It’s no accident that Ra.One is premiering during Diwali, the annual spiritual celebration that starts today for millions of people, since the project is one of the biggest events to hit Bollywood. The science fiction movie uses all of the latest digital technologies to create and promote a tentpole release that marks a bold and ambitious move for the Indian film industry.
The movie is a co-production of Eros International and Red Chillies Entertainments, which is headed by Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri Khan, and so far is Bollywood’s most expensive creation. Ra.One is released in both 2D and 3D, a conversion handled by Prime Focus. It was written and directed by Anubhav Sinha and stars Shah Rukh Khan, Arjun Rampal and Kareena Kapoor.
In September, in a first for both the mobile and the movie industry in the region, Nokia partnered with Ra.One to debut its NFC (Near Frequency Communication) capable smart phones in the Indian market on its new Symbian Belle operating system. To help educate consumers about the possibilities, NFC-tagged movie posters were posted in over 400 Nokia outlets and partner multiplexes. When people tapped them, they received music and other content from Ra.One.
Shah Rukh gave audiences their first look at the film using Twitter, and also established a dedicated Ra.One channel on YouTube with promotional content and extras, another first for the Indian film industry. He also has engaged in live video chat with global fans using the Google+ Plus Hangout feature in a promotional relationship.
Other elements in the massive promotional blitz include what is thought to be the first comic book based on an Indian movie, UTV Indiagames’ Ra.One Genesis, possibly the first social games from India, a special edition HCL laptop, contests for fans to create their own promotional trailers using actual clips, music and dialog, and dozens of sponsorships with brands including Formula One racing and Coca-Cola.
Then there’s the major release videogame, which Khan was involved with, and also marks a few Indian entertainment industry firsts. Released on October 5 at an event in Mumbai, Ra.One – The Game features original voice-overs from the actors and is available on PlayStation 3 for the international market and PlayStation 2 for the Indian market. The release was supported by a gaming tournament on Oct. 14.
The merchandising also would be familiar to Western marketers. There’s Red Chillies Entertainment’s own G.One Tablet, a 7-inch touchscreen tablet that runs Android 2.2 and costs only (about $190), along with technology-powered toys, school supplies, and many more products .
The soundtrack, which was released on Sept. 12, also demonstrates the project’s goals for worldwide success. It got its own promotional push and features a song called Dildaara, based on Stand By Me by Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and several songs performed by Akon.
Visual effects supervisor Haresh Hingorani has said RA.One is 60 percent digital effects and has 37 key digital effects scenes. The production used Cinesynch for virtual meetings several times a week, and used all of the tools in the digital creators’ toybox: Maya, Houdini, Nuke, Shake, proprietary software and more, both in-house and in collaboration with outside production houses.