One can still hear sighs emerging out of Rajshree, the production house that made Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, over the notional loss of revenue for not coming out with an authorised line of Madhuri Dikshit's dresses, which dotted the flea markets after the mega hit.
While Bollywood stars have often influenced barbers, Dikshit's outfits influenced tailors far and wide without earning a single rupee for Rajshree since at that time merchandising was yet to be looked upon as a source of revenue.
Not any more. Film makers have realised that clothing can be a lucrative revenue stream and expect it to become worth Rs 150 crore by next year. At present, the total merchandising industry is worth Rs 300 crore, but 90 per cent of it goes to television and films get only a measly 10 per cent.
Consequently, designers, always an integral part of the film-making team, have begun to come in at the earliest possible stage: while the film is still being conceptualised.
Om Shanti Om, which will hit theatres on Friday, and others in the pipeline such as Welcome and Race have done it already. Harry Baweja's Love Story 2050 is said to be in talks with jeans brand Killer to introduce a denim clothing line based on the film.
"Bollywood clothing has always caught people's fancy, which the unorganised sector has cashed in on. A legitimate clothing line can be a source of revenue. We therefore brought in designers right from the conceptualisation of the film," said Farah Khan, director of Om Shanti Om.
The film's producer, Red Chillies Entertainment, has tied up with retail chain Shoppers' Stop to unveil apparel on the look of the actors. The store expects to earn over Rs 8 crore from the limited edition.
Unlike Hollywood, where 15-35 per cent of a film's revenues comes from merchandising (accessories, clothing), Bollywood merchandising contributes barely 2 per cent of a film's income. But things have begun to change with Hrithik Roshan-starrer Krrish, animated movie Hanuman, Om Shanti Om and Saawariya.
However, not all films can tap this revenue stream. For production companies to monetise apparel, the clothing line has to be wearable for the masses.
"Given the story line of Saawariya, we knew that only the hero's clothes could be saleable to the masses. Therefore, we unveiled men's apparel based on his style in the film," said Uday Singh, managing director of Sony Pictures, which has produced the film.
So what's in it for retailers and brands?
"Film production houses giving merchandising rights to brands or selling the clothing line in association with a large format retailer is a big opportunity for stores. Film clothing sells three times faster than any other line," said Sanjay Bindra, executive director, Biba Apparels.
The clothing brand has worked on Devdas, Baghban, Hero and others. Film merchandising rights come to a retail store for a minimum guarantee and royalty.
While the minimum guarantee can range between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore, the production company earns another 6-8 per cent of the turnover as royalty. As in everything, the price is crucial.
"The pricing of film-based apparel is crucial. For Om Shanti Om, the pricing has been done with the aim to make it affordable for the masses," said Govind Shrikhande of Shoppers' Stop.