When laptop-sized invitations for the audio launch of Madharasapattinam were distributed, talk about the film's extravagance did the rounds. Living up to the hype, the audio launch function left the visitors in awe with its magnificent set, simulating pre-Independence days.

The invite of the period film, starring Arya, had small packets of pictures and maps, each representing different aspects of the film. Glued inside the invite was a tiny sachet carrying coins minted in British period. A map of old Madras was pinned along.

A bunch of pictures of old Madras was also part of the invite. “Each invite, excluding the coins, cost us Rs.530. But the effort we took to collect the maps and coins mattered a lot. The research on the then Madras were done while we were shooting the film but it took a lot of time to collect the coins,” said Vijay, director of the film.

Awe-inspiring invites and thematic audio launches are nothing new to Tamil film industry. Three years ago Kandasamy surprised the industry when the crew distributed its video-integrated invitation for audio release.

More recently, Aayirathil Oruvan made waves for its thematic stage backdrop during the launch of its audio. To match its fantasy genre, the stage was designed as caves, with men sporting prehistoric costumes.

“Thematic sets during audio launches and flamboyant invites have now become integral part of publicity by the film-makers,” explains art director T. Santhanam. The role of art directors has now extended beyond film shoots, as they are involved in introducing creativity during such events. “The invites and pre-release events of films provide a glimpse of storyline. Publicity is now an expensive business but no one minds,” Mr. Santhanam says.

The trend of sending out expensive invites is, like fashion, a cycle, observes Siddharth, director and creative designer. Invites for films such as Vasool Raja MBBS, which was rolled up and slotted inside a syringe; Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu that was designed as a jigsaw puzzle, letting the invitees to decode the puzzle; and Boys, which came in the shape of Rubik's Cube, were instant hits with the industry.

“The audio launch invitations of yesteryear movies were as much creative as the recent ones. Some years after that, there wasn't much happening as people lost interest. Now we are getting to our roots,” Mr. Siddharth says, calling this a healthy trend.

“It adds value to every movie and brings in more creative minds to work on such interesting things. It makes Tamil film industry refreshingly ingenious.”