Advance release dates, flashy trailers, promotional songs — Bollywood film-makers try every trick in the book to grab eyeballs before their movies are released. However, there’s now a new hype strategy on the block: well-produced, minute-long teasers are being released before traditional trailers, and they’re often announced with a lot of fanfare — all to get the buzz going.
Does it work? Well, the teaser for Zero, directed by Aanand L Rai, recorded 10 million views within a day, mostly because it featured two of the biggest stars we have: Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan dance with wild abandon in the short clip. Before that, there was the teaser for actor Sanjay Dutt’s biopic: the footage for this teaser was specially shot by the makers, who ditched the traditional montage-of-film-scenes formula. Aayush Sharma’s debut film, Loveratri, and Akshay Kumar-starrer, Gold, also followed similar strategies.
Trade expert Atul Mohan says that the importance of a good teaser has risen over the past few years. “Thanks to changing times and social media, film-makers have to think out of the box. Also, since films are announced as early as two years before they’re released, the audience needs to be kept excited,” he says.
One might think that a teaser would be easy to make since it’s just a minute long on average, but it turns out that the process is quite difficult for that very reason. Film-makers today hire agencies that specialise in creating trailers and teasers. Chinni Nihalani, whose production house has created teasers for Sachin: A Billion Dreams (2017) and Arjun Rampal-starrer, Daddy (2017), explains how a teaser comes together: “We first watch the film or read the script. It depends if the film has a lot of content. Sometimes, there’s isn’t the need for a teaser; it’s counter-productive. We created the trailer and songs for Veere Di Wedding. It was fresh. One could have said ‘Let’s put out a teaser for this’, but there was a chance that it could backfire.”
Reema Kagti’s upcoming directorial, Gold, had a very innovative teaser: it asked theatre-goers to stand up for the national anthem without mentioning that it was not the Indian anthem. As a result, the eventual surprise at the revelation helps the film stay in viewers’ minds. “Yes, teasers are very important. Teasers and trailers go a long way in influencing the audience, but eventually, the film will have to perform for it to be a hit,” says Kagti.
One might ask that with so much happening before the release — posters, motion posters, teasers, trailers, then promos on television — don’t films end up getting overexposed? Nihalani feels they do: “Yes, the less you show, the better.” However, trade expert Komal Nahta doesn’t agree. “No, that’s the norm now. I don’t think we can say that films get ‘overexposed’,” he says.
Zero’s director Aanand says, “I think you need a teaser only when you are dealing with a new subject, since you have to introduce something new to the viewers. I don’t think it works for every film. Every director, when he makes a film, feels that he is bringing something new to the table. For Zero’s teaser, I knew I was presenting a new character with a different shape and size. This was my way of shaking hands with my audiences, and saying, ‘This is where we are coming from; accept him’.”
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