April 13,2009


New Delhi: Too many movies and too little time at the Box Office? Enter the snazzy Bollywood trailer, which in anything between 30 seconds and five minutes can decide a film’s fate in its first week.

Movie promos, which at one time were no more than snippets from films chosen by the directors or editors, are not taken lightly any more by India’s Rs100-billion film industry. They are crafted by expert hands with huge amounts being pumped into them.

“Having the right trailer for a movie is very important. Those are the first pieces of a film that an audience gets hooked to and that is what helps the audience decide whether they want to go and watch a certain film or not,” National Award-winning filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar told reporters.

Nabeel Abbas, the man behind the publicity of most of Aamir Khan’s films, feels a trailer is the window to a movie.

“A trailer is a representative of the film and so it should show what the film is about. If there is something integral to the script of a film, that should be showcased instead of being concealed from the audience,” said Abbas, CEO, Epigram Advertising.

“Besides, it is very important that the pace of a movie’s trailer matches the pace of the film and it needs to be a very honest representative of what the film is about,” he added.

Filmmakers today are shelling out as much as Rs.1 million to Rs.2.5 million and hiring the services of promo experts unlike before, when the director or editor would cut it themselves.

“This trend has come up in the past three-four years,” said Amit Chandra, CEO of Trigger Happy, a Mumbai-based promo production company.

“Most directors used to cut the promos themselves, but now they prefer hiring an outsider because he or she will have a more objective approach to the film’s subject and content and be able to provide a fresh perspective through the trailer,” he added.

Chandra also observed that due to the existing neck-to-neck competition in the industry, a good trailer makes it easier for a movie buff to decide on the film that he or she must see next.

“Earlier, fewer films were made and people used to talk of a film’s success in terms of a golden or a silver jubilee. But today if a film sustains at the box office just for the first week, it means it is doing fine. So directors are willing to hire the services of an outsider to design a good campaign, including a trailer for their film.

“Earlier, if my company was getting 10-15 films a year for their publicity campaign, now we are getting 50 films and this just goes on to show how people are increasingly using outsiders to design publicity material for their films,” he said.

Shakeel Memon, an independent promo producer who has worked on the trailers of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s films - “Devdas”, “Black” and “Saawariya”, says the production of a good trailer requires the expertise of a lot of people.

“There are promo specialists who apart from editing also have the skill to tell a story through a 30-second trailer. But ultimately it is the director who plays a major part in deciding how the final look of a trailer will be as he is the captain of the ship,” he said.