Zurich, 1400 AD
Four men sat around a table. It was evident that they were men of wealth. Wealth always has a way of making itself known through the attire, the glow of the skin and the size of the waist line. But they were clearly not indulging in merriment. The expression on each of their faces was serious.
One of them, who seemed liked the leader spoke up, “So what do we do now? This is not at all good!”
Another one spoke up, “People no longer seem to have the old spirit of giving for Christmas and New Year. That too in spite of all the effort by us to encourage the spirit among them!”
“Let us not cry over spilt milk. Instead we need to focus how to dispose off all the stock we have built up. With time everything will start looking jaded and no one will buy them. Gift items have so little shelf life you know.”
“The next opportunity we shall have is Easter”
“But there is still a good two and a half months for that."
“That is too late. We need to find a way to create demand earlier than that. Is there any other celebration possible within the next ten to fifteen days?”
“Well, the only festival that comes up this month is this thing called Valentine ’s Day.”
“Ah! That is something. There might be some scope in that. It is a festival of love, isn’t’ it? Love means gifts and gifts mean sales.”
“True. But we need to put some effort. For one, we need to give this Saint Valentine an image makeover. All these saints were all setting wrong examples through poverty and charity. Not at all good for sales! We need to make him more marketable!”
All the merchants were excited by now and jumping in with ideas.
"Right! For one, he ought to be a lover himself. Some old country pastor as such will not excite young couples so much. How can a celibate be the icon of love? So we need to tweak the story a bit and create a story of romance between the saint and his jailer’s daughter.”
“To make it more heart wrenching, let us make the girl blind. People like some tragedy in romance! “
“How the couples will lap it up! Now let me add a final touch. Let us also popularize a sentimental letter purportedly written by Saint Valentine to his lady love.”
They went about creating the plan of campaign. It turned out a grand success. The public just loved it. Especially the letter ending ‘from your Valentine’ was a super hit. Everyone was using the lines along with the gifts. The merchants managed to sell out all their stocks that year and the following year the sales were even more. It had indeed been a commercial master stroke.
Mumbai, 2000 AD
Two men reclined on the deck chair outside a swimming pool of a plush five star hotel. They were sipping a glass of single Malt whiskey as they puffed away at the Davidoff cigarettes.
“Audience turnout in movies are dipping these days. Our revenue figures are not looking great. You guys need to produce something new.”
“Sir, people love all the action and fights. Just walk into a theater in a small town and listen to the whistles and cheering.”
“They will love it indeed! But they are not the ones who hold the purse strings. The world has changed, my friend. Today we have the new suave globalized urban middle class who holds the purse strings. Your angry young man fighting against corruption holds no appeal to him.”
“I know just the thing for them, Sir. Let us go back to the time tested recipe of love. Our people always love romance so much.“
“Makes sense! But do not again go back to those clichéd Holi songs and all that. They have outlived their time. Also they have a rustic feel that won’t go well with the modern urban folks. Think of something more urban and global.”
The director now became thoughtful. He had been thinking of just rehashing the old romances of the 80’s and dishing them out. But the producer was too shrewd. He was not going to take that. He had to come up with something new. Then suddenly his face brightened.
“Last time I was in Europe, they were having this celebration called Valentine’s Day. It is a really big thing out there. Maybe we should get that into our movies. That will resonate well with the audience at the new multiplexes!”
“Ah! Now you are talking. Also shoot the movie in some cool foreign location. Don’t care about the expenses. I will take care. It will appeal to global Indians and bring back every penny we spend. Also the local middle class aspires to be there. That is what they will like to see. Isn't that what India shining all about? Do not show them all the local dirt and grime. That will only make them depressed. No one is going to pay to make them depressed.”
And that was how Valentine’s Day finally arrived in India. Click here to read the earlier part of this story, the earlier 1200 years of Valentine's Day.
Picture Credit: http://valentines.tipnut.com/