Movie makers use the social media to be innovative. Check out the pre-release hype online

“I’m getting engageddddddd !!!” tweeted Alia Bhat, the heroine of Karan Johar’s 2 States. And it created quite a stir. As it turned out it was just a unique promotional strategy for the trailer launch of the film. And, the trailer went viral. Movie marketing is no more just about larger-than-life banners and big scale music launches. Film makers now create pre-release hype online and draw the crowds on the opening weekend. A silver jubilee or a golden jubilee run do not matter anymore, all they want is a full-house on the opening week and huge profits.

“Such pre-release promos on the social media gives an instant reach among youngsters, their target audience,” says S.V. Rakul, who has made over 30 short films. He says the trailer of Rajnikanth’s Kochadaiiyaan, launched during the audio release of the film, has already crossed five millions views. And there are already apps and games about the film.

They also upload videos of the making of a song to promote the film. During the release of director Imtiaz Ali’s Highway, Alia Bhat tweeted a video of the making of ‘Sooha Saha’ song where A. R. Rahman trains her. Recently, trailers of Inam, Cuckoo, and making of a song from Sivakarthikeyan’s Maan Karate built up huge expectations. Trailers of Jigarthanda and Vaayai Moodi Pesavum also got viewers hooked.

Says A. Shamir Mohamed, film and documentary maker, “ The ‘Amma Amma’ song from Dhanush’s Velaiyilla Pattadhari about mother-son bonding is already a big hit on the social media. Dhanush has sung the song with Janakiamma.”

Actors such as Dhanush and music director Anirudh make it a point to be seen and heard on the social media before a film releases. Their intense promo of the film Ethir Neechal with videos and songs drew crowds to the theatres. Shamir points out how Mysskin’s film Onayum aatukuttiyum released during the same failed to get the attention of the public because of lack of promotion.

Some promo campaigns are inspiring too, he adds, giving the example of Jigarthanda made by a young team who started off as short-film makers. A lot of creative content and brainstorming goes into teasers now and everyone wants to capture the attention in a 20-sec promo, Shamir says.

Promotions begin from day one of shooting where they create a Face book page that gives a daily update right till the release of the film. They say some films such as Cuckoo was a let down though the initial hype looked promising. Cartoonist P.C.Balsubramaniam, who has made many short films recalls a funny video ‘How to Climb an Elephant’, posted by director Rajamouli from his film Baahubali. “The director hops on to the elephant back in a jiffy while the hero struggles to do that. It shows the difficulties in filming such sequences and when you watch the film, you tend to watch out for these scenes,” he says.

Latest film stills from director Shankar’s Ai with Vikram and Amy Jackson released from Weta Studios abroad has whetted people’s appetite. “Film lovers now want more about the casting, the technology used, and so on. There are a lot of expectations from Rajamouli and Shankar,” he says.

Bala mentions Ajith’s film Veeram. “A pre-release video on how the actor did all the stunt sequences by himself moved the fans and that contributed a lot to the success of the film. A strong creative content catches everyone’s attention. Some films tend to romantically link up the lead actors which often backfires.”

Sometimes there is also the danger of overkill. “I stayed away from watching Ahaa Kalyanam ( a remake of Band Baajaa Baarat) because of an overdose of publicity,” says RJ Ranjitha. “In the 70s, a film titled Iruvar Ullam was promoted creatively as a newspaper cutting that featured pencil sketches of two hearts each bearing the name of the hero and heroine. Now, it has become highly commercial. Traditional radio ads that mentioned the names of the actors and the makers are passé. Now, they want us to pick a catchy dialogue from the film or a funny incident during the making of the film and build the hype. We do that in rotation, where in a matter of five minutes you hear about the film over 15 times. It works in big way for small budget films such as Panniyarum Padminiyum and Pandiya Naadu. At the end of the day, a film with good content is a promo by itself.”

* Promos of Shah Rukh Khan’s Happy New Year involve a global campaign with Twitter. Users receive a personalised poster signed by the actors and addressed to the fan by name.

* Director Rajamouli of Bhaubaalireleases videos — teasers, funny behind-the-scene action… — regularly. Recently, they brought out avideo for the exam season, featuring all the actors. It also showed funny clips where the actors clown around. This became very popular among fans. It has already received thousands of likes.