MUMBAI: From a game to a graphic book to a 12-city tour, Saif Ali Khan is using every possible marketing tool to promote his newest production "Agent Vinod". The actor-producer says marketing is expensive but vital to a film’s success. "We are marketing the film in various ways. It is expensive and a completely different area of production. It is something you have to take very seriously nowadays," Saif, who has been in the movie business for about two decades, told IANS in an interview here.
"If we look at the US, it’s amazing to see how they market their movies through merchandise and all kinds other of things. The Indian marketing business is growing tremendously with each film and the more you spend on marketing, more good it is. It has become a very important part of filmmaking," he added.
Saif is not only producing "Agent Vinod", but also playing a spy in the thriller directed by Sriram Raghavan. Releasing March 23, it will also feature Kareena Kapoor and yesteryear villain Prem Chopra in the cast.
In the last few years, the economics of filmmaking have undergone tremendous change. As a result, the box-office business has virtually become a matter of the first three days of collection.
"The numbers are so big and people are busy today. In those days there was not much for entertainment, apart from just watching films. You would see any film five to six times and learn all the dialogues and that was the only excitement. Today, there are so many other things to do, so it is a big thing that the first weekend goes houseful."
Summarising the current business strategy, the 41-year-old said: "On the first three days, a film takes an opening because of the hype around it, which is, ‘Does it give you a feeling to go and watch the film?’ Then Monday is the test day of a film to find out what kind of film it is – whether it will pull off? If the next weekend is also strong, then it’s a super hit. That’s the business."
Saif, however, is confident about his product’s long term run and said: "We are looking at two weeks already."
What about word of mouth?
"It is generally for small films that hope to grow over a period of time. Today we need multiple prints and instant impact of the release," he said.
Censor board has awarded U-A certificate to "Agent Vinod" and the actor is happy as he feels the it will help in getting more eyeballs.
The 41-year-old also feels "it is first film to have the potential of running into single screens as well as multiplexes."
The 1992 movie "Parampara" marked Saif’s entry into filmdom and he gave powerful performances in "Omkara", "Being Cyrus" and "Ek Hasina Thi". But the actor says his role in "Agent Vinod" has been most demanding so far.
"’Agent Vinod’ has been the most demanding role so far, but it was fun. I think if you want good result, you have to work hard. There has to be either physical bumps and bruises or mental bumps and bruises."
He doesn’t rule out the possibility of "Agent Vinod" franchise.
"Let us take one step at a time. If the audience likes the film, may be we could then think of making a sequel. I feel the film is perfect to be a franchise. If it works and it becomes a franchise, then it can be a dream come true," he said.
Asked to explain his strategy as an actor, he said: "The whole idea is to work with different and interesting people, to keep trying and improve the quality. I hope to make some very good films as a producer and do roles that not only surprise me but also challenge me, and take me out of the comfort zone."