Aditya Chopra’s ‘No-Preview Policy’
This week sees the release of Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, a Yash Raj Films’ film. You know, something very typical about YRF is that they never show their films to the press till the day of release.
Yash Chopra used to show all his films to the press but that lasted till Aditya Chopra came on the scene. Aditya’s thoughts seem to be radically different from those of his father, Yash Chopra’s, when it comes to this issue, at least. Not only did Aditya not hold press shows of his films but he also stopped his dad from organising them. It may be mentioned here that Yash Chopra was otherwise very fond of the media and even shared a close relationship with almost all the media persons. The scene now is that YRF doesn’t hold the customary press shows for any of its films.
What Happens Elsewhere…
To understand better, it would be appropriate for you to know what happens in the rest of Bollywood. Most Hindi film producers hold a special show for the media before the film is released. Such a show is called a ‘press show’ and producers don’t invite stars, directors, cameramen, etc. to them. These special press shows are only for the journalists. If not this, special trial shows are held where industry people and the media are invited together. Invariably, producers show the film a day or two in advance before the release.
Yash Raj: Different From The Rest
Once Aditya Chopra came on board, things changed. YRF began to send tickets for the first-day 3 p.m. show at a suburban Bombay theatre, whenever they had a release. They booked 50-60 seats at the cinema for the media and took very good care of them too (with refreshments, etc. served in the intermission). But they made sure that the media saw the film with the public and only the public.
After many years of doing this, they changed their policy. No, they did not toe the line of other Bollywood producers. A couple of years back, YRF started to show their films to the press at 11 a.m. on Friday mornings in a special preview show organized at the posh preview theatre in YRF Studios, where, of course, the public wasn’t present.
Public Show On Friday Better Than Private Show
I, for one, don’t attend such screenings. Out of choice, of course. At first, they thought that I was keeping away from such screenings to protest their policy of NOT screening films before Fridays, but it was not in the least bit so. If I have to watch their film on a Friday, I’d rather go for a public screening than for a private show. For, by watching the film with the paying public, I also get first-hand opinion of the public which is watching the film with me. It gives me an opportunity to understand whether the public likes, loves or hates the film and which scenes in particular do they like/dislike. And since my reviews are never 100% my opinion – they are my interpretation of the public’s opinion of a film – it makes much more sense for me to watch a film with the public. Not that I do not attend special screenings of other films. Since we all are hard-pressed for time, invitations to press screenings before the Friday on which the films release are more than welcome. But a press show on Friday doesn’t make too much sense for a person like me because of the nature of my job.
Aditya Chopra’s Mindset
If Aditya Chopra doesn’t like to entertain the media, so be it. There’s nothing to be angry about it, that’s the way he is. In all fairness, he also doesn’t attend other producers’ private screenings, so why grudge when he doesn’t entertain the media or refrains from keeping separate shows for members of the fourth estate a couple of days in advance of the release, as is the norm.
The rule that YRF has made for showing their films to media persons seems to be carved in stone. Even when, after a long time, Yash Chopra held a premiere show of his Veer-Zaara, he invited the entire industry, but none from the media fraternity.
My feeling is that it’s not that they hate the media, they just feel that the media ought not to be mixed with the industry people. And I don’t think, this should have any bearing on the reviews of film critics or trade analysts like me. Because, if you’re a journalist, there is no question of factoring in anything but the quality of the film while writing the review. Yes, I know, there might be people who go by the dictum: if they are not good to us, we won’t be good to them… But then, to each his own!