Digitization in Indian Cinema came like a wave, one that is here to stay. With a major chunk of the digital revolution being focused on the youth, it has become imperative for the industry to tap the best means to reach its target audience. Not one to be left behind, Hindi Cinema has left no stone unturned to maximize the use of the digital medium to innovate and create an impact on the minds of its viewers.

The dynamic entertainment industry is always experimenting on new approaches to create publicity and have a wider reach. There are more than 800 movies that release each year in Bollywood and to fight this tough competition, biggies and new entrants alike, are pacing their way through digital media.

Leading from the front row is YouTube, which has reigned for the most time and is a very accessible medium by any. An entrant in the digital playing field that changed the industry game. From providing a platform for various promotional ideas to becoming the sole platform for various exclusive releases, YouTube has been the go-to tool for various Hindi films.

Om Shanti Om

The Shahrukh Khan – Deepika Padukone starrer Om Shanti Om was amongst the first films to employ the use of YouTube in a unique marketing strategy. The makers released various videos of the movie much before the release date to create unbelievable hype. A trick which is now used by almost every Hindi film in a bid to draw eyeballs much before the film’s release. Back then, this earned Om Shanti Om the title of the ‘most anticipated movie’ of that year.

Another extraordinary approach to film marketing was adopted by Anurag Kashyap’s Dev D, where the makers posted several uncensored videos and trailers of the film on YouTube. These videos soon became viral creating a buzz around the film. Dev D is also known to have started the trend of posting deleted scenes from the movie online, thus generating added interest amongst the audience.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani helmed by Ayan Mukherjee took a step further when it exclusively released the song “Badtameez Dil” on YouTube before launching it on TV. Within two days, the song had garnered 1 million views. Today song releases and trailer launches are a staple in every film’s marketing plan.

It’s the numbers that YouTube provides in terms of reach that make it an inevitable tool. Eros International officially tied up with YouTube during the digital promotion of Love Aaj Kal. They created a huge hype and received more than 100 million views. Following suit were Disney UTV and Red Chillies Entertainment who joined hands for digitally marketing Chennai Express over YouTube.

Shah Rukh Khan at the launch of the Ra.One YouTube channel

Shah Rukh Khan at the launch of the Ra.One YouTube channel

A constant name when it comes to digital innovation and the use of YouTube for unconventional gimmicks to promote a film is King Khan. His home production Ra. One officially collaborated with Google India and made a one-of-a-kind custom YouTube channel where Ra.One related digital comics and game trailers were regularly released.

Another Shahrukh – Deepika starrer Chennai Express created a very streamlined YouTube channel with a section named “SRK Tips”, where Shahrukh Khan talked about his scenes and the preparation involved in them. A definite way to grab the attention of viewers and take them behind the scenes of a film.

Digital marketing is the new ‘word of mouth’ for films. From teasers, theatrical trailers, behind the scenes, interviews to first look, music launch, deleted scenes, city tours, movie premiere, movie’s post-release promotion, etc., YouTube channels are the talking point for films today. And this goes beyond just promotion with already released movies available for purchase on YouTube. Or one could watch all the movies they desire with the easy-to-use subscription options.

YouTube does not only provide a success mantra for big-budget Bollywood films but many small players have garnered widespread reach via this platform. Aspiring filmmakers today do not need to find distribution or pump in loads of money to release their films. They can simply release their shorts and features online. A feat that has helped introduced infinite talent to the world and given filmmakers a chance to take their art to various other platforms like film festivals and gain popularity all over.

Still from Ahalya

Still from Ahalya

One of the recent short films that has gained popularity via its release on YouTube is Sujoy Ghosh’s Ahalya. A film that addresses feminism in a unique manner by giving a new spin to the age old tale from the Ramayana. One more brilliant online film came from Aghaaz Productions’ Selfie, which talks about looking into our inner self rather than creating perspectives about society. Selfie garnered much appreciation and traveled to festivals like the Manatarang Film Festival, 2014 and ICE National Film Festival, 2014.

The talent that YouTube offers isn’t restricted to films alone. The success of online videos gave birth to brands like All India Bakchod and East India Comedy, online platforms for stand-up comedians; The Viral Fever (TVF) that has garnered a huge fan following through their mini online series “TVF Pitchers”; Funny movie reviews by Kanan Gill and Kalyan Rath and many others. Their viral worthy content coupled with the reach of the Internet has added a new feather to digital revolution.

The generation of hashtags is giving serious competition to big players. It is not just about promoting content on YouTube but ensuring that it stand-outs and connects with the target audience. YouTube has become a hero and a saviour for all kinds of players who look forward to make their mark in the shimmering lights of the entertainment world.

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