At the movies, my growing up years were the 90s. From Maine Pyar Kiya to Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was the period when my Bollywood fascination was at its peak. Watching a film upto 5-6 times in a theatre was not unusual. Some entered double figures too.
The build-up to a film before its release was radically different from what it is today. Not too many young people can imagine this, but I’ll still try. The only sources available for new films related information were newspapers and a handful of general entertainment channels that aired trailers in defined slots about twice a day. There were no tabloids, no music channels, no reality shows, no RJs, no Twitter, no Facebook, no YouTube.
The result? You went to watch a film with a fair amount of intrigue. You knew only so much, and the rest was for you to find once the lights went off and the film started rolling.
Today, you have to deal with information overload. You may not watch music channels, but Twitter will tell you all the goss about the film and its promos. You may not be on Twitter, but Mumbai Mirror or Delhi Times will throw paid and unpaid stories in your face. You may not even read the papers, but popular reality shows on GECs will ensure there is no escaping the “buzz”.
This overexposure certainly kills the old world charm of a big film release. I wanted to check out if this was only my feeling. So we collected some data to understand the hypothesis better. The table below captures the total duration of unique video footage that was exposed for six different movies, before the release. This could be through Internet, television or any other audio-visual medium. If a shot is used in three different promos, it has been counted only once, as we are reporting “unique” footage here.
All numbers are in seconds.
|Film||Song footage||Dialogue footage||Action/ moments footage||Total unique footage|
Let’s jump straight into some observations:
1. The footage exposure has increased almost four-fold, from about 3-4 mins to 10-16 mins.
2. Media data will tell us that the frequency of exposure has gone up ten-fold. So the real impact of creative and media put together could be as high as 40-fold!
3. Hum Aapke Hain Koun and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge did not reveal even one dialogue from the film before its release.
4. You have enough footage in the four 2011 films promotions to construct the entire story, and eventually visit the theatre to essentially fill in the blanks. For HAHK and DDLJ, the story was unknown. At best, the genre and the premise were known.
So, what do these reveal-all campaigns achieve? Opening weekends? Are we saying that if the DDLJ campaign played out today, the film would not have got a record opening? Then why the eagerness to put more material out, and spend a lot more money promoting it so aggressively?
There are no easy answers. Someone needs to try out the good old formula and make it work in the new context. And then, we can expect everyone to follow suit!
Till then, I’ll miss watching films the good old way. With the intrigue intact.