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AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool
That’s a right swipe.

Bollywood thinks India is ready for the hook-up app Tinder

By Shelly Walia

In the new Bollywood film Happy Ending, Yudi (played by actor Saif Ali Khan) suffers from commitment phobia. He is constantly on a lookout for casual dating—and he gets plenty of opportunities.

Complementing Yudi’s character is Aanchal (portrayed by Ileana D’Cruz), a writer of romance novels, who ironically shuns serious relationships.

It is their commitment-phobic attitude that made the use of Tinder a perfect match for the movie’s promotions.

Three days before the movie’s release on Nov. 21, their profiles were created on Tinder.

Happy Ending’s marketing team decided to capitalise on Tinder’s growing popularity in India. The location-based dating app made inroads into the country a year ago, and is a big hit among legions of urban youngsters.

A spokesperson said that Tinder helped the audience in “relating with the movie’s protagonists”—even before the film released.

Bollywood is increasingly coming up with out-of-box ideas to go beyond Twitter and Facebook for film promotions. Quartz recently wrote about Bollywood stars taking a shine to another digital platform—YouTube.

How Tinder works

On Tinder, users need to sign in using their Facebook profiles. They can then enter their sex, location and age, and access potential dates within a radius they choose. Once set up, Tinder scans information of all users in their radius, and flashes pictures of potential matches on their smartphone. The user can swipe right when she or he is interested in a profile, or swipe left to indicate rejection. If the selected person is interested as well, they can chat on a separate window.

Across the globe, the dating app sees 1.3 billion swipes each day, resulting in 14 million matches.

The Tinder profiles of Yudi and Aanchal had over 100 matches in less than an hour. All conversations would end with a movie date on Nov. 21. Not any other movie, but Happy Ending.

Fans responded by sharing their chats on Twitter.

Bigger audience

The US, the UK and Brazil are among top Tinder countries, and India doesn’t feature in the top five. However, the Los Angeles-based company is aware of the growing, large and untapped urban populace in Indian cities. In 2015, India will be Tinder’s “priority,” the company’s spokesperson Rosette Pambakian told Quartz.

“We have a tailored marketing plan. We aim to spread awareness through local social influencers,” she said. At present, Delhi and Mumbai have the highest number of Tinder users in India. The company did not disclose the total number of users in the country, but the spokesperson said that the number was growing by over 1% daily.

Although Happy Ending was the first Bollywood film to take the Tinder route for promotions, it has been used by several American shows earlier to chat directly with their audience.

“Films and TV shows approach us to activate profiles. It’s generally the same concept—sometimes tweaked depending on the show’s ambition,” Pambakian said.

In January this year, American actress and comedian Mindy Kaling took to Tinder to promote her sitcomThe Mindy Project. The show then featured a Tinder-themed episode.

The Walking Dead, another TV show, partnered with Tinder to reach out to 18-25 years old viewers. USA Network was the first one to use Tinder in 2013 during the promotion of season three premiere of Suits.