For decades, a trailer has been the most effective promotion tool to announce an upcoming movie and draw crowds. It packs a series of carefully culled scenes that offer a feel of the movie, sets its tone and treatment. With nearly three weeks to go for Manoj Bajpayee’s Aligarh — the movie is based on the real life incident of a university professor who was suspended from his job because of his sexual orientation — it is understandable why its director Hansal Mehta is upset over its two trailers, meant to shown in theatres, getting an ‘A’ certificate. (Read: Manoj Bajpayee starrer ‘Aligarh’s trailer hits 3 million mark)
A movie like Aligarh, made with a modest budget, relies heavily on trailers for its promotion. Trailers enjoy the widest reach compared to other publicity material and exercises. And, those made for theatrical viewing, communicate with the movie’s prime target group who are already gathered in a theatre to watch a movie. With the film’s release scheduled for February 26, the certification comes as blow to the promotional plans. Following this, Eros Entertainment, the film’s producer, has applied for a revision. (Also read: Aligarh controversy cheap publicity stunt by Hansal Mehta, says Censor chief Pahlaj Nihalani)
Now, because of the ‘A’ certificate, the trailers can be shown only with films which have the same certificate. This, Mehta believes, would limit the reach of Aligarh’s trailers — which are played before a movie begins and during the interval. “We were part of a Barkha Dutt show on NDTV recently. But we could not feature the trailer during the show since ‘A’ certificate forbids its telecast in a prime time slot,” says Mehta.
For an independent filmmaker like him, getting some free airspace would have been a major help, the director adds. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chairperson, Pahlaj Nihalani, earlier said that the trailers were given ‘A’ certificate keeping in mind “the film’s content”.
According to Mehta, the trailers and the movie should be treated separately. “Even in my wildest imagination, I had not thought that the trailers would get an adult certificate.” The movie has got ‘A’ certificate with a visual and verbal cut. Since the movie was given an adult
certificate, Mehta was hoping that the CBFC wouldn’t insist on the cuts.
The process of certifying a trailer is same as that of a film. In the case of films, there are four members of the Board present with an officer. However, while certifying a trailer, only one member and one officer attend the screening.
The television promos of Aligarh — which will be shorter compared to the theatrical ones — too will be going through the certification process soon. The production team hopes they will be on air at least a fortnight ahead of the movie’s release. The marketing section of Eros Entertainment had applied to the CBFC with these two theatrical trailers in the third week of January. Due to the long Republic Day weekend, the certificate came on January 28.
“I have chosen this path of telling the untold stories of India. It is important that the younger generation watches Aligarh,” says Mehta, who directed National Award-winning Shahid and believes that the tendency to push the issues related to sexuality under the carpet should be curbed.