How People Made ‘Sri Raghupati’ A Benchmark in Jollywood Industry

Sarma believed in word-of-mouth (WOM) publicity, a kind of unpaid publicity where information is spread from one person to another through conversation.
Ravi Sarma explains how the people of Assam made 'Sri Raghupati' a benchmark in Jollywood Industry
Ravi Sarma explains how the people of Assam made 'Sri Raghupati' a benchmark in Jollywood Industry
Himadri Kalita

My greatest achievement was when people complimented our team by expressing their happiness terming the movie as an ‘Upohar’ (gift) to them

Ravi Sarma

The Jollywood industry had been suffering a setback over the past few years with only a handful of movies making a record as the taste of the Assamese audience along with the rest of the country is evolving. The audience now demands a movie that has a combination of entertainment, a great storyline, acting and quality, believed to be the most important element of a movie in recent times.

However, in recent times, it is seen that the industry is managing to make movies in line with the taste of the audiences.

‘Sri Raghupati’ is one of those movies that made a impression on the Assamese audience with its storyline, acting, entertainment, emotional elements, and cinematic approach. The movie broke the previous record by making a benchmark in the Assamese film industry. It made the highest and fastest box office collection with over 10 crores in 21 days without doing much publicity as the makers believed that if the movie is good, people will show up without publicity.

Speaking on the publicity, the lead actor of the movie, Ravi Sarma said, “If we make quality films then there is no need for making so much publicity or promotion. The movie ticket sale will go to an exponential boom once it satisfies the craving of the audience. One may notice that when a promotion is done through social media platforms, it can only attract 10 percent of the people to watch the movie. When these 10 percent of people were satisfied after watching ‘Sri Raghupati’, they encouraged another 10 percent to watch and in this way, we could manage to make a benchmark in the industry.”

Sarma believed in word-of-mouth (WOM) publicity. It is a kind of unpaid publicity where information is spread from one person to another through conversation specifically advising on a particular movie, business, and product among others.

“I was counting on this exponential growth which is why I thought of not investing a lot of money on promotions that were not tested and trialed by traditions. There are three things that the audiences need to know- the quality of the film which the trailer already speaks for itself, the casting of film that is revealed in the movie poster, and the information related to the date and time of release which were uploaded on social media. I did not wish to go to educational institutions for the promotion of the film because it disrupts the studious environment of the institutions. And I am happy that my strategy worked and people who already watched the movie are encouraging others on social media to watch it. With this, I would like to include that I have hardly met a person who has not watched the movie at least three to four times,” he said.

When the movie got released in theatres, we found that a few miscreants uploaded them on YouTube channels. This made the filmmakers worried about its effect on box office collections.

After receiving the information about the piracy, Ravi Sarma contacted the stakeholders to inform them about the situation to which they replied, “Your movie is being watched more than two times in theatres despite being uploaded on various websites. This means that these miscreants are unable to hamper the box office collections."

Sarma further speaking on the success of the movie said, “The movie is attracting audiences from a few locations of the state where Assamese movies were hardly been watched by the residents. Barak Valley is one of those locations but now our movie is making houseful at two movie theatres in Silchar and Karimganj. In addition, a movie without a subtitle and dubbed version is being watched outside our state.”

“At present, we are bound to be careful before releasing a movie so it doesn’t coincide with another big budget movie but I hope that in the future, those movie makers from outside the state will have to be careful to not release at the same time when we are releasing our movies. This will be an achievement for us,” he added.

“It is true that the movie ‘Adipurush’ got rejected by the audiences due to various factors but at the same time, I feel that one of the reasons why it got rejected in our state is our movie. When audiences had a better choice in hand to watch, then why shall they watch something which received a bad review? If it had been released before ours, then the people might have watched it at least for once but I am happy that people are giving more priority to our movie,” Sarma said.

A day before the release of ‘Sri Raghupati’ movie, a lower court put a stay order on the release after hearing a case filed by the former producer of the movie. To this, Sarma said, “Our former producer had approached the court to put a stay order on our movie which was unnecessary as my present producer and myself were not party in that stay order. The petitioner stated that I had sold the copyright to two parties which my reputation doesn’t say and they themselves didn’t possess any copyright. It was basically a misunderstanding between us and our former producer.”

