In the first part of my article (follow up if you haven’t yet: http://theindianeconomist.com/movies-dissected-part-1/), I had discussed why people possibly watch movies. In this continuation, I shall answer a few questions raised when we wonder that and talk about promotion and its importance.
A question pops up in my mind. Why don’t all movies appeal to everyone? Why are a few of them blockbusters, a few average and some plunge into the depths of nadir, embedded deep within the sheaths of oblivion? That’s where the promotions come in. What we see is just seen, what we are shown is what makes the difference. Selling a comb to pretty lasses with flowing locks is business. But selling a modified, overpriced version of the same comb to a bald person, that sire, is promotion. And believe me when I say that, promotion is not as easy as it looks. It’s an act. And in today’s world of ‘sold is the stuff that is seen’ promotions play a pivotal role in stacking up some enviable decks and towers of cash and upping the ante. So how were and are promotion for movies done and what are the major differences between the promotions of the bygone era and the multiplex era, when even a day or a week can add millions of rupees into your bank account. Let’s take a ride through the nooks and crannies of Bollywood movie promotions through a rendezvous with history.
The silent era, which marked the beginning of films in India, promoted its masterpieces through advertisements in newspapers and hand painted posters. Money was spent like water (which was cheap those days and potable too) on extravagant posters that boasted or we can say yelled of a plethora of colours brighter than the brightest bird of paradise of Papua New Guinea. An artist and his swashbuckling affair with the colours marked the high point of many a legendary movie posters at that time. Movies were also publicised by hiring men to sit in some vehicle and go around from one road to another, praising the movie on a loudspeaker as if it were his own blood and sweat embedded somewhere deep within those reels.
Then came the era when standees were used. These were life sized, freestanding cardboard cutouts aimed at drawing a lot of attention towards the character. This technique relied on the sole school of thought that movies were an embodiment of the characters in it and people had a higher tendency to connect to a ‘superstar’ in the movie than the movie itself. This technique is even used to this day, the only major change being the replacement of shabbily cut out standees with graphically designed, precise, almost clone like 2-D and 3-D standees which are a brainchild of a highly specialised team of designers and artists toiling their experience off for a period of many months instead of a single artist like it used to be in the good old days.
A poster of the film. Photo Courtesy: Internet
The recent world is of the multiplex audience. Move over silver jubilees and 50 weeks continuous run of a movie. Now that I think about it, the last movie I remember to have completed the silver jubilee was ‘Kahoo Na Pyar Hai’ which ran for 25 straight weeks in Empire talkies in my town. The talkies is not there now and a gigantic mall with a 5 screen multiplex has replaced it but memories of watching movies in it when I was young still remain hidden somewhere at the back of my mind that otherwise seems to forget answers on the day of exams. Now more importance is given to word of mouth and critique. Specially people in the age group of 20-40. For instance, I wanted to go and watch John Day ( Naseeruddin Shah, Randeep Hooda) as it looked absolutely promising in the trailer but I chose to stay clear of the theatres as the reviews I rad were not encouraging to say the least. Same goes with the highly anticipated Kick Ass-2. Time has changed. People have many options of quality entertainment like YouTube, Internet, etc. People know what they like and are sure of what they want to spend their precious money on. Word of mouth is playing a more important role than ever before and one cannot just get away with making a crap movie, promoting it and not getting trashed by the critics. Though this is a fact that numbers seem to have gained prominence over quality but the fact remains that good, honest cinema doesn’t go unnoticed. If you have put you ind and soul into the movie, it’s bound to reflect and win you accolades. If directors try to keep a certain standard of the movies they make, money is sure to follow sooner or later. The market is open for innovation and originality.
In a nutshell, going by the trend of stars giving haircuts and free tickets and shaking a leg or two at almost every possible TV show, raking in the moolah in the same process, it’s safe to say that promotions play a bigger role than expected in the world of Indian cinema. That it destroys the sacred culture of movies or opens realms of possibilities is yet to be seen.
(Have questions? Need to discuss? Mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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.