How Anant Velankar spread the word for Dombivli Return

By Satrajit Sen , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital
Last updated : July 23, 2014
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The team chose a distinctive route around storytelling to promote the film and create a buzz about the characters in it.

Anant Velankar

A still from the movie

Movie marketing has gained tremendous momentum these days. Producers today are using everything from gaming apps to TV promos to makes sure that their films get noticed. However, isn't that true only for the big budget production houses? Can a small budget movie hope to gain traction without deep pockets? If you ask the team of Dombivli Return, the answer is a resounding Yes.

Dombivli Return is a movie about the common man today and is a socio psychological thriller. The movie stars award-winning actor Sandeep Kulkarni (who is also the co-producer) and Rajeshwari Sachdev in unglamorous roles playing a regular middle-class couple. The movie is to be released in August 2014.

Citizen Velankar

To create a buzz around the characters, digital agency Heads or Tails adopted a pure content strategy to engage the audience through real life stories, for the movie. Anant Velankar, the protagonist in Dombivli Return is first introduced as a regular common man on social media. He posted and tweeted the daily ordeals faced by commoners. Coming across as a helpless common man frustrated by the circumstances around him, Velankar connected with folks on social media by sharing his thoughts on various social issues doing the rounds on media.

Velankar's Facebook page started with a series of corruption scandals being highlighted on his timeline. Major scandals right from the day of independence were highlighted. The page went on to showcase how things in India have worsened over the years. It also featured posts on news articles that highlighted the plight of the common man. While the Dombivli Return page has over 4,000 fans, Velankar has more than 3,000 followers on his page.

A set of three short videos were launched on the page where the character engaged fans with thought-provoking situations where a common man's good deeds are met with fierce opposition from various elements in the society.

The first video is about a eunuch who saves a girl from being gang-raped and gets beaten up in the process. In the second video, which got more than 11,000 views on YouTube, a few college students try to educate children of prostitutes but a cop beats them up stating that it's illegal. The third video shows how a young chap helps a blind man reach his destination, and how he is booked by the Railway police for travelling without a ticket. The first and third videos, though, haven't garnered too many views.

Character building

In an attempt to popularise the character further, a tie up with @WeAreMumbai - a Twitter account curated in rotation by Mumbaikars for Mumbaikars - took place where Velankar was made the curator. More than 27,000 followers of @WeAreMumbai connected with Velankar. His Twitter page also engaged people in the same manner with content focused on the major headlines highlighting the state of the country.

The primary objective was to create buzz without any references to the movie. It was also to differentiate the movie from the award-winning 2005 Marathi movie 'Dombivli Fast' starring Kulkarni himself in the main lead. Kulkarni, the founder of Kathakaar Entertainment, says, "Dombivli Return strongly revolves around the protagonist Anant Velankar, a common man. The brief to the agency was to create a bigger identification for the character."

The challenges included low budgets and no movie assets available since it was still incomplete. Jeetendra Lalwani, founder, Heads or Tails, says, "Social media is a storytelling platform and hence our strategy was to create original meaningful content and drive conversations around them." It was enough to build curiosity.

Velankar's identity was revealed only after his character was firmly established on social media and once it had built a relationship with fans. The transition process had to be thought out carefully and needed to look natural to the audience. Movie bytes followed later with a teaser video making its first appearance on social media.

First Published : July 23, 2014
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