[Photo Source: Facebook/Koral Dasgupta]
From Shah Rukh Khan’s creative branding to Bollywood’s penchant for on-screen romance, author Koral Dasgupta takes her readers through a detailed journey into understanding the concept of branding in the film industry and the complex emotions that an artist goes through.
“Shah Rukh Khan is too transient—if you dig out his filmography you will realize how the content of his films and his portrayal of characters have changed with time,” Dasgupta explained. “Though his on-screen characters he touched sentiments and off-screen, he sold one simple thought: that merits can substitute pedigree, looks, or riches—and how!”
Born in Bengal, and with an MBA from Lucknow, India, Dasgupta has always had a special relationship with books. “I was addicted to them,” she said. “Many times, I was caught red-handed and punished for hiding novels behind textbooks in class and also at home, when others were busy revising for upcoming examinations. I walked to school and back to save money so that I could borrow books from the local library. At home, too, we have a huge collection.”
As a columnist, she writes about various topics such as art, education, mythology, travel, parenting, books, films and others. Along with writing, Dasgupta teaches Marketing Management in business schools and consults with corporations in content and editorial spaces.
Her first book, “Shah Rukh Khan: Power of a Common Man,” was an academic analysis of Khan’s marketing genius as a popular Bollywood actor.
“It discusses how a character from showbiz captures the emotional brain of consumers and how PR machinery, coupled with the actor’s marketing genius, intelligently and creatively binds them loyally ever after,” Dasgupta said.
Although it dealt with principles of marketing, the target audience for the book wasn’t limited just to students and practitioners of marketing.
“Even a Bollywood enthusiast who is grossly disconnected from the academic space would find interest in understanding why things are the way they are,” Dasgupta explained. “In fact, while academicians from across the world wrote [me] congratulatory messages for taking this initiative, I received the most reviews from those who are neither students or professors, nor fans of Shah Rukh Khan. They just picked up the book with general curiosity and loved my interpretations on what happened in Bollywood after Shah Rukh Khan entered the frame.”
So what made the “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” actor the ideal topic for Dasgupta’s book?
“Shah Rukh Khan’s marketing brain talks to his consumers in multiple languages,” she said. “As a professor of marketing, it was an interesting journey for me to interpret and document that language, and yet not make the book academically taxing for the readers.”
According to Dasgupta, what makes Shah Rukh Khan stand out from other Bollywood actors is his ability to consistently replicate his successes by reinnovating and keeping himself up-to-date with technology.
“Shah Rukh Khan commands a place and pace, which is difficult for others to replicate,” she explained. “He is too well-knowledged about the business he belongs to and laps up change very fast. He loves to try new things and stay ahead—you will always finding him topping one chart or the other. He is either the top earning celebrity, or he is introducing some new technology, or he is making a film with the highest budget, or he has tried some marketing gimmick that becomes talk of the town. Matching his speed is way too difficult.”
Through Khan’s wit and oratory skills, Dasgupta said that the “Dilwale actor” has created a brand for himself—one that his fans are passionate, and emotional, about.
“They don’t necessarily react to the content he offers through his films; they react directly to Shah Rukh Khan,” she said. “It is important for them to see Shah Rukh Khan on top. This is what keeps the actor bankable.”
[Photo Source: Facebook/Koral Dasgupta]
Moving away from the concept of marketing and inspired by her own artistic interest, Dasgupta’s second book, “Fall Winter Collections,” is a work of fiction that tells of the romantic journey of a sculptor.
“I wanted to be an artist myself but couldn’t because of certain health issues,” she confessed. “But I am an amateur painter and have always stayed in touch with artists from various disciplines of visual and performing arts. I paint because I find it very therapeutic, and staying connected to artists gives me inspiration and allows me to weave a world around me which I believe I belong to. I also love to taking a peek into the lives of artists to find out the origin of their creativity.”
According to Dasgupta, completing “Fall Winter Collections” gave her spiritual pleasure, and fulfilled her desire to write about the role of women as inspirations for art. Exploring the fictional journey of an artist, including understanding his pains, pleasure, work, his prejudices, and the limitations he overcomes, came naturally to her. The book, she clarified, is not inspired by any particular person—but it does have moments that every art lover can relate to.
Writing her second book as fiction also involved more research, to ensure factual correctness. “I had to present the chapters in a way such that it [would be] interesting for the readers,” Dasgupta explained. “Being a work of fiction, ‘Fall Winter Collections’ required a different kind of creativity —and there was more freedom for me as a writer.”
As for future plans, Dasgupta said that she plans to continue writing and publishing. Out of her four story ideas, two have now been published—her other ideas deal with different disciplines of art, including one with dancers as protagonists. With these artists as central characters, she looks forward to analyzing relationships through their eyes. And, apart from these four projects, Dasgupta is open to exploring more topics that interest her.