Saturday, March 02, 2013

POSTERNAMA March Edition: The secret language of movie posters

In this edition of Posternama, I'll take a closer look at the posters for Bollywood releases in March.
Then just for fun, I grade them. Bollywood, consider this feedback!



I, Me Aur Main - March 1

A smirking John Abraham is sandwiched between two women. Chitrangada, looking dapper, leans on him indicating a romantic relationship. But John seems more interested in Prachi Desai. Prachi is wearing an outfit that looks like she can't decide whether to drop acid or go for a jog. But I think this getup is meant to convey carefree, bindaas girl. Because John is ignoring a certified hottie like Chitrangada and leaning towards Prachi, we could conclude he's plain nuts. But the title of the movie suggests that John is just a really self-absorbed guy who can't think beyond himself. While the title of the movie is nicely reinforced by a recursive image of himself on his T-shirt - juxtaposing him between two women just muddles the message.

Grade: B-

The Attacks of 26/11 - March 1

Ram Gopal Varma's recreation of the horrific 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai might be the scariest movie he's ever made (and no, I haven't forgotton about Aag). The poster contains an image of the Mumbai skyline dominated by the Taj Hotel (which was the site of the most carnage wreaked by the terrorists). The skyline is washed in a color that suggests blood. Great so far. The bottom half of the poster shows some guys in a boat headed straight to the Taj. The terrorists arrived by boat into Mumbai under cover of darkness. I'm not questioning Ram Gopal Varma's famed research department, but those guys just look like a bunch of dudes out for white water rafting.

Top half of the poster: A
Bottom half of the poster: C


Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns - March 8

Sequels are so popular now in Bollywood that producers are financing follow ups to movies no one watched the first time around. The Saheb (Jimmy Shergill) and Biwi (Mahie Gill) are still around, but there is a new rapscallion gangster in town. Its Irfan Khan and we know he's up to no good because he's got a shababi-kebabi expression on his face and he's twirling his mustache  There also another Biwi on the poster - Soha Ali, which begs the question: should this movie have been called Saheb, Biwi, Gangster Aur Biwi? Jimmy looks tense, Mahie looks amused, Irfan looks sinister and Soha looks guilty. Yes, you can watch this movie by tuning into any soap on ZeeTV and save yourself a trip to that overpriced multiplex.

Grade: B



Jolly LLB - March 15

This movie has tight closeups of Boman Irani and Arshad Warsi (who is pulling a funny face). This movie is a comedy! Not to mention its clearly relying on its stars. When the biggest  stars in your movie are Boman and Arshad (fine actors both no doubt), you are in deep kimchi. The story appears to be set in the world of lawyers and court-kacheri. This is communicated via the time tested Bollywood image of a blindfolded Plaster of Paris woman with the scales of justice. Plus that horrendous title has the word "LLB" doesn't it? But wait, what's this? The lady has dropped her scales and instead is using her hands to hold Boman and Arshad apart. This indicates a bickering rivalry. While Boman looks serene and gloriously Photoshopped, Arshad looks a little stressed. Plus there's a tiny hammer that's about to drop on him. Arshad probably gets beaten up a bit in this movie. On the top of the poster, the words "in" and "justice" have been colored and juxtaposed to transform their meaning and convey the film's punchline.

Grade: A



Mere Dad Ki Maruti - March 15

This movie stars newcomer Saqib Saleem (Mujse Fraaandship Karoge). But he's so new and the movie has so few stars that the most important thing here is the titular Maruti. Now that has to be a confidence denter for an actor - being upstaged by a tin can masquerading as a car. Anyways, moving on. Saqib is holding up a Missing poster for the car  - a farcical riff on Missing Persons posters. Based on what little of poor Saqib's face is visible, you can tell he's petrified. This means his Dad (who owns the Maruti per the title) doesn't know and when he finds out he'll be pissed. The poster has clean, bright lines - yes, it must be for Youngistan. Now unless this movie has deeper meanings about father-son-car relationships, I'd say its about a missing car no one cares about. Since I don't possess a robust zeal for Marutis, this generic looking poster did nothing for me.

