Important Lessons from Kadhalil Sodhapuvadhu Yeppadi
Kadhalil Sodhapuvadhu Yeppadi is on its way to Super Hit status based on the collections both from Tamil and Telugu. The movie made within the estimated budget of 5 Crores had recovered the entire production costs even before the release date. This small movie has a number of big lessons for the movie industry and for aspiring film makers. Let's see some of the key ones,
1. Content is King
KSY proved that the movies need not be about coming up with a new story every time. It is more important to narrate even an oft-repeated story in a refreshing manner with a tight screenplay and engaging dialogues. This is all back to basics. Balaji Mohan took the necessary time to perfect the script spending more than one full year. Nirav Shah who had made ultra-stylish movies like Billa and Dhoom-2 adjusted his cinematography to suit the style that the script demanded.
Problem - Too many new comers these days focus on peripheral technical details and miss the content. This proves one thing. Script is the master and rest of the cast, crew and top heroes should work for the master (script) to get a quality product.
2. Planning, Planning and Planning
KSY was completed in record 36 days. Gone are the days when directors go to the shooting spot and write dialogues. Audience these days do not have enough tolerance to sit through half-baked efforts when there are so many alternatives around. Also from a monetary point of view, planning makes sense -- every day of shooting roughly costs around 2 Lakhs for lights, generators, camera operators, food caterers and other daily workers. By diligent planning, it reduces the need for taking unwanted footage (film cost) and maximizes the output from actors and technicians.
Problem: It is shocking to see the abysmal level of planning in Indian movie Industry. Even a week before the release date, movie makers struggle to confirm the release date for their movies. For example, one of the top 5 Tamil directors is notoriously known for starting and dropping movies in quick successions. The career of one of the National Award winning actors almost got decimated due to poor planning of the directors of his movies. Even some of our medium budget directors have taken 200 days due to lack of planning and execution. This results in deep losses for producers even though some of these movie made respectable collections at the turnstile.
3. Social Media Marketing and Promotions
Clearly understanding your target market is critical to movie's success these days. It is not important whether KSY will be a hit in C centers as long as the multiplex audience and A-centers embrace it. Let's say if the director had made creative compromises to suit all sections of the society when he took this theme to the bigger canvas, KSY would have failed to satisfied anybody. KSY's print campaigns and online promotions were clutter-breakers. The message on the print ads were aimed at capitalizing the brand equity generated by the short video. Instead of mass marketing, the KSY team used social media channels to promote the movie where their target audience usually hang out.
Problem: Unfortunately in the name of promotions, there is a prevailing misconception that movies need to be advertised every 10 minutes on popular channels. Some of our stars also have a mentality that promotions is below one's dignity since it is negatively perceived as ways to trick people to come to theatres. It is important to use promotions to reach out to your target audience to set the right expectations about the product.
4. Profit and Risk Sharing Business Model
The movie is made on a profit sharing model between co-producers (Siddharth and Nirav Shah). If this movie had flopped, nobody would have lost their shirts. The overall budget was in tune with the risk. The movie was shot with digital camera further reducing the production costs. Everybody knew the huge upside if this venture clicks. This is smart risk management. Also, the incentives are well aligned so all the parties worked hard till the movie release. Siddarth and Nirav Shah would make money only if the movie makes enough money. So, the desire to work hard and do the right thing is there from day 1 of planning until the day all the prints return home.
Problem: The reasons attributed for many big hero movies not being profitable for distributors is because our heroes charge up to 40% of the overall budget of the movie leading to numerous compromises including the quality of director, technicians leading to sub-standard production values. Once the salaries get deposited in their bank accounts, there is lack of motivation from leading heroes to give their full commitment until the very end. One such examples is a movie that was shot in London for 40 days more than a year back. The producer, director and other cast members are unsure when the hero will return to complete the remaining shooting.
5. Showcasing Talent
The barrier for entry to movie-making has reduced tremendously due to technological advances. But, knowing how to use it effectively is key to success. With the help of Social Media and ubiquitous internet, the 9 minute high quality KSY short video went viral and created an identity for the director. Similarly, aspiring makers should consider all possible options on the table to showcase their talents. Releasing short video on social media channels is one of the many ways to take risks, sodaphify and learn from mistakes until the director is ready for prime time.
Problem: Many of our aspiring makers drop-out as Assitant Director too quickly after working in one movie. Somehow, they also manage to find a producer, direct the first movie for negligible or no pay, fight hard to release it in limited theatres to see all their efforts go in vain when the movie flops after first day first show due to poor publicity or quality or often both.
It is easy to be deceived by the simplicity of KSY. There are tremendous amount of life lessons for lovers and for movie makers alike. When these learnings from KSY are applied with discipline to movie-making, many of the problems plaguing our Tamil Industry can be addressed.