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NEW DELHI : New box office releases from southern India studios, which will be dubbed in multiple languages and released across the country, especially in the Hindi heartland, plan to increase their marketing budgets by up to 20-25 crore for each film to widen their audience appeal.

Titles such as RRR, KGF: Chapter 2, Adipurush, Radhe Shyam, and Prabhas’ untitled project with Deepika Padukone slated for launch in the coming months will explore print, digital and outdoor advertising, as well as events and media interactions across states in a shift in strategy for southern studios who have traditionally refrained from aggressive movie promotions.

“Southern studios are definitely looking at a completely different scale of marketing; going beyond tier-one and tier-two cities to grab eyeballs and manage engagement at an all-India level before the release of their films," said Shahir Muneer, founder and director at Divo, a Chennai-based music and media company working on marketing campaigns of several such projects.

For instance, the team of a film like KGF would track the response to the teaser and trailer state-wise and use the information to push the film in various north Indian markets, besides gauging what gaps need to be addressed, Muneer said.

Besides getting lead stars like Ram Charan and Jr. NTR, in the case of RRR, to travel to various cities, studios are investing in tying up with publicity agencies and making sure posters and song video clips are visible on social media. While digital will definitely be the biggest push; going forward, there is also a television, print and outdoor advertising plan for these films, Muneer said.

Currently, the entire ticket sales in tier-one cities happens online, with the figure at 60-70% in tier-two cities, Muneer said, adding that lot of the decision-making by potential viewers is thereby based on the trailer.

Southern filmmakers are looking at bigger marketing campaigns with their releases going pan-India and increased viewership in both north and west India, said Amol Roy, founder of digital marketing agency The Shutter Cast. He cited the example of Allu Arjun’s Pushpa- The Rise: Part One, whose songs and dialogues, though dubbed in Hindi, created buzz among northern viewers and even saw cricketers such as Suresh Raina and David Warne put out videos on Instagram. “They (filmmakers and studios) will be focusing and investing a lot on influencer marketing as well," Roy said.

Increasing marketing spends are commensurate with potential box office earnings that southern filmmakers have come to expect with market expansion and audience acceptance across India, said Vijay Subramaniam, group chief executive officer and co-founder of talent management agency Collective Artists Network, formerly known as KWAN.

The dubbed Hindi version of Pushpa fetched more than 107 crore at last count. “The south invasion is a lot like the inroads Hollywood and Marvel films made into India," Subramaniam said referring to localization efforts by American studios that led popular Indian stars dub for Hollywood films and brand collaborations over the past few years. SS Rajamouli’s RRR, for instance, had tied up with multiplex chain PVR Cinemas wherein the latter put out a video saying it will be referred to as PVRRR for the next few months in anticipation of the film’s release. “A great cultural exchange is happening with a lot of south-based actors, where they are seeing the Bollywood market increase...," Shrenik Gandhi, chief executive and co-founder of digital agency White Rivers Media said.

The south market works in a different way and the audience is used to a style where the actors will not promote themselves a lot. Also, south actors are seen as people's stars. However, when it comes to Bollywood movie promotions, the scale is different and they are learning tricks of the trade and adapting well to it, Gandhi added.

The battle will become stronger once southern films match Hindi film marketing budgets, but considering the revenue opportunities, it’s a no brainer, said Harikrishnan Pillai, CEO and co-founder, TheSmallBigIdea, a digital and social media marketing agency. “This also means that Hindi films will look at being pan-India films in the real sense. They have already begun dubbing in languages and in a few months, a Malayalam publication could be writing about competition coming in from dubbed Hindi films," Pillai said.

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