The Kashmir Files: A case study from the lens of Seth Godin

“When it is empathy and compassion in the driver’s seat, you’re heading straight towards success!”

Image Reference: YouTube

The Kashmir Files continue to take the box-office by storm with a worldwide collection of Rs. 150 crore (estimation) and counting, this is what happens when the movie is marketed by the audience. This is the power of the common man. If this is not a box-office success, I don’t know what is!

Day 1: 650 screens
Day 8: 4000 screens

“Marketing is the generous act of helping others become who they seek to become. It involves creating honest stories—stories that resonate and spread.”


Seth Godin, This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See

One of the marketing geniuses of our time, Seth Godin had quoted his definition of marketing in one of his interviews as “Anything we do, that changes the culture for better. If you’re willing to take responsibility for the work you’re doing, you’re bringing something to the world then you’re a marketer.”

YouTube: London Real

This is exactly what the film director Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri has shown us all with his masterpiece movie The Kashmir Files. Bypassing the traditional film marketing techniques such as promotional events, TV ad campaigns, this movie’s marketing strength is the audience. Quoting the director, “This movie is people’s movie.”

This movie is directed by national award-winner director Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri along with award-winning actors to narrate a heart-wrenching story and uncover the truth of the Kashmiri Hindu Genocide. With a limited budget estimation of Rs. 15 crores (150M) to the box-office as of today is an estimation of $1.5M. A content-based small-budget movie is usually not expected to do so well at the box office, and we have an entire list of movies that made history, but no money!


Both Vivek Agnihotri and Seth Godin have mentioned time and again in various of their interviews how they feel the need to contribute to the society, culture is the backbone of society and reviving or bringing in a new culture that benefits the society. Modern marketing works the best when you get the consumer/audience emotionally involved with your product/film. Gone are the days of bombarding ads and if it doesn’t emotionally move you or bring tears, we are unlikely to engage with it. This movie does exactly that!

Image Reference: Jason Miller (LinkedIn Blog)

A closer look at what makes The Kashmir Files successful

Seth Godin is considered the “Godfather of Marketing” and back in 2015 he made a bold statement that “Content marketing is the only marketing left”. By this, he meant that a marketer needs to create content that his audience genuinely cares about and wants to consume. Beyond that, something that adds value to the lives of the audience being a part of the virtual interaction.

Most of the audience has taken to social media and shared their heartfelt reviews with trending hashtags of #TheKashmirFiles and #RightToJustice. Using social media to create a cultural shift and a movement across the globe is by far one of the best strategies used! If we consider ‘content’ as the content of the film, this too stands true as the content-focused films are marketing for themselves, and each person wants their near and dear ones to get the experience they just had. Word-Of-Mouth marketing is an age-old technique that works only if you’ve got substance in your product (or film)!


Industry Perspectives on The Kashmir Files and How it has Impacted Film Marketing

Both Vivek Agnihotri and Seth Godin mention the need to create something extraordinary, honest, and not something that is mediocre or boring. While in the pursuit of chasing to serve everyone, we end up serving none.

The need for a ‘Minimal viable market’ according to us, is what is the secret sauce of the grand success of this movie at the box office. The focus on creating something meaningful in the ocean of mediocrity is what sets apart the film and it shall continue to remain as a case study for many in years to come.

Listening is the foundational to good marketing, and a movie created after listening to real raw stories and handling all those in the most compassionate way is the heart and soul of this film. It may disturb and perturb many, but quoting Seth, “Everything gets easier when you walk away from the hubris of everyone. Your work is not for everyone. It’s only for those who signed up for the journey.”

Some quotable quotes from the book, that demand to be mentioned as is from Seth Godin’s “This is Marketing” in context of The Kashmir Files

“Marketers make change happen: for the smallest viable audience, and by delivering anticipated, personal, and relevant messages that people actually want to get.”
“Marketers have the empathy to know that those they seek to serve don’t want what the marketer wants, don’t believe what they believe, and don’t care about what they care about.”
“Marketing is our quest to make change on behalf of those we serve, and we do it by understanding the irrational forces that drive each of us.”
“You have no chance of changing everyone. You need to change someone. Which ones? Do they share a psychographic?”
“The relentless pursuit of mass will make you boring, because mass means average, it means the centre of the curve, it requires you to offend no-one and satisfy everyone.”
“Our calling is to make a difference. A chance to make things better for those we seek to serve…Not for your own benefit, but because of what it can produce for others.”
“Great marketing is the generous and audacious work of saying, ‘I see a better alternative; come with me."
“Marketers make change. We change people from one emotional state to another. We take people on a journey; we help them become the person they’ve dreamed of becoming, a little bit at a time.”

Somewhere, while making money and chasing success we tend to forget that, we are running any business (or a film), we need to look at it as a film of the people, by the people, and for the people.

“Wishing even greater success to The Kashmir Files team and we highly encourage all of you to go ahead and watch this movie in your nearest theatre.”


“The essence of political change is almost always cultural change, and the culture changes horizontally. Person to person. Us to us.”

― Seth Godin, This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn To See

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