Shah Rukh turns to toys, comics for promoting 'RA.One'

Bollywood film production houses are adopting innovative ways to market their films and to create a strong franchise around characters by launching games,novels and merchandise items to woo fans.

For instance, come Diwali, Shahrukh Khan's fans will not only get to watch the mega flick on big screens, but they will also be able to possess an action figure of the superhero 'G.One' or games that will enhance the level of engagement with the leading character.

Similarly, iRock Productions is working on a Abhay Deol starrer film 'Shaadi of the Dead', which will introduce zombies in Indian films. It is also set to release a 76 pages graphic novel this month. The film is expected later this year.

"The whole idea is to create a huge collection of merchandise, including comics, toys, games, back to school items to build the franchise of Shah Rukh's character G.One in the film," Red Chillies Entertainment, Digital and New Media Head at Shailja Gupta told PTI.

She said Red Chillies has struck licensing deals with different companies for manufacturing products like jars, water bottles, frisbees, apparel and caps.

"We have also rolled out a range of electronic items like handycams, netbooks and tablets," Gupta said, without disclosing the investment being made by the firm in these initiatives and the revenue targets from the merchandise range.

She said that there would also be a big thrust for graphic novels. "We have a big plan to roll out a limited edition of physical copies of a graphic novel," she added.

As for 'Shaadi of the Dead', the novel titled 'Zombie Talkies: Bloodfest in Bollywood' is being published by Delhi-based Pop Culture Publishing.

"It is a pre-cursor to the film's release later this year," Culture Publishing Founder Jatin Varma said.

A host of production companies are considering similar initiatives for their films, he said.

Excel Entertainment, which is producing Shah Rukh Khan starer Don 2, is also working on a plan to roll out graphic novels for the film's marketing, according to people familiar with the development.

Commenting on the trend, Pop Culture Publishing's Varma said, "It is a very popular trend in the West to launch novels after or before the release of is catching up in India, too, and is an innovative marketing tool."

Asked about the potential market size, he said,"This is a new trend and since the market is very small at the moment, there are no syndicated numbers available."

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