How Chhapaak went ‘beyond marketing’ for promotions

Recent times have seen Bollywood come up with socially relevant films – be it ‘Article 15’, ‘Aligarh’, ‘Shahid’, ‘Toilet – Ek Prem Katha’, ‘Padman’, ‘Pink’, and ‘Hindi Medium’, among others. ‘Chhapaak’, the much-discussed movie starring Deepika Padukone and Vikrant Massey, that focuses on the very relevant issue of acid attacks on women, releases today (January 10, 2020). The movie is based on the life of acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal, and is directed and produced by Meghna Gulzar along with Deepika Padukone in collaboration with Fox Star Studios. 

Watch the trailer:

The film was announced on December 24, 2018 by Deepika Padukone on her Twitter feed and has been a part of conversations since then. 

Marketing initiatives 

Fans first got a taste of the movie on December 10, 2019 when Fox Star Studios launched the official trailer. Deepika Padukone also shared posters of the film with an emotional caption, saying, “Rarely do you come across a story where you do not need an entire narration to decide if you want to be a part of a film or not. What is even more rare is to not be able to articulate and put into words what you feel for the film. It’s a journey.” 

Deepika Padukone today has 42.6 million followers on Instagram and about 26 million followers on Twitter. Co-actor Vikrant Massey has about 4 lakh followers on Instagram, while on Twitter he has a reach of 29,000 followers. Laxmi Agarwal, on the other hand, has about 1.6 lakh followers on Instagram, whereas on Twitter she has around 5,500 followers. The production house for this movie, Fox Star Studios, is followed by about 3 lakh people, while on Twitter they have a reach of about 2 lakh. These numbers are quite significant not only due to the volume of the total followers these people have, but also the various demographics they reach out to. 

Getting Laxmi Agarwal involved in the promotions for the movie gives the movie a more emotional touch. All the people involved have been putting up similar posts of trailers, posters, songs that are a part of the movie. Laxmi Agarwal and Deepika Padukone were even on the cover of Femina together. Such posts have been getting huge traction. While Deepika has been getting 2-3 million views on her posts, the others range anywhere from a few thousand to an engagement of lakhs. 

Deepika has also shared various glimpses from the sets of the movie on her social media. During this, she was seen winking at the camera as a challenge to the official ‘wink girl’ Priya Varrier. Reacting to Deepika’s video, Priya wrote, “Did the goddess herself wink???!!! No better way to end 2019. Fallen.” 

While shooting in Delhi, various videos of Deepika in full make up were leaked, which worked well to further promote the movie. 

Various brand associations have helped the movie get ‘out there’ too. The movie has brand partnerships with Joy Skin Care and, which is a healthcare financing platform. While Joy have launched a new range of products called ‘Joy Sensitive’ suitable for sensitive skin for acid attack survivors, created a new TVC which features Deepika Padukone and shots from ‘Chhapaak’. 

The ‘Chhapaak’ team also followed the standard marketing calendar that every movie follows. Deepika was seen in shows like ‘The Kapil Sharma Show’ (Sony TV), ‘Dance Plus’ (Star Plus) and ‘Indian Idol’, the film was also promoted through title track launch events and interaction with the media. Several newspapers and publications have covered ‘Chhapaak’ in one way or another. Circulating the controversy around the film, the movie and Deepika especially got even more coverage from the media. 

The controversy 

Just ahead of the movie’s launch, Deepika visited JNU in Delhi, which was the scene of violent attacks on students by masked goons recently. This saw people on social media divided into two camps, with #BoycottChhapaak and #ISupportDeepika trending. Whether it was a marketing stunt or a genuine attempt to express the actress’ solidarity with the students is difficult to say. 

While a set of people took Deepika’s participation in a negative way, who saw her as siding with the ‘Leftists’, there were many who supported her bold move and guts to be a part of something so controversial, and that too so close to the release of her film. 

Deepika is a smart player and she is aware of the consequences of her actions and has a clear understanding of the resources at her disposal. While a paid army of trolls attacked her, a mixed of paid, followed by genuine fans came out in her support. She also received ample support from her peers in the film industry. 

Along with the furore over Deepika’s JNU visit, a controversy was also created by some, who said that the name and religion of the acid attacker was changed in the film to appease the minority community. It was pointed out that while in real life, the man who attacked Laxmi Agarwal was Nadeem Khan, in the movie he is named Rajesh. However, this proved to be fake news as the acid attacker is called Bashir Khan in the movie, while Rajesh is the name of the character who plays Deepika's friend in the movie. 

This is not the first time that Deepika has faced flak from a section of the people. Earlier, she had to bear the brunt of a fringe group called Karni Sena for her film ‘Padmaavat’. Apart from that, the actress has largely stayed away from controversy of any kind. 

What also needs to be pointed out is that even as #BoycottChhapaak trended on Twitter, people were seen favouring Ajay Devgn-starrer historical film ‘Tanhaji’ in an attempt to pit the two movies against each other. Several posts were put up showcasing people cancelling their tickets online. What is funny to note is that the tickets shown in all posts showed the same seat numbers! Along with this, there were also quite a few supporters of Deepika who were seen offering to sponsor tickets for ‘Chhapaak’. 

Here’s how Twitteratis responded to the controversy: 






Here’s the big question 

Was Deepika’s involvement in the protests a smart marketing stunt for her movie or was it a true sign of support? Either way, people who truly believe she was supporting the protests really love her for her bold move which eventually initiated other celebs to speak up. If it is a marketing stunt, well everyone is talking about it aren’t they? The movie has got so much talk about it now leading to the release today. Seems like a win-win for Deepika and ‘Chhapaak’.


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