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Tease Me, Tease Me

‘Six stories. One ending’.‘You are not alone’.‘He has arrived in a city where everybody wants him dead!’ Line...

June 1, 2003

‘Six stories. One ending’.
‘You are not alone’.
‘He has arrived in a city where everybody wants him dead!’

Lines you are more likely to associate with paperback thrillers than Hindi films. But Bollywood’s new releases, which so far relied heavily on song-and-dance publicity sequences, are now using teasers to attract viewers. So the promos of Ramgopal Varma’s Darna Mana Hai are sans its multi-star cast and the ‘Six stories…’ tagline ran for a few days before the one with Vivek Oberoi, Aftab Shivdasani, Shilpa Shetty and others was released.

The initial promos of Rakesh Roshan’s Koi… Mil Gaya also showed Hrithik Roshan briefly, followed by a view of the earth from space and the ‘You are not alone’ catchline. It was only later that Hrithik, Preity Zinta and Rekha, and the title song, were shown.

‘‘Teasers are 10-15 seconds long, and aired for around a week before being replaced with a detailed promo,’’ says Suleman Mobhani of Indiafm, a film publicity company. ‘‘They work well for thrillers and suspense films, where the idea is big,’’ adds Sanjay Bhutiani, head of Leo Entertainment. Bhutiani, who has created campaigns for Darna… and Jism, insists that a teaser is different from a build-up promo. ‘‘The former has to really tease people. The initial promos of Darna… didn’t even reveal the cast or crew,’’ he says. Instead, you saw images of a palm with five fingers and a thumb, a blown-out candle with six wicks, a clock with six hands and a lock with six keyholes.

‘‘The trick is to get you intrigued,’’ says Dhritish Ghoshal of ad agency Marching Ants. Agrees Soumitra Ranade, the director of Jajantaram Mamantaram (J2M2). ‘‘You can’t give away your aces. But it’s important to stand out among the crowd,’’ he says. J2M2 was initially publicised through 10-second TV spots, which just showed some special effects. ‘‘They were so brief that viewers were left asking for more. After a week, we extended the duration to 20 seconds and then to 30 seconds in the third week. Extremely short promos aired for a long time may get irritating,’’ adds Ranade.

Film-makers are now more concerned about how promos showcase their films. Varma, the producer of Darna… and director of Bhoot — also promoted through slick horror trailers — is one of them. ‘‘The promos should impress and excite you, but at the same time, they should not lie about the film,’’ he says, adding, ‘‘With Darna… , people will wonder how six stories can have one ending. With the Bhoot promos, I wanted to prepare viewers for the film.’’

Moviemakers are also more willing to shift away from the earlier practice of plastering the stars’ faces all over. Like the promos of the Anil Kapoor, Rani Mukherjee-starrer Calcutta Mail. The slick, sepia-toned TV spots showed a fleeting shot of Kapoor, followed by a speeding train and the ‘He has arrived…’ tagline. Mobhani also mentions Kucch To Hai, starring Tusshar Kapoor and Esha Deol, released early this year. ‘This winter… a chill will run down your spine,’ said the initial promos, which just showed the actors’ backs.

However, the song-dance promos will continue. ‘‘Music companies are closely involved in promoting films. So they want the music to be highlighted,’’ says Namit Malhotra of production house Prime Focus, which was involved in creating promos of films like Koi… Mil Gaya, Qayamat, and Khushi. Bhutiani disagrees: ‘‘Music revenues have fallen. You’ll see more content-driven promotion now.’’ Anything to make the viewer content.

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