telling, that their launch clashed with Amitabh Bachchan's Siddhivinayak visit or Shah Rukh Khan's son's birthday Party. The Producer, naturally hapless, looks forward to the future and starts shooting. During Shooting days, he often throws parties on location to earn good will (read — “naya Producer hai yaar”). The last day of shoot is again a party. Again, the cast and crew drink and vow not to work with certain A/B listers who had given them a hard time. After Post-production, when they are all geared for the RELEASE meeting with Distributors and Exhibitors, the Well-wishers (read PRO/ Executive Producer/ Close starlets) suddenly come up with idea of “FILM COMPLETION PARTY”. Again the Hotel (same) is booked and the Producer drinks quietly listening to the “creativity” and “vision” he is born with. You are there again. This time a distant cousin, who writes lyrics and stays here in a room sharing with four friends, has forwarded the message. He exudes connectivity and today's party is its living proof. You know by now how to hold your glass and start conversation with wannabees. As the release date is decided, the Producer comes across a full-fledged plan of PARTIES. They start with First-look launch at a Multiplex (the other same one) and showcase the trailer. The film-colleagues rave about their “different-look” (read hat ke) and assert it to be the next Big-thing. You are there witnessing the look before junta does and try to get familiar with Multiplex PRO and film crew. Your agility and acumen pays. You are graduating now. The MUSIC RELEASE PARTY follows along with Singers/Musicians performing and everyone posing with Music CDs in hand on stage. It's a typical get to gather where everyone raves about Music knowing well that no market is left for any revenue on Music except ringtones, which depends solely on success of the film. If the Music seems good (more spots on TV) and is played on ramp and Reality shows, then they celebrate the MUSIC SUCCESS PARTY' It's the latest trend now. The Music is launched and as they see (read feel) that it's well received (somebody sings on Reality show), they celebrate with another party before the release.

Now that the Music Success Party is celebrated, the Producer gears up for Celebrity Screenings. Preview theatres in Bandra and Andheri are booked and Special Guests like Salman Khan and family, Amitabh Bachchan and his community, Aamir Khan and his team, Raj Thackeray and his Party-workers, etc are invited. You try your best, but end up at the gate of Preview theatre knowing that the seats are too limited. You console yourself that at least, you are at the Preview theatre where Celebs are watching it. Now the next focus is on Premiere Party. The best Multiplex (yes you are right...the same one) is booked for the night prior to release and the entre Industry is invited. Your past-deeds (good of course) pay dividends and the Multiplex-PRO takes you “in” on the Red Carpet. Your day is made. It's the real Show-Off time. The Star cast and crew tells Media how hard it was to work on that Project, etc. The typical Page 3 crowd comes and screams at every sight “Ohh my God, where were you” and then asks the sidekick “who was he?” It's a big jamboree at Premieres. You observe a big clan of wannabees (including yourself now) who do attend Premieres, come what may. May be, it is a Hollywood /Bollywood flick or a regional film, they are found there greeting the guests and posing for photographers. After the Premiere Party is done, when half the crowd disappears in interval, the Producer looks jittery. The only job left for him is to wait for morning and get the Opening figures.

The Opening figures depend on the people the Producer is calling. If he calls the PRO, the figures are good, if he calls Reviewers, they see some hope. The Multiplex Managers show great Optimism while News Channels show mixed-response of audience. While the Producer is clueless in the midst of this ambiguity, a cast member calls him to say that one journo has informed that the Opening is BIG in remote Odisha or remote Gujarat. Suddenly his face glows and then another call comes saying it's good in Raipur/Indore compared to the other flick which even could not get shows. A comparison is hastily made with unreleased one and the good-word spreads. By the time the Producer wants to get hold on figures, the Production Manager and the main leads decide that they will have the Success Party. The Success Party is planned immediately on the third day (Mondays, usually the collection drops) and by this time, You are on the invitation list. You receive SMS and you raise a toast to yourself (Thank God, Thanks Daddy, Thanks Mummy, etc).

