There was a time when art house films didn’t quite reach the mainstream audience’s pulse but were strictly restricted to the film festivals. Gone are the days when some of the Indian films that ruled these film festivals but couldn’t make it’s presence felt at the box office. Times have changed and films like lunchbox (2013) , masaan (2015), Visaranai (2015) have evidently proven this fact. Though there are films like these that have garnered the necessary attention, there is always a conception that, to make art house films more commercially viable, one has to forcefully mix it with commercial elements to make it more engaging for the audience.
I truly believe that this is a misconception as audiences have evolved over the years and also, there are people who are exhausted by the stereotypical commercial flicks that make way into theatres. In such a case, What can one do to make his art house film more appealing to the masses?
More Relatable- More engaging!
If the audience is able to empathize with the characters in the film, the film is a sure shot winner! I wouldn’t for most cases obviously proceed watching a film that I couldn’t relate with and is also slow paced! Even if the film is moving at a dead slow pace, This relatability quotient will make the viewer at least watch the film! Just like how vetrimaaran says in an interview,’How a protagonist has an identifiable value for the viewer’ will determine the fate of his film. This is true as most of the art house films couldn’t make it at the box office is because of this connect that it didn’t possess with it’s audience.
How can it be more Relatable?
This relatable content could be achieved by focusing on some of the most primal human emotions such as love, greed or hunger. Even a life or death situation is a very relatable quotient for the audience. Vetrimaaran also said that he had happened to screen his film Visaranai (2015) for an african american lady driver (whom he met at USA) who found the film “quite moving” as she herself was a refugee and was able to relate with the film. This does not mean that the audience’s experience in situations of this kind determine the relatability factor, people naturally tend to empathize with the character if it is well presented.
Target audience- Appropriate promotional strategy.
Knowing one’s target audience is one of the most significant tools for the promotional strategies. If one has a clear idea of whom the film is going to talk to, one would get a clear image of how to present it to them. This also means, promotional strategies have to be planned right from the filming phases! I quite couldn’t relate with the characters of the film lunchbox (2013) and found it not engaging enough. But, the makers of lunchbox rightly knew their targeted audience (the middle aged women and men) and hence people like me that couldn’t connect with the film didn’t affect the fate of the film at all.
This is the kind of clarity that vetrimaaran had possessed for his films, who said that he had two entirely different promotional strategies for his films Kaaka Muttai (2015) and visaranai (2015) during the initial stages itself.Do watch the interview below and let us know your views on it.