The trailer of Bombay Velvet is out. To strong, widespread negative reactions that can kill the film, even if its well-made!

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Trailers (also called first looks or promos, but what’s in a name?) today are shorter in length, aimed at television and focus more on content and creating curiosity. For the vital 3-day opening weekend, necessitated by high ticket rates, they are far more crucial than ever. They are often designed around an idea or a promotional song, and of course, we have the film’s songs launched in (planned) sequence as trailers too!

As always, trailers must tell us something about a movie – and spark our interest. As Aamir Khan puts it, “Marketing is creating the desire to consume.” On the other hand, Vidhu Vinod Chopra categorically remarked at the 3 Idiots launch: “If my film is not good, no publicity or marketing with help it!”

The clear steps then are:

1. Make a good film that audience would like to watch at least once. Do not take audiences for granted. They know best!

2. Design publicity and marketing – including the trailer – to the content (masala, different, star-driven, devoid of face value, musical, without songs, etc.)

3. Use time-tested basics while making the trailer – like a film, it should grip the viewer

4. And so, create the desire to consume!

A smart promo ensures a good opening also for an eventually disappointing film, like Tevar. Of course, examples of brilliant trailers include Badlapur, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Queen, PK, Kick and more. In song launches, a standout example is ‘Nagada sang dhol baaje’ from Goliyon Ki RasLeela – RamLeela.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Queen, PK, Badlapur and Kick movie posters
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Queen, PK, Badlapur and Kick movie posters

By contrast, the promos of Hasee Toh Phasee (a Karan Johar-Phantom co-production) compounded the insurmountable hurdles of an irrelevant, misleading title and atrocious music. Supremely off-track from what the film was actually about, it completed the impression of a bore-a-thon – the one thing the film was not!

So what ails Bombay Velvet (Phantom again, with Karan now on-screen!)? This is probably the first trailer that has so many actual articles written about it, and makes the film look a redux of Hawaizaada with its fake VFX-created looks of ‘period’ Mumbai and the overdone make-up, hairstyling and costumes. That too, with guns and gore added, Anurag Kashyap ishtyle.

Hawaizaada and Bombay Velvet movie posters
Hawaizaada and Bombay Velvet movie posters

A trade analyst asks, “Why should I go watch a film in which Ranbir is trying to save Anushka Sharma from Karan Johar as villain? That the film is just a wannabe attempt to showcase Kashyap as a commercial director – a losing proposition at concept level itself!- is crystal-clear. This oh-so-boring trailer vindicates a scepticism that’s been there since the film was announced.”

Reinventing Ranbir Kapoor as an action hero needs masters like Rakesh Roshan or Rohit Shetty rather than Anurag. But as the actor even got Roy a good initial, we would have expected the makers to take better care on the promo. In this picture abhi baaqi hai mere dost situation, the trailer should have really shown a terrific tevar.

– Rajiv Vijayakar, a Senior Journalist, Film & Music Critic and Historian for Hindi cinema and Film Music. An Author and Jury Member (58th National Film Awards). 

Rajiv Vijayakar tweets @rajivvijayakar

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