BOLLYWOOD’S NEW NAME GAME
Changing the title of a film just before its release seems to be the latest strategy to create hype. Insiders decode the trend
Bollywood filmmakers opt for all possible strategies to create hype around their films, ahead of the release. While some go for over-thetop promotions, others create buzz with the teaser, or the poster of the film. However, recent instances point towards a new trend to get the audience talking about a film—changing the title of the film. For instance, the Shraddha Kapoor-starrer biopic on Dawood Ibrahim’s sister was initially called Haseena: The Queen of Mumbai, and the poster created a lot of noise. Later, the makers announced a fresh release date for the film and a new title — Haseena Parkar.
“The reason we changed the title of the film was because ours is a biography, and we felt that it would be better for people outside Mumbai to get familiar with Haseena Parkar, as she was very well known in this city [Mumbai] but not outside of it,” says the film’s director Apoorva Lakhia.
More recently, Huma Qureshi’s international debut, Viceroy’s House, which released in the UK in March this year, changed its title to Partition 1947 ahead of its India release in August 2017. British filmmaker Gurinder Chadha, director of the film, explains, “There are certain things that appeal to an Indian audience. So Partition 1947 is a great title and in fact, that was the working title of the film for many years. In England, they chose Viceroy’s House. But for India, this new title has a better connect.”
Also, filmmaker Imtiaz Ali’s much-touted project Jab Harry Met Sejal, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma was originally titled, The Ring. Filmmaker Homi Adajania, shares how his first film was Being Cyrus was earlier called Akoori (parsi scrambled eggs). “Sometimes a project starts with a nontitle like, say Production no. 9 or some such, later it gets a working title and the film starts getting identified with this. Once the film is ready, from a marketing perspective the final title is chosen,” says Adajania.
Does the change in name effect the popularity of a film in any way? Film critic Omar Qureshi opines, “A lot of makers are superstitious about giving out their titles. Also, title selection has become a marketing gimmick with other stars pitching in to suggest titles on social media, which creates a buzz. But at the end the product is the same and the content matters above any title.”
In England, they chose Viceroy’s House. But for India, this new title has a better connect GURINDER CHADHA, FILMMAKER