Horses for courses. Yes, it applies to film stars as well. There are genres that suit certain stars well, and don’t suit certain other stars at all. We often say this during our film discussions, e.g. “He is good in romantic roles only”, “He can’t do comedy”, “He is the most versatile actor” and so on.
But what does the consumer think?
We collected data to this effect. It was actually meant to be a fun exercise, for internal consumption only. But when we started sharing the results with the film fraternity, we got excellent response. It seemed that the findings were, as someone said, “directly useful”. Hence, I thought they should be put up here for public consumption.
Essentially, we asked theatre-goers a question for 16 male stars. For each star, they had to pick one out of the following genres that suited him the most – comedy, action, romance, family, none.
Why only these four genres? Because these are the ‘organic’ genres, where star imagery has a strong role to play. Other genres like thriller, horror, sci-fi etc. are not image-driven in principle. Also, we hardly make enough films outside these four genres for consumers to have any real opinions around them.
Why ‘none’? Because there are some stars someone may not want to see in the theatre at all. Why, then, should we force the consumer to pick a genre in such a case? The ‘none’ option handles the forced choice.
The table below captures the results. All figures are in percentage. While going through it, remember that each star has a different popularity level (check OrmaxMedia’s tweets on SIL). So comparing numbers across columns is not necessarily the best way of looking at this data. We need to look row-wise to understand each star’s imagery, than compare them across the columns. The stars have been arranged in the descending order of their popularity according to the March 2012 SIL (Stars India Loves) report.
|Saif Ali Khan||19||18||24||18||21|
While the data tells its own story, some observations that may help you read it better:
1. Aamir Khan clearly emerges as the most versatile actor. 3 Idiots gives him a comedy star imagery, but he has substantial share in all four genres. Abhishek Bachchan and Saif Ali Khan too have well-divided share. But in their case, qualitative research evidence tell us that it is because of undefined imagery than because of versatility.
2. Across stars, the last 1-2 releases have an overbearing impact on the imagery, indicating that it is not very difficult to break a star’s image. For example, Shahrukh would have never been associated with action. But with Ra.One and Don 2, his action share is a sizable 16%. Hrithik’s 48% action share seems a combination of his Krrish stunts and the more recent Agneepath. Akshay Kumar, once a big action star, is now seen more as a comedy star, something that can change again with Rowdy Rathore.
3. Having said that, if a star does a film outside his image-defined space, it will be a real challenge. The film will have to be really good at a campaign and content level for it to work. Examples: Shahid or Ranbir in an action film or Ajay Devgn or Akshay Kumar in a love story.
4. Emraan Hashmi, the rising star of this year, is seen as a romantic star. But evidently, his kind of romance is very different from that of Shahrukh, Ranbir and Shahid. Emraan’s romance is the “kiss wala romance”. The 21% who chose ‘none’ in his case were largely women, who incidentally love the romantic genre and are the core target audience for Shahrukh, Ranbir and Shahid!
Hope you find the data useful. If you have any questions, you know where to find me!