Kolkata: Trailers are possibly as old as the movies and Marketing is surely not a new kid in town. Although Trailer Marketing, as a full-blown strategy, owes its lifeline to the digital age, where reach extended way beyond the silver screen.
From a drone view, there are simply two kinds of movies that are created. The first thrives heavily on entertainment and imagery, the quintessential magic of celluloid overpowering most rational sentiments.
The second is rooted in intelligence and satisfaction, amply provoking thought and when well done, evoking action as well.
There is also a rare third kind, where the two worlds converge, but that is usually neither the intention nor the outcome.
The conventional logic, in India, often suggested that the second genre belonged to the domain of art and serious cinema, deliberately dummied down in production charisma to retain its intellectual juices.
Thankfully, that stereotyping has changed sufficiently as a whole host of quality narratives now possess the trappings of creative indulgence, enriching the foundation and enhancing the viewership.
While the first school diligently ups the SFX game to keep pace with Hollywood shenanigans and, when budgets are not bootstrapped, the gap is indeed narrowing.
But this discussion is about the trailer and I will quickly stay put on that territory. In the legacy era of single-screen theatres and black and white screen households, trailers shared foreplay space with Films Division documentaries, as we waited eagerly for the main act to start.
There was no possibility of sharp targeting and I distinctly remember being exposed to a Muslim social drama while waiting eagerly for Kipling’s Jungle Book.
At best a medley of staccato imagery and at worst a confused traffic crossing, trailers were useful for information, frankly even the maplitho poster did a finer job.
But then, times changed sharply and with the advent of the customer and not just trade marketing, trailers witnessed a dramatic transformation.
No longer a closed-door input, they could now be shared on the internet and rather rapidly, enjoyed on mobile phones as well.
Repeat viewing was now a genuine possibility, not just a fixed appointment, and when deemed attractive peers were deemed worthy of the esteemed share.
They could become talking points for imminent watching or even wrestling pits for passionate bashing or be ignored with disdain - but the choice was clearly at the fingertips of the customer and not the distributor.
This was a seismic shift and managed to overpower the influence of the professional reviewer, in tune with peer-to-peer supremacy over expert analysis, across myriad categories.
In this larger, holistic, context, the trailers for ‘Pathaan’ and ‘Lost’ must be viewed as smashing torchbearers of their chosen genres.
'Pathaan' ensures that the seductive magnetism of the superstars is exposed in vivid glory, and the six-pack constitution possibly becomes the desired content and not just addendum packaging.
‘Lost’ assures the thoughtful watcher that the plot must reign supreme, with more twists and turns than a Himalayan highway.
'Pathaan' takes special care to focus on every actor and their candid charisma. ‘Lost’ spares no mileage in building a persona for every character, and there is a magnificent difference.
In tune with action dynamics, the special effects in the 'Pathaan' trailer are laced with potent technology and permissible excesses.
In tandem with a skilful narrative, the 'Lost' trailer finds subtle ways to invite the viewer to its delightfully layered universe.
Impact for 'Pathaan' is the ability to bamboozle with dire theatrics, Bond meets Musk, and the deadline for doom is hardly a second away.
Influence for 'Lost' is the acumen for intuitive uncertainty as the route map of the play follows no Google Map.
Like every conceivable superhero story, the verdict of 'Pathaan' is typically clear, as the good guys will surely prevail. Like most engaging whodunits, every character in 'Lost' is still in neutral mode, and we know not by design if evil is masquerading as good.
The point I wish to make is not comparative but actually collaborative, as 'Pathaan' and 'Lost' join forces to conjure the glorious canvas of Indian popular culture.
It's like the proven coexistence of test cricket and T20, where apparent contradictions have the jolly knack of building bridges, connecting heliports of diverse civilisation. Quite like the glorious idea of India, where all easily become one just as one can choose a tenure of productive seclusion.
It is democracy at its persuasive best and soft power, as demonstrated by pop culture, can be a far more penetrating indicator than the typical hustings.
'Pathaan', a YRF offspring, is enjoying a successful albeit controversial career at the box office and perhaps the two are suitably intertwined.
'Lost', directed by Aniruddha Roychowdhury of Pink fame, will be found on Zee 5 shortly (February 16) and sincerely deserves the attention of every thinking citizen and that breed is surely plenty.
India was never meant to be North Korea or Taliban Afghanistan, where the views of an overlord eclipse the minds of designated underlings.
I began with trailers and must end with trailers. They can be beginnings and seldom are ends but invariably precursors to a deserved destiny.
The good news though is that the best man does not need to win, as they are both good men worthy of lengthy lives. Charting courses that are autonomous and thus the twain does meet.