Bollywood trend: What drives the ‘one star, one poster’ strategy for new films?

The release of separate posters for each of the characters in Baadshaho is followed by the same publicity trick for Padmavati and Ittefaq. We explore whether this is the demand of the story, or if it’s about star egos.

bollywood Updated: Oct 23, 2017 19:12 IST
Rishabh Suri
Rishabh Suri
Hindustan Times
Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone in separate posters for Padmavati, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Posters are the first point of contact every viewer has with any film, be it a big-budget spectacle, or a small indie project. A good poster should be able to tease the audience, and at the same time be able to keep the buzz going. It’s easy to see why multi-starrers such as Baadshaho would release separate posters for each character, but films with fewer characters, e.g. Padmavati, Ittefaq, and Parmanu, are doing exactly the same thing.

This trend is a stark departure from the classic Bollywood posters, which gave viewers the full spectrum of the cast.

Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, and Shahid Kapoor got separate posters for each of their characters in the upcoming film Padmavati.

Analysing the trend, trade expert Atul Mohan says that the Internet helps filmmakers to exploit the fan following of each leading cast member. “In the age of social media, filmmakers get to sustain the buzz by focussing on different actors. They can easily keep the respective stars’ fans occupied, like releasing Deepika Padukone’s poster first, then Shahid Kapoor, and then Ranveer Singh. [They give] something every few days till the movie is finally released.”

Akshaye Khanna and Sidharth Malhotra in posters for Ittefaq.

Milan Luthria, director of Baadshaho, has a similar viewpoint. “You want to tease the audience, and play with their curiosity,” he says. “For example, after they’ve seen Ajay Devgn wearing a bandana, they want to see what would be special about Emraan Hashmi’s poster, and so on. One has to look for various devices to engage the viewers.”

Mohan points out another possible factor: “The filmmaker has to satisfy the ego of each star, too, because they [all] want equal suspense for their characters. After the separate posters, a poster with the whole cast is released, so you have to justify each one of them. Sabke alag poster se har artist ko importance mil jaati hai.”

The multi-starrer film Baadshaho had poster launches for every important character in the film.

Viewers’ brains, fed on endless social media content, are wired differently these days, and filmmakers have to keep pace with that. Rahul Nanda, the man behind posters for films such as Ittefaq, Jab Harry Met Sejal, and Bareilly Ki Barfi, says, “A dedicated poster for each actor creates interest. Today, the market is completely digital — social media users need different things that they can consume. The newest and best way to inform them about each character is to make it look more interesting.”

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First Published: Oct 23, 2017 19:12 IST