Sunday, July 19, 2009

The curious case of Rajshri and Incredible India

Ever since I moved to Singapore, I found that rajshri.com is a fantastic source of good Indian content legally available. The site is owned by the Rajshri group, the reputed Indian media house, which gave us hits like Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and Maine Pyaar Kiya. The site doesn't have anything cutting edge (new movies etc), but still has a lot of good older movies and lots of TV series content. Its quite appealing and while the user experience is not excellent, the streaming is pretty good. All in all, a good site to visit on a regular basis.

There are a bunch of technical problems - don't ever try going back or forward in the video, you will be stuck forever; or every once in a while, the streaming itself will completely freeze (and if it happens towards the end of a movie, you will miss the ending since the rewind and FF doesn't work), but this blog is about something else that I find grossly wrong about that site.

I understand that the site has to make money (at least for the cost of hosting and serving the content) and ads seem the best way. Being an Non Resident Indian (NRI), some of the ads presented to me makes sense - like those of banks advertising NRI products. But the most common ad you see on the site is that of Incredible India.

Right, I understand that the Incredible India ads should be served outside of India, but do you really want it to be shown to NRIs? NRIs, by themselves, have enough reasons (family bonds) to visit India every once in a while and if they don't want to visit India for that reason, I doubt they want to do it on the insistent claim of the Indian Ministry of Tourism.

The only reason it makes sense is if the content was seen by Foreigners - the Singaporeans, Malaysians and the like, who might actually make good tourists. But will they be visiting rajshri.com and checking out Hindi TV Series, or Mahabharat, or Hum Aapke Hain Kaun? I very much doubt so. I am yet to hear of a single Singaporean who sees any Indian Content. I have heard of the Bollywood craze in Malaysia and Thailand, but here in Singapore, there is no craze.

I am guessing that either the Incredible India guys have got it all wrong when they decided to serve ads on that site, or it is a case of collusion between an Indian Govt organization and a private one to move money in a particular direction (and you know which one I am talking about). I quite often imagine a guy from the Indian Ministry of Tourism (which runs the Incredible India campaign) receiving a neat kickback in exchange for channeling the Government's (in turn tax payers') money to run rajshri.com's bill and potentially give them a healthy profit to boot.

Whatever the reason, I don't like the idea of two organizations of high repute getting it either wrong or voluntarily doing it wrong.

ps: This blog is based on ads seen here in Singapore and the experience of visitors from some other region might be quite different.

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