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Updated: February 1, 2012 19:57 IST

Designing winners

Nita Sathyendran
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Sreejith
The Hindu Sreejith

Poster designer Sreejith N. on his hits in Mollywood

Sreejith N. is the poster boy for success – literally. His design firm, Old Monks, all but outlined a new era for poster design in Mollywood with their glossy, concept-based designs for Amal Neerad's Anwar. After eye-catching posters for some of Malayalam cinema's biggest hits of last year such as Pranayam, Urumi and Beautiful, Sreejith and Co. are creating waves with their cleverly packaged posters for Amal's latest film Bachelor Party and Anwar Rasheed's Ustad Hotel.

The look and feel

It's imperative that the poster conveys the look and feel of the movie, says Sreejith. “Each cinema has a character and a poster has to give a hint to what the audience can expect from the film. For instance, Pranayam is a poignant poem of a movie. That's why its posters feature the lead actors framed against a soulful blue and grey sky. Similarly Beautiful required a clean and simple look and so we decided against too many gimmicks. Thus we had a still from the movie (Jayasurya and Anoop Menon on a motorbike) juxtaposed against a stark white background; the ribbon typo of the lettering gave the poster a splash of colour. Urumi, meanwhile, was a period war film, so it called for a lot of movement in the posters,” says Sreejith.

Ad-man and filmmaker V.K. Prakash signed up with Old Monks after having worked with Sreejith on an ad for Malabar Gold. “A poster is much like an ad. It has to be striking and creative and, most importantly, it should convey the thought of the film. Old Monks have been spot on for all three,” says Prakash. Filmmaker Blessy, meanwhile, gave them Pranayam “inspired by their exemplary work for Urumi. They did a good job of interpreting the brief that I gave and I got a lot of positive feedback about the posters.”

Sreejith, a native of Kannur and a former student of the Government College of Fine Arts in the city, and his batch mate Gopakumar Ravindran a.k.a. Gopan, who is a native of Anchal, Kollam, began Old Monks (based in Kochi) after stints in the advertising industry in Bangalore and later in Dubai. They turned ‘poster designers' after cinematographer Rajeev Ravi introduced them to Amal. “When Amal came to us for Anwar, we knew we wanted to do something different from the age-old concept of using on location shots for posters, which was the dominant theme in Mollywood. That's when we thought of image manipulation. It's commonly used in Hollywood posters and involves juxtaposing and/or super imposing hundreds of individual stills and adding special effects digitally to get that one seamless image. For Anwar we got Prithiviraj, the star of the film, to come in for a photo shoot and used those images – Prithiviraj zooming on a bike, posing with a machine gun, and so on – with other images such as that of a barbed wire fence plus grey and black tones to create a vaguely ominous yet stylish look for the posters,” explains the 29-year-old.

Niche space

Old Monks have since then gone on to carve a niche for themselves for this genre of poster design. For Urumi they Photoshopped out the “timid-looking” horse that Prithiviraj rode in the film and substituted it with a photo of a “more menacing” Arabian breed. For Bachelor Party they composed a poster that is actually made up of 150 or so different images – all in a bid to create that “all important visual impact.”

“Ultimately your aim is to get people into theatres to watch the film, and for that you've got to arouse their curiosity. So it's vital that you create an impact because a majority of the movie goers in Kerala still turn to posters to size up a movie,” says Sreejith.

They've designed:

Anwar, Urumi, Bombay March 12, Pranayam, Teja Bhai and Family, Beautiful

Designing:

Bachelor Party, Ustad Hotel, Leela, Ee Adutha Kalathu, Ordinary

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