Anatomy Of A Sexual Depiction: A Study Of The Marketing Shrewdness Of Ram Gopal Varma

Gods And Ghosts – The Excitement Engineered

Accept that the society is a bunch of idiots having absolutely no idea what they do and what they want, and you can play them according to your wish” Cornelius Castoriadis, Crossroads in the Labyrinth

It was just the other day that one of my good friends called me up in the middle of the night, to ask me what I thought about Ram Gopal Varma’s latest presentation “God, Sex and Truth”. To be honest, it wasn’t the middle of the night, hardly 9 or so, and I hadn’t really had an opinion about “God, Sex and Truth”. This friend of mine, upon learning that I was ignorant of the media tsunami this particular feature would rake up in time to come, donned an avatar of a good samaritan and started explaining about the feature. Three words that wrapped up what the frenzy was all about, to put it concisely, boiled down to – Objectification, PornStar and Arrogance. Was I truly surprised that these elements should invariably be the ingredients of juicy content and controversy (quite interchangeably so these days)? Not at all. In this country of deprivation and subjugation, don’t these words depict the strongest inflammatory reactions? Have we ever stopped to think why?

Well, this article, although blurted out as a thought out rant, tries to understand our highly predictive nature, when it comes to some “trigger words” such as Feminism, Sex, Porn, Religion and more. And more importantly, the article tries to understand how shrewd and creative minds can actually use these “trigger words” to illicit predictive reactions, and thus market any product, irrespective of its merit and worth.

SEX

Sex sells. This is something we all know. Be it print media, visual media, docu-dramas, novels, web scoutings, or even journals. Anything related to Sex is always an attractive hook point, and for someone gifted to be creative and intellectual, Sex becomes an essential tool of expression. Why look around when we have the perfect examples right here on our website. Any of our articles which even remotely speak of Sexual innuendos, abuse, or outright Sexual practices, become our most viewed and highly discussed topics. Ironically, even this article will be clicked upon, opened and read till this point, by most, because of their inherent presumption of availability of Sexual discussions.

On that note, the way we started the article, one might get an opinion that we are against using Sexual sketch boards in painting our creative outputs. If so, then there’s a chance that this article is something that could take you by surprise. What this article speaks for is the clever usage of the element of Sex to tell a story, or rather market a story, so as to have readers horde over it, irrespective of their intellect and understanding of the topic. Therefore, Sex sells is a foregone presumptive statement. Much rather, we believe, Sex is the easiest to sell. Would you say both are the same? Not really. Therein comes the deeper understanding, or the aforementioned shrewdness in dealing with the subject. Sex sells, implies that any output which involves Sexual actions and reactions is hurriedly lapped up by the eventual client/consumer and the product is a successful sales venture. If that is the case, every porn movie would be raking in millions and billions more than any superhero franchise out there. Hence proved.

Now, to the second statement, Sex is the easiest to sell. This involves a voluntary action from a creative mind to project Sex as a part of a narrative or the whole narrative itself for the target audience, basing again on the acceptability and intellect of the audience. To put it plainly, Porn just being put out there is not attractive to anyone. Porn which is tailor-made for a particular audience and taste has the highest chance of making good business. This logic is also the reason behind having about 1300 different categories of Porn online, the number of which, keeps escalating over time, depending on the cultural implications and situations.

Sexual Narrative And Philosophies…

Hence, the logic is, once you understand how the audience will react to something, anything designed to illicit Sexual arousal basing on such understanding becomes deeply personal, customized and highly entertaining. In this discussion where does Ram Gopal Varma’s marketing acumen come into play, particularly in the case of “God, Sex and Truth”. Many in the creative business will tell you that Ram Gopal Varma is a progressive intellectual whose deep-rooted philosophy of life, or rather disconnected philosophy, makes him an invaluable creative mind. But only a handful of people, who have carefully understood his way or working will tell you that Ram Gopal Varma’s greatness as a creative doesn’t just lie in the fact that he understands societal philosophy, but because he puts it to great use for his ventures. Application of knowledge, ergo of his understanding of society and its reactions, make him virtually impossible to ignore. Now how does he apply his understanding to benefit his projects, specifically “God, Sex and Truth”?