The movie had several emotional elements in it that made the spectators weep in the theatre halls. Upon being asked about these elements, the lead actor said, “Raghupati is another name of Lord Rama. This movie is similar to the mythological story of Ramayan where Lord Rama goes in search of his wife who was being abducted by Ravana and similarly, my story has a Ravana but instead of his wife, it was students of Raghupati’s sister who were abducted by him. My movie had a Hanuman played by Arun Nath as Salman Khan, Jatayu played by Siddharth Sarma as Kalyan Dutta, and Bibhisan played by Barnali Pujari as Bidisha. I feel the most emotional character was played by people who lost their dear ones such as the character played by me and my parents after losing Pori, parents of Yasmin and father of Tora.”

“While making a movie, we try to open multiple ports so that different age groups and social groups can plug into it and relate. The movie revolves around women trafficking and a scene of rape was also shown, but we tried to present it in such a manner that the senior audiences understand the scene while the toddlers do not realize but only feel gravity of the moment. We tried to give a message that women's safety should be given utmost importance. Women are always asked to remain indoors and behave in a particular way so they do not fall prey to these evils of society. But we must be aware that a few cases are reported where the family members of the victims rape them. Through the movie, we tried to make the male section of the society realize their roles to make the female members of their family feel safe,” he added.

As the movie made a benchmark in the Jollywood industry, expressing his joy at the success, Sarma said, “It was a happy moment for the team when we heard that we made 10 crore box office collection breaking the previous record. But as a responsible artist, my achievement is quite different from the collection record. My achievement is that I could satisfy the craving of the Assamese audience for which they thanked me and my team for presenting the movie as an upohar (gift) to them.”

It may be mentioned Ravi Sarma has reappeared on the big screen after several years as it took him five years to assemble a team to present a quality movie for his fans and Assamese people. He said, “I picked the director who directed the movie, the casts in the last five years. I had disappeared from the big screen as I was preparing for ‘Sri Raghupati’. I felt that if I work, it should have a quality, accepted by the people and this movie has received a great response from the people. I had put a lot of effort in the movie to make the benchmark so high for the filmmakers to be careful before making a film because they cannot feed the audience with a bad quality.”

“The success of the movie is being rejoiced by the members of the industry stating it as our movie,” Sarma said.

The team is also taking consideration to release it in the international movie theatres for the residents of Assam who are craving to watch the movie and talks are going on for the same keeping in view various factors. Ravi Sarma believes that if it is released outside the country, it will be well received by the Assamese people residing in the foreign land as they are more inclined to our culture than the people who are residing in their homeland.

Moreover, it should be noted ‘Sri Raghupati’ is not the first movie where Ravi Sarma was seen on the big screen after six years. Earlier, he was seen in the ‘Black and White’ movie which was originally supposed to be released as a web series. The actor was not prepared to make a comeback with this movie. However, it had to be taken down from the theatres because of poor slots and it coincided with Nipon Goswami’s last film ‘Dr. Bezbaruah 2’ which was going on in full swing. To avoid a further clash, it was later uploaded on Over-The-Top (OTT) platform.

During that period, Ravi Sarma made an emotional remark that although the movie ‘Black and White’ was somewhat well received by the audiences, yet deep in his heart he felt “alone” as none of his peers supported him. Later he took back the comment as he realized that his peers were not aware of the movie for which they were unable to provide the support he wished for. But at present, when they knew about the movie's release, the members of the Jollywood industry extended their support to him.

Further speaking on upcoming projects, Ravi Sarma said that he is trying to prepare his next movie which could be released in other states in dubbed version and he will start to write script for this movie by September this year.

Ravi Sarma said, “I will be busy with mobile theatres next few months and during that time I shall be writing the script for my upcoming project. Probably by September 2024, we will start shooting for the movie.”

The audience can only hope that like 'Sri Raghupati, Ravi Sarma's next movie will also leave a footprint in the Jollywood industry.

‘Sri Raghupati’ has made a benchmark in the Assamese film industry with the storyline, quality, and message given on women's safety. It may not be wrong that at first, several people went to watch the movie for Ravi Sarma who appeared on the big screen after several years but later when they realized how great it was, they recommended it to others, and within three weeks it was able to break the previous record of Jatin Bora’s ‘Ratnakar’ (2019) collecting 9.5 crores.

Does this mean that a movie should speak for itself without rigorous publicity?

Ravi Sarma explains how the people of Assam made 'Sri Raghupati' a benchmark in Jollywood Industry
Ravi Sarma's 'Sri Raghupati' Collects Over Rs. 1.4 Crores in First Four Days

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