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Kabali in space

While you and I will look at a film as a source of entertainment, for the producer it’s actually the end product of extensive R&D, budgeting, analysis, procurement and processing of raw materials that need to be sold. Like every product, a movie has it’s customer base  who needs to be alerted about it’s release. How this has been achieved in Kollywood so far, is a documentary by itself because from ‘bit notice’ to ‘celeb tweets,’ ‘autorickshaw announcements’ to ‘aeroplane ad-banners,’ Tamil cinema’s movie promotion strategy has progressed. Nowadays it’s tweets, teasers and trailers, but what would’ve we waited for eagerly during various times in the past as a film fanatic? If Kabali were to release in various times, what would have we been expecting?

In 1931, when the reels of the first Tamil talkie, Kaldias, arrived in Madras, thousands of people gathered in the Central railway station to receive it and followed the reel box as a procession till it reached the theatre. The posters of the film read “Tamil Telugu pesi padum padam.” In fact it could be said that from the very beginning, following the traditions of theatre promotions, posters and flyers played the vital part of movie promotions. In the earlier times, posters solely banked on the finesse of the artist designing the poster and the creative puns of the content writer. The towncriers with promotional banters and bullock carts with proclaiming banners were the promo platforms then.

As a fact right from the first ever film, just how lyric videos are playing an important role in today’s cinema enterprise, songbooks have been requisite. “Songbooks not only contained lyrics of the various songs featuring in the film, but also contained the details of the film. The songbooks used to get sold at the theatres and people used to buy them during the interval.” Says National Award winning documentary specialist Sruti Subramaniam, who runs The Cinema Resource Centre in Alwarpet which caters to the preservation and display of Cinema related articles as old as 1930.

Lobby cards were also a vital component of the in-house promotions for an upcoming film. A typical lobby card would be something like the LED screens outside the screens in the present day multiplexes. Those days it used to feature a working still from the film with the film’s name and cast details. A typical film fiend would eagerly await a still of an upcoming film before the show’s title cards started. Glass slides that would project these stills in colour were a prominent element of movie promotions then.

Were Kabali to release then, I can imagine myself sitting in Murugan theatre waiting for the scene slide with Thalaivar sitting in easy chair. I can imagine myself running towards the kiosk to get the song book of Santhosh Narayanan’s album with the annas I’d have saved. I can only imagine.

With the onset of better printing capabilities, more artistic posters started coming out, elaborately colored and detailed hand paintings soon got substituted by better versions with the advent of photography. Wall posters were the first look of the movie then. While a group of people staring closely at a wall is a rarity these days, that used to be a fan moment in those days  The 80’s started the trend of photo stills used in the movie posters. By the time audio cassettes started running wild and became something people awaited eagerly. Most of the audio cassettes had the lyrics of each song enclosed within the cassette case in pamphlet which could be said as the evolved version of the songbook. Scenes from an upcoming film started getting propagated as promotions through television. It became something fans would flock to and watch in Doordarshan. Were Kabali to release then, more relatably, I’d have been running to Spencer’s Plaza to get a free listen of the songs in the walkman kiosks of one of the shops. I’d have stood staring at Vinci Raj’s wall posters of Kabali in the walls adjoining Devi theatre.

With time all these components got updated with technological advancements. Cassettes became CDs, which have now become MP3 downloads through official labels. Hand made posters became paintings, painting became photo posters, photo posters have now become graphical motion posters. Scene slides became trailers that featured in TV and movie intervals, and have now become social media shares and tweets.

Being a part of this era, here I am happy and content after getting to see the teasers as soon as the links got tweeted by the makers. Here I am eagerly awaiting for the movie after watching the lyric videos of Neruppu Da and Maya Nadhi on YouTube. Here I am, staring into the skies, at the aeroplane ad banners of Kabali.  Here I am wondering, what would be the future promotion plans for movie that would make all this old age? Promotions in space? Perhaps if Kabali were to release in the future, makers might be thinking of promotions in space!

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