If organizers of movie awards were to add a category that recognized the pre-release publicity efforts of producers (and the winner of the Best Promo of the Year is…), Yash Raj Films (YRF) would definitely be in the shortlist. For teasing us for months with a movie that was known simply as a “Yash Chopra Romance”. For protecting the title from nosy journalists. And for a trailer that satisfies consumers of the typical YRF cocktail of music, foreign travel and beautiful people whose only aim in life is to love and be loved.
Jab Tak Hai Jaan (JTHJ), which opens on 13 November, is the big Diwali release of the year (the movie is opening on a Tuesday rather than a Friday to take advantage of the Diwali holiday period). It is going up against Son of Sardaar (SoS), starring Ajay Devgn as a Sikh superhero. SoS is yet another remake of a superhit movie from the south. The honour this time round goes to the Telugu blockbuster Maryada Ramanna. The trailer of SoS promises lashings of comic-book action (much of it in gravity-defying slow motion) and broad comedy.
The audiences of the two films are quite different: Devgn is a mass hero, while the following of Shah Rukh Khan, who romances Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma in JTHJ, is concentrated in cities and foreign territories (our sources in Germany report a spike in excitement levels among Khan’s fan base there).
It’s hard to see what the fuss is about on the strength of the trailers. One movie appears to be a tried-and-tested love triangle (unless Kaif and Sharma decide to get it on rather than hanker for Khan). The other seems to be the kind of grey-cell-destroying comic-action spectacle that is a speciality of Telugu film-makers. In fact, SoS has revealed so many of its highlights in the trailer that little has been left to the imagination. The trailer for JTHJ, on the other hand, looks inviting in the same way as the latest title in a romance series whose characters change but whose narrative arc stays the same.
A trailer works just like a book extract, though it often contains more excitement than the movie can actually deliver. The first trailer for Gauri Shinde’s English Vinglish was cleverness personified, though it was far too long: It showed the lead actor, Sridevi, fumbling through the English text printed on a censor certificate. If you guessed back then that the movie was about an Indian housewife trying to wrap her head around the intricacies of the English language, you guessed right. The hugely entertaining teaser of Sachin Kundalkar’s Aiyyaa is so hysterical that movie-goers may have to be given calming pills along with their tickets.
The dark horse in the trailer derby is from a movie that opens on 30 November. The new promotional video for Talaash, Reema Kagti’s thriller about a policeman investigating a series of murders, has much more exposition than the initial teaser, but at least it looks intriguing and different from whatever else we’ve been subjected to this year. The movie has stars (Aamir Khan, Rani Mukherji, Kareena Kapoor), the alternative flavour of the year (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and a film-making team that specializes in slick genre fare. The award for the Best Promo of the Year, like the trophy for Best Actress, is going to be a close call.
Also Read | Nandini’s previous Lounge columns