Southern Lights: Saamy vs. Dhruva Natchatiram, Film Companion

When the Saamy 2 (or Saamy Square) trailer landed on Sunday, it made me so mad that I did something I don’t usually do. I put out a trollish tweet. Everyone knows that rage and Twitter are about as good a combination as rum and lemon soda – so after the moment passed, I felt a little foolish about the tweet. But the contempt for the utter cliché of a trailer stands. The hero’s foot lands and kicks up dust. A flash of the IPS shoulder badge. Images that look as though random bits of the film were being spit out by a tennis ball launcher. Tired punches. Punch dialogues that sound even more tired.  Heroine entry. Comedian entry. Heroine gets slapped. Camels. Cars. Camels chasing cars. Or maybe, cars chasing camels. The camera making circles around cars and camels. And in the midst of it all, Vikram.

Every actor is allowed his share of bombs. After all, no one can predict how a film will shape up. But with Vikram, post Deiva Thirumagal (and with the exception of David, where he had a smallish role), it’s been a series of underwhelmers: Rajapattai, Thaandavam, I, 10 Endrathukulla, Iru Mugan, Sketch. I guess we wouldn’t fret so much if this had been another actor, but when someone with such talent and presence – and so much willingness to immerse himself in a role, even in the bad films – wastes his energies on something like this, it makes the blood simmer. And the fact that I didn’t get trolled all that much for my tweet suggested that others were equally unimpressed by the trailer.

One question that came up as a response to my tweet is a valid one: How can you predict the quality of a movie by the quality of the trailer? Yes, I agree – theoretically – that a bad trailer can lead to a good movie. But the chances are slim. The trailer is usually one of the first pieces of moving images from the film (as opposed to stills) – and any filmmaker worth his salt will try to wow you with this first look. This is the part where the filmmaker says, “Look, this is what I have in store for you,” and if he really cares, he will try and put together a super-impressive trailer. In fact, there are more chances that the trailer will turn out better than the movie.

The Saamy 2 trailer suggests nothing but contempt for the audience, as though the filmmaker were saying, “Even if I give you crap, you’re going to lap it up, so why bother?” That’s what got me so worked up. Now look at the Dhruva Natchatiram trailer. It’s similar in many ways to the Saamy 2 trailer – because it’s action-packed, too. But, it’s also very different. There’s a rhythm to it – it’s cut to a machine-gun beat. There’s some style, some sensibility, an indication that the texture of the film has been thought over, that there is a visual palette, that this has been assembled by a team that cares about cinema. There’s no guarantee that the film will be good, but at least the trailer makes you say, “Let’s see what lies ahead.” More importantly, it looks like a film you want to see Vikram in. That’s all one cares about, really.


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