Couture goes haute in Bollywood’s Aisha

Couture goes haute in Bollywood’s Aisha

New Delhi: Christian Dior and Salvatore Ferragamo aren’t the kind of labels typically associated with Bollywood. But the couture is going unabashedly haute with Aisha, co-produced by Anil Kapoor Films Co. Pvt. Ltd and PVR Pictures.

The female lead Sonam Kapoor and the rest of the cast will be swathed in as many as 60 Dior dresses and accessories in the movie produced by sister Rhea and co-starring Abhay Deol, according to Kalyani Chawla, vice-president (marketing and communications) at Christian Dior Couture. The film releases on 6 August.

It’s the first time that brand integration has shifted from mass market products to high-end fashion brands. The Rs20 crore film also showcases L’Oreal Paris, Portico and posh shopping destination DLF Emporio.

According to producer Rhea Kapoor, the film was shot in 67 days, but the pre-production, including tie-ups with coveted brands, took nearly six months. “Our tie-ups with these brands happened before —or during—the scripting stage. The idea was to integrate them as organically as possible," explains Kapoor.

This is the first Bollywood film with which Dior is associated with to this degree.

Earlier, one-off fashion accessories may have been used, Chawla said.

Experts in the brand integration business say premium brands have been used in Bollywood films before. Tejaswini Aparanji, chief operating officer at P9, the film marketing company of Percept Ltd, says that brands such as TAG Heuer and Guess have found their way into Hindi films. So has Louis Vuitton, which was featured by producer Karan Johar in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna.

However, Komal Nahta, editor of Film Information, a film trade magazine, points out: “While there have been stray brand placements of this nature, it’s for the first time that a film has incorporated so many high-end products at one go."

The film’s heroine carries a Lady Dior purse throughout the movie, while the male lead gets to dress up in Dior suits.

“The protagonist Aisha moves in swish Delhi circles and is well turned-out. The theme centres around fashionable people," says Rhea Kapoor. It helps that Sonam Kapoor is a fashionista in real life and the brand ambassador for L’Oreal Paris since May 2009.

Little surprise then that an entire sequence has been shot in a salon where the protagonist and her friends use L’Oreal Paris products. Another character in the film dons an out-an-out Salvatore Ferragamo look while Sonam Kapoor’s bedroom in the film has been done up by premium home linen brand Portico.

Producer Rhea Kapoor declined to share details of the business from such brand associations.

However, experts say that brands could pay anywhere between Rs5 lakh and Rs1 crore for such product placements. “They are on a case to case basis. But they could either be cash deals or barters," says Shailendra Singh, joint managing director of advertising agency Percept. In a cash deal, brands pay up for their in-film placement, but in a barter they promote the film in their ads.

Pallavi Tibrewal, vice-president (marketing) of Portico, says that the company will launch 10-12 designs under the Portico Aisha collection closer to the film’s launch. Brands such as L’Oreal Paris and Portico are planning advertising and promotional spends of between Rs1 crore and Rs3 crore before the film’s release, with television commercials using imagery from the film.

Similarly, Delhi’s luxury mall DLF Emporio will devise events around the film. Sudeep Chhabra, head (marketing) of DLF Emporio, where parts of the film were shot, confirms: “Our positioning was perfect in terms of the content of the film."

P9’s Aparanji says that brand placement in films is a highly effective way to advertise, but is risky as well. “Increasingly, films are failing at the box office and brands find it a riskier option to use. The wise thing is to go for time-tested production houses and stars," she adds.

Meanwhile, Kamal Gianchandani, president of PVR Pictures, which has co-produced the film, is quick to add that Aisha is a fashionable film, but it’s not about high-fashion brands alone.