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"Subhash Ghai Came Into My Life When I Was Very New to Film Marketing": Shikha Kapur, CMO, Fox Star India

Shikha Kapur, Fox Star India's recently appointed chief marketing officer, talks about her decade-long career.

Shikha Kapur, chief marketing officer, Fox Star India is someone who never planned to be a film marketer. It was purely her passion and obsession with films that landed her in Bollywood, where she is living her dream, every day.

"Subhash Ghai Came Into My Life When I Was Very New to Film Marketing": Shikha Kapur, CMO, Fox Star India
A small town girl, Kapur did her schooling from Convent of Jesus & Mary, Mussoorie, where movies were a part of her life. "I would dance and sing like any other girl," recalls Kapur. After her college from Lady Shri Ram College, where she was pursuing honours in Philosophy, Kapur went in for a graphic design course from Aptech in Delhi (1996-1997). She had, prior to that in her college days, freelanced with independent artists and graphic designers and found interest in animation and graphics.

In 2001, post her marriage, destiny brought her to Mumbai as she started working as a consultant with Reflections, a studio that specialized in corporate AVs and then worked under Vikram Sathay at Metalight Productions, as PR manager, in 2002. She marketed three movies with Metalight, 'Satta', 'Dil Vil Pyaar Vyaar' and 'Teen Deewarein'.

"When I moved to films, I realised that one should always do what one believes in," she says. In 2003, Kapur moved to Subhash Ghai's Mukta Arts as head of marketing. Some of the movies she worked on were 'Iqbal', 'Aitraaz' and 'Kisna'. Ghai made her unlearn the whole movie marketing process. "He said that you need to believe in a product and carry the same belief in that product. Not all movies are made on excel sheets, not everything has to have logic/numbers," she says.

Kapur's obsession for Aamir Khan, famously called the perfectionist in Bollywood, drove her to UTV Motion Pictures. "I had seen Aamir's first look in Rang De Basanti and wanted to work on the movie. Coincidently, UTV was hiring at that time. I met Siddharth (Roy Kapur, MD of The Walt Disney Co) and we got along," Kapur adds.

Leaving Ghai was a big emotional time for her as he was instrumental in her learning about the work she now excelled at. "Subhashji came into my life at a time when film marketing was new for me. He reposed a lot of faith in me at a time when I was unsure of myself. He gave me the freedom to implement my ideas. Under his guidance I understood what it really takes to put out a film to the audience it is meant for."

Kapur thinks her first taste on what PR meant was during 'Iqbal'. Ghai told his team to start showing the film (the unedited version). "He said that when 'you want people to adopt the film', that's a really good way to do it. I picked up the fact that you go by your instinct and then take accountability of it. Subhashji used to believe that creativity is not just personal indulgence, it's a collective opinion on what really sells."

She moved on to head marketing at UTV Motion Pictures and worked closely with Ronnie Screwvala, Roy Kapur and Khan to release Rang De Basanti. "Ronnie and Sid pretty much shaped who I am today, in terms of my professional abilities and career highlights. Ronnie believed in me and let me take over the reins and projects. Sid let me learn from my mistakes and always backed me. Otherwise, we would not have been able to deliver cult campaigns like Rang De Basanti, DevD, Barfii or Rowdy Rathore. That really came from the collective vision of Ronnie and Sid."

Kapur agrees with the fact that in today's day and age, marketing is one of the single largest drivers for the box office of a film. "When a well-marketed film opens to big numbers, it sets the platforms for the film to do better numbers in course of its life at the box office. The first three days are the most critical one's for a film and therefore all marketing is focused on delivering those three days," she points out.

According to Kapur, the key marketing factors are: know your audience, believe in research, understand that not all movies are marketed with a particular formula and finally - 'be passionate about your work'.

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