Promoting films at colleges is helping the Telugu film industry

When Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra visited a city college to promote Anjaana Anjaani a couple of years ago, it created quite a flutter. Students and faculty alike were excited, while the media went into a tizzy trying to capture the mood and the moment. Today, that trend is catching on strong in the Telugu film industry, with most film units making the rounds of city colleges before the release of their movie. Take for instance, Sesh Adivi’s K.I.S.S, Madhura Sreedhar’s Backbench Students or Mohan Krishna Indraganti’s Anthaka Mundu Aa Tarvatha; all of them were promoted at various city colleges.

What was earlier a marketing ploy by Bollywood, with people like Ayushmann Khurrana, Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra visiting colleges, has now been recognised as an effective business tool by Telugu filmmakers as well. Earlier Telugu films like Oh My Friend and Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum also made the rounds of city colleges, paving the way for the newer crop of films.

Actor and filmmaker Sesh Adivi, who went to several colleges across the state before the release of his film K.I.S.S., says that while it might not always be easy to get the go-ahead from college administration, visiting colleges is a good business decision. “There were two reasons why I approached colleges to promote my film. First, the students belong to my generation and they might understand my thoughts better. Second, it is purely a business decision. The first week is extremely important for any film these days, what with piracy plaguing the industry. And it is the youngsters who go in large groups to watch films during the opening week. So it makes sense to visit colleges for promotional activity,” he explains.

While most film units show students the rushes and talk them through the making of the movie, filmmaker Madhura Sreedhar turned his promotional activity into a learning experience for students of an engineering college before the release of his film Backbench Students. “It makes sense to promote films in a college if its concept appeals to youngsters. Since Backbench Students was about engineering students, we approached Muffakham Jah Engineering College to promote the film there. We had the cast of the film sit through a class with the students. But what I also did was take a one hour session on alternative careers for engineering students in the entertainment industry,” he says.

With most city colleges now offering courses in media, the administrators are not shying away from hosting film units. “But they should have something educational to offer as well. For instance, we had Adivi Sesh, who did come, but spoke to the students about some aspects of filmmaking before promoting his film,” says Cinny Annie Sunny, the HOD of Mass Communications at St. Francis Degree College.

“We have had Ayushmann Khurrana, Uday Kiran and Sesh Adivi visit our college to promote their films,” says Fareeha Mohammed, Mass Communications lecturer at Villa Marie College for Women. “While these sessions might not always be very useful from the education point of view they are fun for the students. Besides, both parties – the college and the film unit – benefit in terms of publicity. Sometimes the filmmakers share some insights with the students about the making of a film, which could help those who are interested in filmmaking,” she adds.