Marketing a Bollywood movie is now a full-fledged industry by itself. Huge budgets are set aside for movie promotions, with superstars taking train journeys, international actors doing the lungi dance and actors agreeing to click thousands of selfies with ‘dog filters’ to look cute and approachable to the audience.
Sometime ago, comedy collective All India Bakchod had made a spoof on the various strategies media agencies are now making for their movie to get visibility. It was so spot on. There’s a ‘first look’, then the ‘first poster’, then the ‘first motion poster’, then a ‘teaser’, a ‘teaser trailer’, a ‘trailer’, a ‘second trailer’, a ‘special song’ (which is usually not a part of the movie), a ‘mash-up of all the songs’ and finally, the movie.
Now if you read closely there are at least 9 ‘events’ that are now mandatory before a film releases. Hashtags are created, hotel banquets or screening rooms are booked, snacks are decided, and the media is invited. Apart from traditional journalists, there are people with ‘social media presence’ who are called to make the launch ‘trend’.
Being a Bollywood journalist, my life is about attending these events and well, having fun. This week hasn’t even ended and I’ve already been to two trailer launches.
The first was for Govinda’s comeback movie, Aa Gaya Hero. Strangely the trailer of this film has been out for a month on YouTube. We were told Govinda’s leading ladies through the years would be at the event. Now anyone who has watched Bollywood films in the 90s would immediately assume they meant Karisma Kapoor and Raveena Tandon. So imagine my surprise when I saw that the one leading lady who was on time was Manisha Koirala. Do you even remember any movies they’ve done together? I didn’t. After Googling, I found they had done 3 together between 1997-98- Achanak, Loha and Maharaja.
Later Shilpa Shetty joined in too. That gave some meat for journalists and photographers to chew on. But all in all, it was an uneventful launch of a cringeworthy trailer.
A day later, I went for the cooler Badrinath Ki Dulhania trailer launch which had Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and Karan Johar, along with the movie’s director, Shashank Khaitan. Varun and Alia entered the theater on a bike and danced on a song from the film. There were background dancers, lights and a lot of people who couldn’t stop applauding and whistling.
In K3G terminology, this event was definitely very ‘Raichand’ while Govinda’s was more like the ‘Sharma’s of Chandni Chowk’. Badrinath Ki Dulhania is based in the heartlands of India (which a gentleman from the production company oddly referred to as ‘putting a finger on the belly button of India’). We even got a little hamper which comprised a giant laddoo, a CD and a badge that had ‘Badriwale’ embezzled on it.
The contrast was rather evident, but there are some things that never change during these events. Be it a big-budget Bollywood movie or a B-grade relaunch of a faded superstar, here are the 10 things that almost ALWAYS happen at a Bollywood trailer launch!
1. People, lots and lots of people.
Journalists, camerapersons, above mentioned people with social media presence, fanclubs of the stars, fanclubs of the singers, fanclubs of the director, the people involved in the movie, the families of people involved in the film, they’re all there. My personal favourites are a group of female journalists who always sit together. They save the best seats for their friends, they’re already aware if the food (at the event) is worth eating and most importantly, if the movie is worth watching.
I vividly remember how one of the ladies ripped poor Sooraj Pancholi apart at the trailer launch of his debut movie Hero. Salman Khan had come, everyone spoke about the kind heartedness of Bhai who is sweet enough to launch two newcomers in a big budget film (not acknowledging the fact that the debutants are children of his close friends, who have been a part of Bollywood since ages). The trailer was shown for the first time and of course, everyone clapped like it was the best movie to come out of the industry. But the women behind me were not impressed. One of them declared “Picture flop hai, Sooraj bahut zyada gora hai”
“The film will be a flop, Sooraj Pancholi is too fair”. Who knew being light skinned in a country obsessed with fairness would be a hindrance eh? She was right though, the film did flop.
The invite says 4.30, people come by 5, the stars make their gracious entry at 7 and I always lose my good seat in the front because of my weak bladder, the unpunctuality of our actors and because I don’t have friends in the media who’d ‘save’ my seat. During the trailer launch of Dilwale, this poor journalist from Economic Times had to attend the event because the publication wanted to write about the new PVR. Never having been to a Bollywood event before, she left her bag on her seat to save her place and visit the loo. The bag was duly passed around to other seats as seasoned reporters sat in the front rows. After returning, she found out that her placeholder (that little bag) had been kept on a seat in the farthest corner of the theatre. It’s a tough life out there.
3. ‘This is a very different movie’
Is said thrice by every actor who is important enough to be invited on stage. After a point you start believing that this trailer will change your life. Some actors are so convincing; you’d even join a cult at that moment if they ask you to. To give due credit, Emraan Hashmi said that about Mr. X too. And that movie was pretty different (however bad it was).
4. The trailer is finally shown. Twice.
Don’t understand why. The trailer is not going to become better in the second viewing, but it’s shown and the applause is expected to be thunderous. At both times. It hurts most when the trailer is of Action Jackson and Sonakshi Sinha is talking about Ajay Devgn’s privates (in the movie only).
5. The actors are called in for questioning
It really looks like that. The stars sit on the podium, say funny things, their quotes are live tweeted, insta-storied, snapchatted and soon all over the interwebz. If the actors in question are dating, then gestures, eye-contact and everything they say about each other is plastered all over social media and carried by entertainment websites within minutes. Mostly accompanied by the hashtag – #RelationshipGoals. Case in point, Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, during the promotions of Bajirao Mastani.
Stuff like that sometimes extends to fanfiction as well (more on THAT later).
6. There’s one journalist who just wants to watch the world burn
The reporter will ask an inappropriate or uncomfortable question, the actor in question will either laugh it off, give a curt reply or not acknowledge the person and ask for the next question. This ‘reaction’ will then be turned into a video with titles like ‘SHOCKING! XYZ ACTOR LOSES TEMPER AT MEDIA’.
After the trailer has been showed twice, applause has been given, questions have been asked and reactions have been recorded, some courageous fans, journalists and the actors themselves, decide to capture the chaos with their good looking selfies.
8. Sometimes there’s food, if you’re blessed, there’s wine!
The presence of wine, somehow makes it all bearable. The crowd, the ‘not changing my world in anyway’ trailer, the hours spent on waiting to watch the goddamn trailer… all of that becomes okay. Ask me, the only reason I was smiling after watching Rock On 2’s trailer twice was because Excel Entertainment was sweet enough to serve us some wine.
9. You file your story about the event
Some pictures are put, some quotes are written, a story is made. The headline is usually about the things the actor said, instead of the movie trailer because who cares about a trailer when Ranbir Kapoor has just called Aishwarya Rai hot. That’s the important part. Always.
10. You’re invited for the ‘song launch’
The trailer launch was just the start, over the course of the month, you will also be invited to at least 3 song launches from the movie. All of them will definitely be the ‘best *insert dance/romantic/sad* song of the year’.
And despite all this madness, you go, just to hear what that group of ladies have to say about it all.
P.S.: The songs are shown twice too.