They say there are only seven kinds of stories in the world; plots and characters change — but the stories remain the same. A family drama is one of these stories. Rajshri Productions’ Prem Ratan Dhan Payo stays true to the production house’s style of bringing family dramas to the big screen.
The film has grossed collections worth R250 crore worldwide in its opening weekend and continues to be a buzz in the digital world. Meghna Sharma of BrandWagon spoke to Rajjat A Barjatya, MD and CEO of Rajshri Entertainment, which produces over 200 minutes of content for digital in-house across multiple genres and languages every day, to get an insight on the digital strategy of the film, digital revenue generation, what type of content works on the medium, and much more. Edited excerpts:
How did you make Prem Ratan Dhan Payo popular among today’s youth?
The most important thing is to stay true to the film and its content. The film was a family drama and it was positioned as one from the start of the campaign. The audience is very receptive to all kinds of content as long as it is engaging and honest. Moreover, the audience expects a film from the Rajshri banner which they can watch with their entire family. We used the digital first strategy to talk to the youth; all creatives were broken on the web before TV and we used social media extensively to communicate with the audience (primarily the youth) about the film. The popularity of Salman Khan helped. His popularity cuts across all age groups and social strata.
What strategies did you use for the virtual world?
We adopted a digital first strategy. All creatives (posters, trailer, songs, dialogue promos, behind the scenes units) were launched on the web before TV. The three ratans of PRDP — Salman, Sonam Kapoor and Sooraj Barjatya — spoke extensively to digital media about the film and their vision behind it. Salman and Sonam are also very active on social media and regularly shared content from the film, which helped reach out to their core fan base.
Many films are doing promotional activities online but not all are successful. What is your take on the trend?
I am of the belief that the marketing campaign of a film should be in sync with the film and you should know who the target audience is for your film. Moreover, digital is a two-way street. Today’s audiences can smell a film from afar by just looking at the trailer. They form opinions on social media, leave comments on your YouTube videos, tweet to you and give you feedback in multiple ways. On digital, you can course-correct based on what the audience is telling you.
Back in 2009, Rajshri was the most viewed video channel on YouTube in India. What has kept the momentum going?
The Rajshri network has grown tremendously on YouTube and other platforms. We have served over five billion video views across our 40+ channels on YouTube. Besides YouTube, we work with close to 100 of the world’s leading digital video platforms. We have close to 20,000 hours of content in our digital library. We also produce more short form content than anyone else in the country. We produce over 200 minutes of short form content in-house across multiple genres for YouTube and other web and mobile platforms — every day. The ratio of views from India versus overseas depends from channel to channel. Our kids’ channels get two thirds of their views from overseas; our Bollywood news channels get two thirds of their views from India; our local language channels get a majority of views from India; our food channels do well overseas.
What kind of content works for you on YouTube?
YouTube has become the go-to-platform for all kinds of content. We produce and aggregate content across multiple genres and languages and we see an insatiable appetite for a majority of our channels including channels for Bollywood films, local language films, Bollywood news and gossip, kids, music, food, yoga and lifestyle etc. Users have become very discerning about the quality of content and since you are competing with other channels from across the world, you have to benchmark yourself against the best in the world and not the best in India.
How easy or difficult is advertising on the digital medium?
We need to realise that India is a mobile first market. The youth, is a digital first audience. We are working with a number of brands that want to sponsor our digital content, integrate their products in our content and leverage the strength of the Rajshri network on platforms like YouTube to reach a global audience on-demand, anywhere and anytime. I see brands warming up to digital very quickly and this is just the beginning.
How do you see revenue models shifting?
A majority of revenue in India today is from advertising. This will remain and we will see more and more brands investing in digital. But we will also soon start seeing the evolution of paid subscription platforms for premium content like full length films. Better bandwidth (4G), better devices (smartphones) and easier payment options (mobile wallets) will collectively fuel this evolution. Today, even if I want to pay for a digital service, it is very hard for me to pay `100. We have to make the payment process frictionless for subscription services to take off. India will be a freemium market and the ecosystem is falling in place quickly.