September 16th, 2006
On Thursday afternoon, the entrance of the most enchanting store in London was packed by hundreds of Indians and the English press awaiting an event packed with Bollywood glitz and glamour. The event, to celebrate the launch of Bollywood Legends Dolls, saw hundreds of fans gather outside the doors of Harrods to greet their favourite Bollywood stars: Hrithik Roshan and Kajol, under the eyes of curious tourists and Londoners.
Hrithik Roshan and Kajol had flown into London especially to unveil the first ever dolls inspired by Bollywood actors. These two dolls along with two others inspired by Shah Rukh Khan – the King of Bollywood and Priyanka Chopra – former Miss World, were created by Kenyan born Indian Shameen Jivraj, a female entrepreneur, former BBC Teletubbies manager.
Outside the entrance 5 of Harrods, eager fans saw their all time favourite stars arrive in a true fairy tale manner – also in a manner in which other stars like Cher and Madonna made their entrances – in a horse drawn carriage. The stars were greeted with a traditional floral garland, presented by two fans that had won the opportunity in a competition and received personally autographed dolls from the two Bollywood Legends. Kajol was dressed in a beautiful yellow sari and Hrithik was his usual self, classy, cool but casual.
After meeting and greeting the fans outside, the stars were escorted to Harrods’ Toy Kingdom by the Traditional Harrods Bagpipers. The Toy Kingdom had been transformed into an Indian royal court for the occasion. An elevated atmosphere swept through the Toy Kingdom despite the heat, the crazy fans that could not be controlled by the security agents. Those who bought the dolls were allowed to approach the stars and speak to them briefly. Children and their parents came back from the created stage walking on air and ecstatic with their dolls in their arms.
As the crowd quieted down, Hrithik and Kajol gave a “Thank you” speech.
Kajol said “What can I say? Thank you and thank you, for being here and your warm welcome.”
Hrithik was more talkative and even answered some questions.
What do you think of the dolls?
“I think they are very good. I was pleasantly surprised by the effort. Kajol’s doll is very pretty. It’s not easy to do justice to her face.”
How about the fact that they left out your second thumb?
“If they had left it, it would not have been cost effective. I will let that go this time.”
What was you feeling when you were first approached?
“I was in disbelief! I thought it was a joke and a very distant idea! Shameen has worked hard and she succeeded in bringing this idea to life. It’s all her doing and it is all her effort”.
After signing the dolls the stars walked off to their lunch and prepared for the press conference.
The Indian community in England is massive and very well established. It is Bollywood’s second largest audience. Movies have been shown in cinemas in this country since the 1960s and they are released at the same time as in Bombay and the stars are always in London.
These dolls were launched in India, Singapore, Indonesia, Middle East – mainly Dubai – South Africa and this week in London. These countries also have high spenders. These markets have buyers and consumers that demand and encourage widespread merchandising of products like these dolls. After all in England for example, people can spend £100,000 on what is one of their favourite hobbies: football…
Some question the fact that maybe this was taking Bollywood dreams too far with the creation and launch of these dolls. From a marketing point of view it is a great idea and making people buy the doll to catch a glimpse or have a 5-minute talk with the star clearly boosted sales on that afternoon. The shop assistants even compared it to the launch of Star Wars toys. In a way, the industry is doing like its peers in Hollywood.
This is true, in a way it is taking your Bollywood star home, after all cinema sells dreams…However, some argued that for £25 for a 30cm doll, however beautiful it looks doesn’t the dream come with a er..hefty price??? But then, others retorted you don’t count when you love and…as Hrithik said: “It’s great to be able to connect with a dream. These dolls are a tangible aspect of that dream you can take. I know of the joy it could spread, I had the same feeling when I was a little boy with my action heroes. I feel that what I have done has reached its goal and that my work serves a cause.”