Trailers originally were only played in theatres. Days or weeks before the release of a film, you’d see these short videos advertising what’s “Coming soon!” before or during the interval of a film.
While these appetisers let you know what is coming up, the industry had a much more effective tool to advertise films — songs.
Songs have advertised films to an incredibly successful extent, so much so that many producers were much happier pumping more money into musicians than into scriptwriters.
Which would explain why some devastatingly rubbish films have wonderful songs.
But this also meant songs became a part of the most unlikely genres; from true crime to biopics to period pieces, every film would end up having songs.
But with the second decade of the 21st century coming to a close, filmmakers, courtesy of the Internet, have found a way to bring down their reliance on songs for advertising.
Today, most trailers drop on YouTube as soon as or before the songs do, and filmmakers have learnt that trailers can catch the same amount of attention that songs can. Perhaps the most striking example of a trailer gaining far more traction than the film’s songs was Andhadhun (2018).
The film, which told the story of a blind pianist, was introduced with a voiceover that said: “Everyone knows the problems of being blind, but who knows its benefits?” The trailer threw in fantastic graphics with the blind man’s glasses as the trope, introducing everything from its comical murder plot and the femme fatale who says: “They say crab meat is an aphrodisiac, just don’t ask me how to spell it.”
It was made very impressively and had sent ripples across Twitter, with many both inside and outside the film fraternity going on to praise director Sriram Raghavan’s craft. The art of the trailer was taken to the next level with the recently released Mard ko Dard Nahi Hota.
The female lead Radhika Madan is seen asking the crew why she should attend a promotion event when the film is just a launch vehicle for its male lead Abhimanyu Dasani.
“Just look at the name of the film,” she says mockingly, “My dialogue at most would be ‘Help me! Help me!’” This, just seconds before she kicks down a knife-wielding man with ease. This irreverence to its own self, which characterised all the trailers of the film, left its target audience sufficiently appetised for the film.
The latest to discover such possibilities is the Tamil film Super Deluxe, which is due for release this Friday. Even as the film boasts an impressive cast of Vijay Sethupathi (who plays a transgender), Fahadh Faasil, Samantha Akkineni and Ramya Krishnan, what catches our attention in the trailer is a surreal and seemingly unrelated story about a man, a tiger and a mountain that the voiceover tells you.
The trailer baffled many with this confusing story, and that has sparked enough debate to serve as an advertisement for the film.
With these trailers proving that songs may not be the most effective tool for promotion in the Internet age, we may soon see a paradigm shift from the traditional trailer, which was simply a montage of random sequences from the film playing against a thrilling score. Expect more experiment and intelligence. Coming soon!