Money & Careers

Movie masala on the move

Praveen Pookadan’s life, so far, unspools like a typical Malayalam film. It has all the ingredients of a pot-boiler: sweat, success, tears, downfall, unrequited love, marriage and a brave comeback after being down in the dumps.

Advertising career

From a creative copywriter whose innovative promotional campaigns for Malayalam films won acclaim, Praveen’s advertising career was a huge hit. Just when life was so beautiful, he planned to marry the girl of his choice, his business crashed. Plunged in huge debt Praveen saw his friends turn strangers in a day.

“I needed to pick myself up. My family and a couple of people in the Malayalam film industry helped. I could not think of doing anything beyond cinema. That’s how, with a bank loan, movietodayonline happened,” says Praveen, whose slick online film magazine is widely read. And now Praveen has tweaked existing software which makes his magazine available on any mobile phone with a media player.

Graduating in Philosophy, Praveen found that this was not to his liking. A brief stint in the Gulf ‘to back his family’ and Praveen was back to Thrissur, his home. Things began moving when he joined an advertising agency as copywriter in Palakkad.

“A year and a half and I was sent to Kochi to head operations there. That was boom time for realty business, which made my job easy. We also had a monopoly on film advertising rights for newspapers and magazines. Added to this we had some good corporate clients. My work for films like Arabikatha and Chocolate was appreciated. I was gaining in experience, in confidence. In 2007, I decided to break away and started ‘Pink and Purple.’”

This was the phase when Praveen took film marketing to a different level. Movies released in theatres became just one part of a wider narrative jigsaw that stretched beyond the walls of a theatre and across other forms of media.

“When we started we realised that creating anticipation of a film was not just about a poster, a trailer, a few glossy photos and videos. We decided to go into more details, innovate. For films like Pokkiri Raja and Anwar we did interesting road shows, flooded the media with info. Till this time Malayalam films were released in only select theatres outside the state. We negotiated with Imax and multiplexes in all the Southern states and Goa. The result was that we had 30 stations screening these two films.”

In a year, (2008-2009) Praveen marketed and promoted nearly 100 films. That was when life turned on its head. “Four films we had put our money on were released the same day. All of them bombed. We lost a lot. The producers owed us money, which we never got. There were bills to pay to various media houses and others.”

That was a terrible phase in Praveen’s life. The girl he had planned to marry refused to go ahead with the relationship, creditors hounded him. “My family supported me. A couple of people like producer Mulakupadam Tomichan and director B. Unnikrishnan helped me. If ever I write my life’s story the title would be ‘A day between two nights.’ That one day almost ruined me.”

But Praveen clawed back. And he pitched himself into cinema again. “The online film magazine was launched last year. It has been steady going so far. I have got a regular client who advertises; gradually, the film world started taking notice. Now I do both content marketing and also a complete package for a film that includes publicity in my magazine and other media.”

One lakh hits

The website follows a film right from the ‘pooja’ to audience reports and reviews. “We now have a group of around 52,000 active members. The biggest hit we had so far was one lakh. Surprisingly, we are followed by people from the far corners of the world.”

Praveen has gone a step ahead. He has created a cocktail of existing applications to make his magazine ‘mobile phone enabled.’ “As far as I know such magazine can be read only on android and smart phones. Our magazine can be read on any mobile phone that is Java script enabled and has a media player. We have just put together existing software applications for this. But the result has been amazing. Now, movietoday will find a much wider reach.”

Praveen, who got married in February this year, marketed the successful Mohanlal-starrer Grandmaster. “I have a few new films in the pipeline. We have also plans to start a style and fashion online magazine called ‘S&F’. We have rechristened ourselves ‘Black Pepper’ and soon we will have a get together of all online sites where we will discuss plans of starting an organisation.”


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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 2:23:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/money-and-careers/Movie-masala-on-the-move/article12550030.ece

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