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Enter, box-office brandwagon - Door of product promotion opens up for cash-starved Tollywood

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  • Published 18.08.06

The whimsical cine-goer can take the shirt off a hero’s back, but not his vest. For the film star has taken that precious piece of clothing to heart — and for a hefty fee not likely to be ripped off by one flop Friday. After Suniel Shetty, Sunny Deol and Salman Khan, it’s the turn of Tollywood top gun Prosenjit to look vest-ward.

Cashing in on his screen image of an action hero with a heart of gold, Prosenjit, who signed up as the new face of Lux Cozi on Thursday, feels product endorsements can be a big thing for Tollywood. In an industry starved of funds and films, the brand bandwagon could mean a lifeline for actors.

“When we started out 25-30 years back these opportunities didn’t exist. But a lot of actors are endorsing products in Mumbai and even in the regional industries now. Brand promotion is an area the next generation of actors here can definitely explore,” said Prosenjit, striking a brand new pose for the Calcutta-based hosiery company.

When it comes to picking a celebrity from Calcutta, the ad mart is clearly looking beyond a certain Sourav Ganguly. Till the other day, the Prince of Calcutta was ruling the brand promotion pitch, from Pepsi to Sona Chandi Chyawanprash. Now, cricket’s loss could be tinsel town’s gain — from Prosenjit to Jeet.

“We are expanding the market in Bengal and so we were looking for a big name for our brand promotion. Prosenjit’s image of a macho yet gentle man suited our product,” said Ashok Todi, chairman and managing director, Lux Hosiery.

Tollywood is beginning to throw up ad stars to woo companies and their consumers. There’s been a Jeet playing “parar chhele” and chasing a Thums Up crown through a Calcutta bylane, Sreelekha Mitra playing Bangali bou to Aamir bhadralok Khan and sipping Coca-Cola, Roopa Ganguly donning the look of a baiji to a socialite for jewellery house A. Sirkar and Raima Sen playing brand ambassador for Lakme and the Calcutta wing of Westside.

“Product endorsements bring good money and give good exposure. But the product has to go with one’s image. Endorsement is just like acting — you sell your image and beauty,” stressed Roopa Ganguly, brand ambassador for A. Sirkar.

Her GenX colleague Raima Sen echoed: “Product endorsements bring a lot of exposure and money. But you have to be conscious about the kind of product you are associating yourself with, as there’s a social responsibility too.”

Raima’s sister Riya, now based in Mumbai, has grabbed national screen space with more campaigns than films. Time for Tolly stars to eye both brand and box-office?