The tale of Bollywood posters

The Asian Age.  | Sanskriti Ramachandran

Entertainment, Bollywood

Films only had one poster, and that too a hard copy rather than the digital versions being shared on social media today.

Trade experts weigh in on the evolution of film posters, going from physical copies stuck on walls to motion posters on social media.

Bollywood films have evolved quite a lot over time and so have their posters, as seen through films like Panipat and Pati Patni Aur Woh. What these movies and others have in common is that each one has several movie posters. This wasn’t so 10 years ago: Films only had one poster, and that too a hard copy rather than the digital versions being shared on social media today.

“One has to move ahead with the times. One poster was sufficient before, but the advent of social media dictates that one is not enough. Filmmakers need to do something on a regular basis to keep the audience engaged with their product. This is why we have so many posters of a single movie,” explains trade analyst Atul Mohan.

The founder of Buzzverb Marketing, expert Roopesh Jain, agrees. “A lot has changed in the way films are being marketed; innovation is the key to views. With the digital medium taking centre stage, releasing multiple posters on digital and social media has become a trend and tool to generate curiosity and awareness about a film. Another change is that each character of multi-starrers has their own poster that introduces them, like in Panipat. This definitely helps to create buzz,” the marketing maven shares.

Marjaavaan director Milap Zaveri finds that the digital posters of a film hold more value than a physical copy now. He opines: “Digital posters are important because people who love these posters can take them from the Internet and make it their screensaver, their display pictures, or even share them on Whatsapp groups amongst friends. That’s the way today’s generation functions. These digital posters manage to travel further because they’re literally on your phone, something you have access to at any point in time. If you want to show it to someone or you want to discuss it, it’s just the way the audience is nowadays.”

Jain adds that the digital medium is also popular because it comes with a lot of creative and financial liberties. “Some posters are specially created for digital mediums as one can create multiple creative formats and circulate them without any cost. Meanwhile, physical posters have a printing cost attached to them and are also restrictive for design. Which is another reason why digital posters are common these days,” he shares.

However, Mohan clarifies that physical posters are not entirely out of commission yet; they are now printed exclusively for villages and smaller towns, whereas the digital campaigns are not as extensive, or even non-existent. “There is always one ‘master’ poster which remains from the beginning till the end of the campaign,” he explains. Zaveri adds: “The main creative will be displayed normally in standees and theatres all across India for audiences to physically see them too. Your best posters are always reserved to be standees to theatres or cinemas, and the ones that may not be that powerful are only reserved for digital use.”

Digital posters are not the only thing to have blown up. Many have gone one step ahead and opted for motion posters — a tactic that has a greater possibility of reaching out to a larger audience than a static poster. “Motion posters are more dramatic in that there are visuals and sounds at the same time. Even though it is not a teaser or trailer, there may be a dialogue of the film or something fun that is more gripping than a static image. It’s also a handy tool to create intrigue without giving too much away,” Zaveri explains.

Other than the content of a poster, the experts say that timing also plays a key role in promoting and marketing a film. Mohan reveals that promotion teams start planning poster release schedules well in advance, and Zaveri adds that they keep the schedule of upcoming films in mind so as to avoid clashes. “There is so much information, and content on the Internet that you don't want to get lost in the crowd,” the director concludes.