Till now, it is clear that Porn is the easiest to sell. And that Ram Gopal Varma showcases an unparalleled acumen to put his understanding of society, in toying with it. Now indulge my thoughts here from. Let us study the tantalizing poster of “God, Star and Truth” featuring Mia Malkova, where the woman is all but naked, covered rather obscurely by Ram Gopal Varma himself. The sheer audacity of the poster strikes you as awe aspiring. I can’t speak for everyone for the simple reason that I do not know everyone. And so, I thought it was a brilliant poster. As simple as that. It was bold, new, intriguing, arousing and inspiring. Isn’t that the whole point of glamour and beauty in the first place? Something that elicits a multitude of emotional responses, and keeps you hooked to the imagery. Hence, I felt the poster was brilliantly done. That’s the creative brilliance of Ram Gopal Varma. But the buck doesn’t just stop there. Whilst putting out the poster, Ram Gopal Varma had already anticipated the reactions and was clear on how he wants to deal with the backlash. The words on the poster “A Philosophical Treatise” is exactly placed on the poster to defend the product in the eventual distribution.

Predictive Nature Of Things…

He pretty much knew one thing for sure, the society is full of idiots, who will just watch the naked lady, and start getting aroused by it or start getting offended by it. The former group will just quietly masturbate to the poster if they are thoroughly impressed by it. They don’t pose any threat. The latter group, those who take offence, will become violent and take to platforms demanding the banning of the film. When this happens, Ram Gopal Varma would need a defence mechanism in place, and that achieved by the claim and exposition on the words “A Philosophical Treatise”, which obviously no one noticed. Why did no one notice that? Why did no one stop for a moment and try to understand those words written on the poster? Well, because we crave for Sex, either as a base of academic denial, or an arousing acceptance.

Sex, properly directed, is a drug we all need, to make ourselves valid and worthy. Either to fight it or to enjoy it. And thus, we as a group of different people actually played into Ram Gopal Varma’s exact plan. He sold Sex to us as a promise, targeting it to both banishment or support, all the while constructing a door (via A Philosophical Treatise and not a Porn presentation), to walk out if things didn’t exactly go as planned. But knowing Ram Gopal Varma through his philosophy and his innate ability to rake up anticipatory controversies, this was a foolproof tactic to put the product to grow by the word of mouth.

Feminism

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A question that confuses the staunchest supporters of Feminism, till date is perhaps this – You can bash someone who is outright insulting to the Feministic ideologies, you can crucify someone who abuses, or defies the idea of Feminism, but what do you do to someone who supports, rather celebrates progressive Feminism in all its glory, and yet is being morally outrageous towards the womanhood and the society itself? And when we are taking about demeaning womanhood, are we talking through the broken glass view of the society, which hypocritically is the very reason for Feminism to bring its voice to a necessary and habitual veracity.

From my humble understanding of Feminism, there are broadly perhaps two viewpoints of Feminism as a whole. One of which is ‘Radical Feminism’ and the other is ‘Progressive Feminism’. By definition, it is implied by the latter’s wordplay, that the former type of feminism is rather reductive and regressive. The understanding of these two types of Feminism in action and portrayal, in ideology and thought, and in supposition and accusation, is truly important. In all probability, we are currently either falling into Radical Feminism or Progressive Feminism, wouldn’t you say? Of course, the debate and discussion about Feminism and the forms and ideals it should adhere by is something of an expert discussion, to be taken up by the academic intelligentsia of the country, and the better aware. What we are concerned here in discussing is the manner in which both these categories of Feminism can expertly be used by the creative minds for product promotion.

Drifting back to the discussion on “God, Sex and Truth”, one hears a rather ferocious banter about how the projection of an adult star, as an adult star, is truly objectionable to the womanhood of the nation. Am I stepping into wild waters here? Maybe. But this statement is needed, to truly understand how we as Feminists have been played with and beaten in our own game of ideal propagation. How is that you ask? Let’s discuss the trailer now. What did Ram Gopal Varma do in the trailer that makes everyone sit up and take notice? Practically nothing. He just held a camera and followed the slender hands of Mia Malkova as she explored and celebrated her own body. That Varma implies is his version of Feminism. Trigger word, Feminism.

