While it is still a relatively new phenomenon in Pakistan, film promotions have now become even more important than the films themselves. If a film is promoted well, the chances of it doing well at the box office are higher. That’s also something that is said about the Bilal Ashraf and Armeena Khan starrer Janaan. Many people in the industry attribute Janaan’s success to the way the film was promoted because the actors and producers were everywhere. Hareem Farooq, producer of the film, said that she had done 25 TV appearances for Janaan and that didn’t even include all the other appearances the cast and crew had to make.
We wondered how many hours the actors are actually putting in because making all these appearances must be pretty time-consuming, not to forget tiring. Sanam Saeed, who is currently promoting her film Dobara Phir Se, explained the way the industry is evolving at the moment, where even the actors used to underestimate the amount of work a film requires aside from the shooting part but have now become wiser.
We were also informed that all of these hours that the actors are putting in are unpaid hours. Meaning that the actors have been paid for the shooting part of the film, but the entire month which they spend promoting the film, is not paid for. “Films have just started happening so we’re all learning. They’re learning, we’re learning. We definitely need to learn, and have learnt, that there’s a different budget for your time that you need to allot. And we didn’t know that before. It’s the same amount of work, 30 days of your precious, precious time that you have to commit to this, which is a lot of work. It’s for free but yes, it is your project that you’re selling but time is money,” Sanam rightfully pitched in.
We can justify that film promotions fall into the domain of a film contract but then the fees should be jacked up accordingly. Actors should charge a higher figure because it’s one month of unpaid work in which they cannot take up other projects or commitments because they don’t have the time.
Saeed added: “Now we have learnt this. And I have done this three times. By the time my first film came out, I had already signed the other two, but now I’m like ‘there’s a fee for this and a fee for that. You have to pay for your own clothes, do your own hair and make up, then you have to give your time. Today, we have been here since 11 am.” That would be fine if things were made clear from day one (and compensated).
Coming down to the question of clothes. These many appearance require a lot of clothes because of course, the stars have to look their best, as well as have something new to wear each time. Apparently, this also comes from their own pockets. “We have to hire a stylist, or pay a stylist to get clothes for you, or go through your wardrobe. You have to get more clothes because you have to do so many things. The budget is your own. The film doesn’t pay you for that,” said Sanam.
At the end of it all, I wondered how the actors have all this energy to be able to promote their film effectively but Sanam was quick to point out that the promotional work may be tedious, but that doesn’t take away from why they’re doing all this in the first place. “Because we love our work and want it to do well at the end of the day. The movies that haven’t done well didn’t do well because they weren’t promoted properly. Even Karan Johar needs to promote his films even though we would think that he doesn’t need to.”