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“YouTube is the best thing that could happen to us”

Chinni Nihlani (PromoShop)talks about his journey in Bollywood and how he started his career as promo director

The Story So Far…

I am from a film family and I always knew I wanted to do something in the film trade. I happened to know Ritesh Sidhwani and I was already editing trailers as well as writing. When I started making trailers, I realised that making promos is a combination of editing and writing. We made our first trailer for Excel Entertainment’s Game, after which we made the theatrical trailer of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, the entire campaign for Don 2 and trailers for Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal, Commando and more recently The Lunchbox and Ugly.

My father was a filmmaker and, back in the day, they used to make their own trailers, and the buzz around the film would be gauged by the length of the queue outside the ticket window. Exhibitors would pay producers to cut trailers of their forthcoming films, so that they could lure the audience to cinema halls. Also, there were so few platforms to promote your film. We just had DD 1 and 2 on TV and AIR. The dynamics of the business has changed completely. Trailer companies began sprouting in the late ’90s and there is fierce competition in this space. But the real challenge is making trailers for off-beat, small star-cast films.

On Ugly’s Trailer

Our brief was to highlight a small girl gone missing. The idea was to whet the imagination by showcasing the best shots from the film so that the intrigue would lure the audience to cinemas. The film has a fairly new cast but the content is packed with punch. To establish the story in the trailer, we took a character-centric approach, and highlighted all the characters at once. Each one has multiple layers so if you think you have understood the film by simply looking at the trailer; you will be in for a surprise.

A trailer is meant to tantalise. But, often, a film has only so much to offer and the audience is disappointed when they watch the film on the big screen. Many trailers are misleading, and that’s why the filmmaker has to provide a very clear brief. You need to be certain of what he wants to portray because it is his product. Without a brief, you tend to run in ten different directions. With Ugly, Anurag gave us a clear brief and we were always on the same page.

The Response

The trailer released two weeks ago on a Monday and I knew it was received very well because I have been bombarded with friend requests on Facebook! Also, YouTube has realised the potential of Bollywood and that is the best thing that could happen to promo companies. The film has had huge hits on YouTube.

What Next?

I have three or four Films and a few bigger projects, which I can’t talk about.

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