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The Trigger Point Initiated…

This was enough for the Radical protests to happen. Women from different walks of life took to public platforms, television channels and predominantly news channels, to absolutely condemn the feature “G0d, Sex and Truth”. The fire began. And as the fight escalated, so did the support started pouring in for the movie. People, feminists by choice, force or chance, started picking sides. Everyone had something to say. On the other hand, Media got a wonderful scoop item, which they didn’t even have to create. Panel discussions started, accusations flew around, people got targeted, and opinions were debated. One wouldn’t be surprised if in the meantime Ram Gopal Varma gulped a fine peg of whisky and literally chilled, whilst leaving all these puny people to fight and promote “God, Sex and Truth” in their own way.

People argued and questioned the ambitious and sometimes atrocious manner of Ram Gopal Varma, the person and the filmmaker. Some of these questions left me baffled – We know we are being played, quite ignorantly so, but are we so very stupid to lie down and ask Ram Gopal Varma to tramp us over. The following questions were literally asked by these so-called intellectuals,

1. How can I watch this movie with the whole family?

2. My son will get influenced by this movie, will you take responsibility for it?

3. If you were doing a porn movie, do it outside the country? Why here?

4. Why are you projecting women like that, we are not like that at all?

5. What is your fascination with a woman’s body, and will you do it if it was a man as well?

…and so on. This is the collective intelligence of our panellists in the so-called News Channels. They are on one hand being played by Ram Gopal Varma into promoting his film, and yet they want to go to a war with him, holding a grass straw in their hand. Feminism, thus, and feminists more, were left embarrassing themselves. Of course, there were among us, intelligent core feminists, who understood the play from the start and ignored the issue entirely. Perhaps that was the best thing to do if you truly wanted to fail Ram Gopal Varma. As a feminist, you ignore the movie, the talk or the star, and essentially you are making the creator go restless. You win. But sadly though, we believe in jumping into action and making a fool of ourselves than actually and actively avoiding the issue. I wonder sometimes, are we so easy to predict? The answer is not something you’ll like.

My Opinion On “God, Sex And Truth”

Now coming to my friend, who called me in the middle of the night, to ask me what I thought of “God, Sex and Truth”. It’s a great package is what I’d say. It’s a bold new product. For one, even if you didn’t tell who made it, but gave me the circumstances of our society, the outrage and awkwardness, and if I could see people fighting over it, I’d still tell you the mind behind it. Will I watch it? Maybe. You see I am a part of the society too, which drools over anything even mildly sexual. I belong to a society which will assume and attack as well, and so perhaps I will end up being disappointed too. Not because the feature gets released on a website, but because, of the million views that it may get, our protests would have contributed to 90 percent of them. That we as a collective of people were again proved to be stupid, and ignorant. Why is that we don’t understand a simple line of thought – No one is forcing you to watch “God, Sex and Truth”. Ironically, it is by our own apprehensions and discussions that we are forcing ourselves to see this tantalizing visual treat.

The Media Of Needy Application…

And as for the application of philosophy and trigger words, well people in media and authority will know that they are the biggest assets to have, in order to ensure chaos and confusion, and therein, lies an opportunity. More the confusion and subjugation, more the opportunities. Will we as a media and entertainment conglomerate, stop writing about sexual acts of violence or abuse, or about feminist ideologies, or religious intricacies? Of course not. We won’t stop writing it, because you won’t stop reading and acting upon it. We as a society crave for controversies and gossip. We can’t live without it. That’s the demand from life that we want.

In every age there will be a handful of people who will provide all the ‘talk material’ that is needed by the society, all the while selling their books, products, movies, teachings and more. That’s the creative brilliance of these men and women. That’s their gift and glory. Our age as well, has a few of these people. In this context, Ram Gopal Varma is one the greatest of all times. The last question which one could have as we end this article is, Am I supporting Ram Gopal Varma? Am I his fan? My dear reader, this pondering of yours would and can mean only one thing – You just won’t get it, will you?