A pitch to build a brand around iconic filmmaker Satyajit Ray.
In spite of being a global icon, Satyajit Ray still remains a 'Bengali' brand in India, with limited influence on national pop culture. This needs to be corrected urgently, else a wondrous legacy will never get its rightful due.
Quite worryingly, even in his home state, Ray has diminishing circulation amongst the current generation, which is sadly a function of improper application. The legacy languishes in the edgy palms of the legal heir, who focuses on clone-like filmmaking, while ignoring its deserving potency.
Not just from the perspective of revenue generation, but, more necessarily, from the view of sharing the magic with worthy youngsters, denied such ephemeral quality of content. The good news, though, is that the situation can still be salvaged, with a smart blend of thought and action.
First, and most importantly, we need to establish the Ray Brand Council, an autonomous body of content and marketing experts, with a global representation. The objective - to facilitate multiple and diverse expressions of his creativity, spanning every possible medium. The primary audience will have to be defined as both youth and millennials, from a genuinely national and increasingly global footprint.
Here are a few ideas on how this approach can be made to succeed.
Every piece of published literature (Feluda, Shonku and the sundries) must be put up for a creative auction, inviting bidding from OTT platforms, production houses as well as independent creators. The objective is to have extensive cinematic representation (digital or theatre) of his canvas within a defined period of two years at the most.
On the science fiction genre, the ambit can well extend to Hollywood, for an international audience may well have an appetite for this. Translations in English and other relevant tongues must lead to printed, audio-format and digital renditions for easy adoption.
But then, the above is just the foundation for the exercise, which will enjoy an autonomous online existence through a base website and dedicated YouTube channels. Now, young amateur creators will be encouraged to devise their own short interpretations (possibly guided) of the creative corpus, and share them amongst peer groups.
Artists can be roped in for design expressions, while theatre groups can perform online, in parts or full. Equally, like modern practice, fans can be activated to create further self-generated content, the Feluda series can ably multiply, quite like James Bond.
A key element for adoption will be multi-sensorial merchandising, commencing with Ray Cafes, a themed coffee and cutlet zone that can surely be brought to life by Specialty Restaurants or any such notable peer. These spaces can become creative incubators, a new-age Indian Coffee House, with admirable Wi-Fi and other suitable stimuli.
It is equally a mystery why T-shirts, caps, tote bags, and the like, have not yet been developed on a structured and scalable basis, enlisting the most motivated designers. Truthfully, there can be no barrier for premium avatars, with a Sabyasachi or Hidesign doing signature patterns or even high-end luggage.
The greatest tribute we can pay to the master, as he crosses 100, is to build an influential brand around his impeccable genius. In order to escalate his inimitable magic to a far larger universe in more ways than ever imagined.
Shivaji Dasgupta is an autonomous writer on brands and customer-centricity
Cover image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons