Updated: Nov 16, 2018
Blame it on the trailers themselves.
The Pad Man trailer is easily the best Bollywood trailer of the year so far, followed by Raazi. It’s entertaining, inspiring, gripping, promising. It was love at first sight, and I knew I had to catch the film on the weekend of its release.
To confirm my decision, I consulted several movie reviews. A majority of them had thumbsed up. I booked the tickets.
But 10 minutes into the film, I felt a void–I KNEW the story beforehand. The trailer had given it away–so had the several reviews either extolling the flick or tearing it apart. I loved the movie, but missed the excitement of unravelling a new story and exploring the journey of its characters. That’s because I’d experienced it all in the two-minute-long promotional clip.
I dismissed the feeling and continued watching, reviewing, and dissecting various other trailers and consulting and deciphering film reviews. The experience repeated at the screening of a Greek film, but I disregarded it again. And soon, the clip for Veere Di Wedding dropped.
Wish I hadn’t heeded its fans and skipped the trailer altogether. Because it only made me decide to NOT watch the film. The reviews, polls, op-eds, and word of mouth post-release pushed it to the bottom of my watch list, and I ended up valuing my money more than an opportunity for self-taught film education.
To understand my point, go back to your childhood days. Would your grandmother ever give you a gist of the story she’d tell you that night? Would she create a special video to up your excitement? No, she didn’t need to. Because she knew you’d await the moment anyway. It wasn’t just your love for your grandmom–it was also your love for her storytelling, your joy of hearing new stories. You never needed a sales pitch from her, and she was smart enough to not hand it to you.
You may argue that unlike granny’s tales, a movie ticket comes with a cost, even if we don’t count the popcorn, samosas, or iced Pepsi. Not to forget, the travel fare. But if I call myself a screenwriter and storyteller, I MUST pray the price. A hack could be watching movies on weekdays, when charges are more than halved and cola flows unlimited. Or wait for them to hit Netflix or Amazon. Until then, I need to will myself to shun all reviews and promotions, and there are several ways of doing it (one of them is a simple method called ‘staying busy’).
Another potential argument: Grandma’s stories brim with quality, and I can’t afford to spend my fortune on shitty films. If you’re an aspiring screenwriter or filmmaker, watching bad movies is as much a part of your job as appreciating the good ones. How else would you know how to not make a bad film? And if I stop watching trailers and reading reviews, how would I know it’s a bad film anyway until I find out for myself?
I can still go and watch Veere Di Wedding, but the mental block has cemented itself and several other films have taken over my list. So, it’s better to refrain from watching trailers, reading about these movies anywhere, or perusing a single review before hitting ‘Book’ or pressing ‘Play’. I have tried this approach for a few flicks, and trust me, the exhilaration at being blank in the beginning and gradually uncovering the plot as you go along is one of the best feelings on Earth. You may like or hate the movie, but you would have learned something from it.
So what am I going to blog about now? Well, travel joys aren’t stunted by prior research or bucket lists, so that’s what I’ll be covering here. Plus, you’ll see columns on my upcoming novel, personal opinions, and life lessons. I will continue writing about books and films, but focusing on scripts and techniques than reviews. Film and book preferences are subjective, painted by our own biases and life experiences, thus this is the only way to be as objective as possible. Besides, I don’t want to kill your thirst for listening to stories and finding out what makes a good one. Grandma would agree.