The Industry has a penchant for Parties. The Music Success Party of Mausam was celebrated much before the release of film. The success Parties of Tom Dick Harry, RGV's Phoonk and Vinay Pathak - Lara Dutta starrer Chalo Dilli were celebrated on third/fourth day of release before getting hold of nationwide actual revenue figures. Several First-look launches didn't get distributors to release the films. Some of the Music Release Parties don't find the CDs (material) delivered and the Guests stand with CD-Covers for Media. They pose for picture and assure that the CDs would be delivered at journos' Offices. Nobody follows it as the Music Release picture is done. The Premieres are Obligations for certain Producers. They push Premieres to develop a rapport and ensure better show timings (if any) with Multiplexes and partly succeed in that. The Premieres of Aloo Chaat, Buddha Mar Gaya, Bubble Gum and Bhavnao Ko Samjho were hosted primarily to accommodate Shows and they managed to get it.

Hot Bollywood parties are more than just hot babes

The Bollywood Page 3 Parties have certain economics. I call it Partinomics (there is a reason behind it)! With an innermost urge to be “famous” (read Popular) and generate mileage, the Parties are conceived. It's the back-end of all PROs. The Parties are the platforms to communicate and create a space. With every Party riding on a film, the Sponsor is roped in, who can sponsor the Event/Party. The Sponsor comes on board as he will never get this much star-strength minus film in that amount. Once the title Sponsor is done, the other vehicles like Outdoor, Print, Radio, Liquor and Venue are fetched. They are called Media Alliances. They push the Event/ Party with their own expertise. Hoardings speak about it, Print Ads and Advertorials support it and Radio/Venue Partners create some contest which engages the patron. It's a proper engagement game. While all the Partners and Alliances come together to create a Party, the coverage is generated through all Media. Everybody gets a place in sunshine and the purpose is solved, the buzz is created and the party is also a “hit”.

The Music Release of RA.One at Film City is a case-study. An elaborate two-hour Program was conceived for STAR. The Serial-Bahus were briefed and the Channel became the exclusive Media Partner. The whole event which includes set-up and accommodation of Media flying across the country was all sponsored by title Sponsor “GEETANJALI”. The two other major verticals of Outdoor and Online was managed by BRIGHT OUTDOORS and MAUJ. So an entertaining program unveiling the Music along with SRK dancing with Serial Bahus kept the TRPs roaring, the entire event had GEETANJALI-presence in all backdrops and anchors calling them again and again. Even the Bahus were felicitated by Special RA.One jewellery handed over by Head of Geetanjali on Stage. All the Partners were invited personally by SRK on stage and were greeted. In totality, the program was sold to STAR; executed by GEETANJALI, promoted by BRIGHT, MAUJ and CINEMAX; and attended by nationwide Media. Eventually, everybody got their share of limelight and the necessary buzz was created.

The Partinomics has an edge. It creates an activity out of an air. The experts meet and Parties are planned. Besides PR Mileage, it provides a platform for networking. It is a big hangout for Wannabees. Many now called Stars were spotted in such Parties. You come across almost two or three parties a day in Bollywood. With your focused endevour, you are on the list of all PROs and Event Managers.With every Invitation, You get excited. You know by now that you will meet the same set of people, the same jurnos and the same Page 3 types. YouI know who will last at the Bar-Corner and who will come in designer outfit. Everything is same,except the Partinomics. Every Party has a certain story and certain Economics. While one Party can elevate Ra.One, another party can spot talents like Vishal Bharadwaj and Zeenat Aman (yes, both were spotted in Parties). It's a never ending Process and certainly, You are in awe of it. You know the crux now. You have elevated yourself to a level where you can rub shoulders with Celebs. You have started making a folder with your pics with Celebs. You believe, You may be the next one (a surprise discovery).  It keeps you going. Never know, what an upcoming Party holds for You, but the process excites you. It's rare that you love journey rather than destination. The phone beeps and you know it's an invitation. While you read the SMS and smile, you know you have come a long way. You forward it to a newbie in town, Cheers!

About Girish Wankhede

Girish WankhedeGirish Wankhede is Head of Marketing at Cinemax, a leading multiplex chain in India. He also looks after Film Promotions and Brand Alliances at Cinemax. Girish has been closely associated with the film industry for 15 years, including a stint in production and has unparalleled access to the people who create magic on screen, every Friday. A passionate movie lover and ardent music aficionado, Girish is someone who literally lives movies 24x7. He has pionered film special screenings in India and has been instrumental in hosting several film festivals of national and international repute, including MAMI during his tenure.

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