After reading an article on people’s tendency to watch movies and a prolonged stimulated discussion on movie promotion over the course of Bollywood, in one of my classes, I was taken, for a brief period of time, somewhere about which I thought even my sub-conscious had forgotten. It was the summer when I was in class 4th and had gone to my grandmother’s place for vacations. I recall a coarse voice blaring from loudspeakers. ‘Mahaan, samajik, dharmik, maar-peet se bharpoor, aikshon, romans se bhari film dekhne Delight theatre zaroor aaiye’ (Do come to Delight theatre to watch great, social, religious, movie, full of action and romance). When I stepped outside, I found a man in a rickshaw, with speakers challenging my own height stacked side by side in a haphazard manner. The man’s feet were entangled in a cobweb of multi-colored wires running out of nowhere to somewhere. What he was doing was quite intriguing. He was actually promoting a recently released Sunny Deol film and I fell for the movie by the way he was promoting it. This little nostalgic brush made me think about two things: first, why do people watch movies? And the other: why do promotions matter and how can they affect movies in a wider context?
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The question is very fundamental: what is there in movies? The typical Bollywood films are full of masala. What they show is fake and imaginary, a product of the story writer’s vivid and, in most cases, exuberantly fantastical imagination. Still, multitudes of people flock to the theatres all across the nation like a business of ferrets, every Friday when some or the other star graces the silver screen with his divine presence, to get their chunk of their Indian pie. They push; they fight and brave the scorching sun, spine chilling cold and the ever-forgiving rain. Just to get a couple of tickets for themselves and their partner in the couple. At times, I fail to register what makes them go through this litmus test for something which is but a mere figment of imagination of someone else’s mind, probably conjured up during mosquito populated night of his years of struggle. I wonder if it’s the glam quotient of movies, which reminds them of the colorless, moribund lives they are leading.
Or is it possible that a common man uses them as a distraction, an escapade from the recurring harsh realities of his daily life and a foray into the labyrinth of movies acts as a detour to unsettle the grim grey clouds of predictability overshadowing his life? The endlessly expanding and ever-changing realm of stories having fictional characters sometimes engulfs even the most stable of minds. Similarly, the harsh, dream-shattering reality of the basic lives that the characters live on the silver screen when taken as a case of study and portrayed convincingly gives them something to identify themselves with. Maybe that’s why people are attracted towards movies like a moth to a flame. Visually lush frames of a random movie act like a magnet that pulls everyone in its direction. Young or old, literate or illiterate, rich or poor – the language of films is same for all and everyone watches the same films. Movies are a piece of fiction created by one who is similar to us and is therefore, able to gauge human desires and fantasies. They provide us what we secretly yearn for. For the duration of three hours when the movie is playing, we are enthralled and carried far away into the world of our dreams. A world that exists beyond mere mortal boundaries and reach of
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an average mind cluttered with day-to-day problems. We become the character on the screen and for those sweet three hours, we are that most confident and powerful person who is capable of overcoming all the obstacles that life greets him with. Movies have endless possibilities. At times they inspire us, seldom do they challenge us and more than often, they make us feel unsatisfied with life. However, if that is the price one has to pay for living life king-size or at least feeling like it, it is worth it or so they say.
All said and done, the bottom line is, people watch movies. Big deal. But there are some people who eat, drink, breathe and feel movies. They are in a league of their own. They LIVE movies. Suck a breed of movie-sapiens is forever looking for an option to curb their insatiable hunger for quality cinema, irrespective of publicity. And as long as people like this will exist, there will be a whole new brigade of film people who are ready to carry the baton forward and produce, direct, or write good, satisfying cinema. Even in a world of YouTube hits and teasers and second teasers and more teasers, character trailers, viral marketing, online petition and campaigns, controversies, etc., cinema exists. It had, it does and it will. Always. For what is imagination in shackles of capital? Money can buy everything, of late it’s believed it can even buy happiness but one think it can never dream of having an upper hand over is ART. For art is but immortal.
(In part 2 of the same article I will talk about promotion, it’s brief history, current necessity and general trends in movie promotions. So stay tuned.)
Born, brought up and coached to be an engineer, he changed stream after negotiating with machines for two years. Unsuccessfully. Now balancing his love for movies,literature,cricket,football and poems with his sociophobic (conditions apply), misanthropic thoughts. ‘Enjoying’ college at SOC Manipal. Finally. An aspiring director/novelist/poet/actor/critic/model/Wolverine, who draws satanic pleasure in dissecting movies and pretending to be an expert at them and a million other arts he juggles. But when it counts, a poet and a die-hard romantic at heart. Can scribble about anything the planet knows/is oblivious of.