They can be laajawab and they can be lewd. Decent or indecent. Attractive or uglolium. Whatever be the quality, they are as much a part of a cityscape as leaves are of a tree.
They are big business, too, for those who design and create them. And the classic ones are terrific art investments (ask Neville Tulli). Okay guys, now roll it. Vajir Singh and Hiren Kotwani meet the leading poster people of Movie Town
As in every field of filmmaking, poster and publicity designing is led alternately by the seasoned players as well as upcoming talent. Hoardings and posters - one of the prime windows to selling a film - are now mostly done on slick vinyl.
Gone are the days of hand-painted hoardings, but that of course, is another story.
We met up with four of the top poster log people in show town: Atmanand of Studio Link, Rahul Nanda of H-One, Rajeev Chudasama of Marching Antz and Sucharita Sengupta of Glamour Design Studio.
What drew you to the business?
Atmanand:Publicity designing was the only profession I could think of getting into and I'm still around after three decades.
Rahul Nanda:The idea of telling a story through a visual appealed to me.
Rajeev Chudasama:Coming from a background in advertising, I found more creative freedom in this field.
Sucharita Sengupta-Suri:It's a means of maximum exposure to the maximum people.. from Mumbai to Manhattan, Bihar to Birmingham, the world's your stage.
Your three best posters?
Atmanand:1942-A Love Story, Khuda Gawah and Ghulam.
Nanda: Black, Devdas and Gupt.
Chudasama: Ek Hasina Thi, Om Shanti Om and Lakshya.
Sengupta-Suri:Rang de Basanti, Dil Chahta Hai and Kal Ho Naa Ho.
Three best Indian movie posters ever?
Atmanand:Mother India, 1942 A Love Story and Saawariya.
Nanda: Mother India, Pyaasa and Guide. The late Amarjeet used to design fabulous campaigns for Dev Anand's Navketan banner.. which were ahead of the times like The Great Gambler.
Chudasama:Mother India, Don and Swades.
Sengupta-Suri:Mother India, Kaagaz Ke Phool and Sholay.
Three best international posters?
Atmanand:Seven Samurai, The Godfather and The Pianist.
Nanda:Jurassic Park, Lawrence of Arabia and Vertigo.
Chudasama: The Indiana Jones series, Jaws and Ocean's 11.
Sengupta-Suri:Big Fish, V for Vendetta, the teasers of Batman Returns.
Three worst Indian movie posters ever?
Chudasama: Heyy Babyy, Eklavyya and Dhol.
Sengupta-Suri:Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag, Budha Mil Gaya and Rama Rama Kya Hai Drama.
Isn't ‘inspiration' or ‘chorigiri' of foreign film posters prevalent?
Atmanand:I have never copied frame-to-frame. Inspiration is welcome but it can never be a copypaste. Some designers just replace the pictures and the title, and bingo, a poster's ready!
Nanda:Inspiration is to do something on a larger scale. Take Jurassic Park, its logo was used even in merchandising.
Chudasama:Thankfully, none of my posters has been placed next to another to show that it's been copied.
Sengupta-Suri: At times, you succumb to pressure from the filmmaker.
Photo-shoot rackets? Getting star photos clicked and selling them to international magazines and calendars?
Atmanand:If the stills are good enough, I don't insist on photoshoots.
Nanda:There's never been any hotch-potch.. or racket.. as far as my campaigns are concerned.
Chudasama:If a filmmaker gives me a bunch of photographs and asks me to create something brilliant from them, it's as if he's tying my hands behind my back, gagging me and then saying I'm free to do as I wish.
If you expect quality, then let me be free to shoot the pictures accordingly. For Goal, I went to London and had the shoot done while filming was on.
Sengupta-Suri:What racket? We don't force photo-shoots on any one. Film stills can be a better option if filmmakers kept the publicity poster in mind while shooting. But who does?
Why is publicity designing so hot?
Atmanand:Posters introduce a film, draw viewers to the box-office. So I knew I'd never be out of work.
Nanda:Prints are the first visuals for everyone, from the distributor and exhibitor to the viewer. The electronic media only comes in second to take the film forward.
Chudasama:The story of a movie can be indicated through its posters.
Sengupta-Suri:To make sure that the audience get a handle on the film's concept.
A filmmaker you want to kill?
Atmanand:Too many but obviously I can't name anyone.
A filmmaker who wants to kill you?
Atmanand:Only they can answer this.
Chudasama:I guess Pooja Bhatt. She gives me really cold vibes.
How much does a single project pay?
Atmanand:Depends on the size of the project. Just 10 per cent of a film's budget is kept aside for publicity. Poster designing must account for barely two per cent.
Nanda:Anything from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.
Chudasama:It varies on the components. For a medium-budget film, it could be between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 10 lakh.
Sengupta-Suri:Budget for the print publicity is usually around five per cent of the film's total budget.
How do you cope with delays in payment?
Atmanand:When a movie bombs, you have to forfeit your money.
Nanda: I've never had money issues and corporatisation has made life even smoother.
Chudasama:Delayed payments are an issue. But more than that, the problem is that everyone wants to be creative and interferes in your work.
Sengupta-Suri: Competition is cutthroat.. if you fight over remuneration issues, tomorrow your client will move to someone else.
Your first poster?
Atmanand:Thodi si Bewafai.
Nanda:My first film brochure was 1942 – A Love Story. Then Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge, Rangeela and Andaaz.
Chudasama:Ek Hasina Thi.
Sengupta-Suri:Kal Ho Naa Ho.