Movies become new tools to promote countries
By Bahni Bandyopadhyay Countries and states have turned into brands joining the advertising bandwagon like any other consumer product as stars like Amitabh Bachchan and movies such as 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' become promotional tools.
Be it Indian states like Gujarat and West Bengal or foreign countries like Spain and Canada, each of these is a 'brand' now with ad campaigns and ambassadors promoting them.
While Bachchan is urging people to spend some days in Gujarat, Shah Rukh Khan will be luring industrialists to West Bengal. The superstar, who owns IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders, has been roped in as the brand ambassador of the state and will be fronting a number of ad campaigns to promote it.
Bachchan has just wrapped shooting the second series ofads to promote Gujarat Tourism, visiting every nook and corner of the state. He also voraciously blogged about the places he visited while filming the ads, some of which are on air already. The megastar was at the centre of a series of adslast year as well to promote tourism in the state.
Not any particular state, but Aamir Khan is promoting tourism all over India. He is seen reminding Indian citizens the values of 'Atithi Devo Bhava' as part of an Incredible India campaign, asking them to be more hospitable to foreign tourists. Aamir has recently been travelling all over the country, including Kerala and Jammu & Kashmir, to shoot for a new ad film.
Bollywood films have become great promotional tools for foreign countries as well who are opening their doors to producers hoping for a boost in tourist inflow. Earlier the shooting locales used to become popular after the film became a hit, but nowadays these countries tie up with films in the very beginning.
Latest example being 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' and 'Don 2' - while the former captured the beauty of Spain on film, the latter gave impetus to German Tourism.
'Don 2' was extensively shot in Berlin and a special tour 'On the Trail of Don 2' has been organised for tourists to relive the thrills of the film by retracing the trail left by Shah Rukh, who is very popular in the country.
Berlin is said to have become increasingly popular with Indian tourists after the superstar spent 50 days in the German capital to shoot for 'Don 2 - The King Is Back', which was partially funded by Germany. Shah Rukh even attended the premiere of the film in Berlinale despite being ill.
Similarly, Spain Tourism collaborated with 'Zindagi Na Milegi...' while it was being shot in the country. The film showed Abhay Deol, Hrithik Roshan and Farhan Akhtar taking off on a picturesque road journey through the cities of Costa Brava, Seville and Pamplona.
It also made Indian audiences familiar with sports like running with the bulls and festivals like Tomatina, while Spanish dance form flamenco was used in the hit song 'Senorita'. Besides narrating the story involving the lead stars, the film also said how lovely a trip to Spain could be. Akshay Kumar's first production venture 'Speedy Singhs', based on the Canadian sport ice-hockey, was made in collaboration with the country's government. The film was shot in Canada and the Bollywood actor, who has a huge fan following there, is now the brand ambassador for the country.
"Latest figures indicate that 140,000 Indians visited Canada in 2011, a healthy growth. Over the last three months of 2011, a staggering 25 per cent increase of travel has been recorded. Akshay's role as tourism ambassador has definitely been a great help in promoting Canada as the premier four season tourist destination," said Derek Galpin, MD Canadian Tourism Commission.
The trend is here to stay, as more films are being funded by foreign governments to promote tourism, prominent among them being Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's 'Bhaag Milkha Bhaag' starring Farhan Akhtar. The film is tying up with Australia as parts of it has been shot there. PTI