Grade: C



3G - March 15

This rather busy poster has a lot going on. First there's the gigantic phone. A woman's hand shatters the screen and reaches out towards the viewer (Meaning: this could happen to you!). The nails on the hand are painted red (indicating danger!) There is blood all over her thumb (suggesting she might have dug someone's eyes out!) Neil Nitin Mukesh is in the top left corner of the phone looking rather disturbed. His real-life girlfriend Sonal Chauhan is pictured wearing her expression. No, I really mean it - there is only one expression she does and that's it! The tagline says "A Killer Connection". So murder may or may not be involved. There are a few things to note here. The biggest star in this movie is a mysterious woman's hand - because it has the best placement on the poster. This is a scary movie (note black and grey color theme). This is a remarkably bad movie title (along the lines of RUSH and RUN). But the poster despite its busyness is striking and communicates things really well to the viewer.

Grade: A-



Aatma - March 22

This poster has Bipasha Basu on it. It's already on the right track as far as I am concerned. Bips is a  holding her daughter's hand and walking right in front of an incoming train. She has a dazed expression on her face (Bipasha goes through many scenes like that so it may or may not mean anything) and her daughter seems to be looking at her and saying "Erm, mum, should we be getting off the tracks maybe?" In the back, blended in with the clouds is a headshot of Nawazuddin Siddique looking very menacing. Clearly he is the aatma. The poster clarifies the character, the theme and the story effectively and I loved how it guided the eyes with its placement of objects.

In the movie, Nawazuddin plays an abusive husband who kicks the bucket but comes back to posses his daughter and terrorize his widow. That makes him a bad father. But given that Bipasha is guiding that girl straight to her death, she ain't a basket of roses either. Sorry little girl, you are just shit out of luck on the parent front!

Grade: A+ because its a good poster and I love Bips



Zindagi 50 50 - March 22

This poster was made by someone using Microsoft Paintbrush (yes, it's still around) while sitting on the proverbial throne. Completely devoid of any kind of creativity and clearly meant to titillate those who are VERY bored and horny with ABSOLUTELY nothing to do, this poster has confounding font choices and pretty much communicates nothing. In fact, I'm not even convinced its a real poster! It is included in our March collection to remind starlets (Riya Sen, Veena Malik) of what happens when they don't work hard at acting. Bad things.

Grade: Let's not insult F here


Sona Spa - March 22

Sona could either mean gold or sleep in Hindi. On this poster it clearly means sleep because (1) there are two blindfolded girls with folded arms in a deep sleep and (2) Naseeruddin looks half asleep. Good job, poster! This movie can't even hold the interest of its marquee star. And why would we go see a movie about something we can do at home for free? The poster has no answer to this penetrating question. The movie is apparently a high concept thriller about a person (Naseer) who sells you sleep via sleep workers who sleep on your behalf. Does that make any sense at all? No, it doesn't. Half the title of Sona Spa is in Hindi and the other half is in English. Hopefully that will make sense to you after you finish watching the film. If it doesn't, go home and sleep it off.

Grade: D



Himmatwala - March 29

Himmatwala is a remake of a cheesy 80s hit starring Jeetendra and Sridevi. It tries to sell this concept to you by featuring an iconic pose from the movie reenacted by stars Ajay Devgn and Tamannaah front and center. Devgn looks suspiciously fairer and younger than he is. Tamannaah is wearing some hypnotic pattern on her brause (that's a bra masquerading as a blouse). Drums, dancing girls with matkas and gaudy gulaal in the air adorn the background. The words "The Blockbuster" serve as the tagline. Director Sajid Khan, thanks to a string of hits like Heyy Baby and the Houseful franchise is now a bit of a headliner himself. Should that be enough for us to all go see the movie? Someone in the Poster Design Department seems to think yes. Someone on this blog seems to think no.

Grade: C

5 comments:

Sania said...

Aspi, the first film is I, Me and Main. If my Hindi reading is correct :)

shakun said...

I didn't like the 3G poster so much. It looks unfinished and boring! I did like the Aatma poster. The colours are so striking!!

Anonymous said...

sahib Biwi Gangster poster looks so funny. and i think they will really make a comedy movie. their comic timing is impeccable. cant wait to watch this movie

Aspi Havewala said...

Sania, thanks! I can' ttell you how many times I keep getting that name wrong. Anon, so I should see the first one then?

Mind Rush said...

Grade A+ to Drift!