2017 Hindi Film Awards: Promotion Related, Biggest Surprise and Biggest Disappointment

I already put up the winning real life stories of 2017, now lets move on to where film and real life overlap, the promotions that try to drive people into the movies.  What films were over-promoted, leading to disappointment.  And what were under-promoted, leading to delightful surprises?  And what were just plain wrong promoted, leading to both?





Badrinath Ki Dulhania-1

Jab Harry Met Sejal-3


Jagga Jasoos-2


Seven disappointments!  This doesn’t mean seven bad movies, not necessarily.  It means 7 movies that were not promoted correctly, that invited disappointment.  That promised more than they could deliver.

Let’s look at them one by one.  Judwaa promised a happy silly comedy, and delivered something a little too broad, a little too tired, a little too unoriginal to be enjoyable.  Raees, it promised an epic crime gangster story, and somehow delivered something that felt confused, torn between a romance and a character study, between the cop and criminal.  Rangoon promised a beautiful thrilling complex period piece, and delivered a confused love triangle.  Badrinath promised something fun and unusual, and delivered something forgettable.  Jab Harry Met Sejal promised a light romance and delivered a two part character study.  Tubelight promised a sincere drama about humanism and peace, and delivered a cheap shoddy confused mess.  And Jagga Jasoos promised something fun and childish, and delivered something long and a little boring.

I think what we can see is that marketers have gotten very good at predicting what the audience will want.  But they are more focused on that then on what the film they are selling actually is.  They convince people to buy the ticket and get in the door, and don’t really care that people are disappointed afterwards.

Oh, and as you can see, the winner by a hair is Jab Harry Met Sejal.  The spread is very wide, reflecting the different tastes people have.  Everyone was promised a different film than the one they got in all these cases.  Some people were more disappointed in one than the other, either because they were more excited about what was originally promised, or more unhappy in what they actually got.  But in the case of Jab Harry Met Sejal, the likelihood of the first option is greatly heightened.  The promotion was so big, and it promised the kind of big happy romance that has a long history of popularity, and so many many people were very excited.  And almost all of them were disappointed in the totally different film that they actually got.



A Death in the Gunj-1

Mukhti Bhavan-1



A Gentleman-1

Bareilly Ki Barfi-3


One less delightful surprise than disappointment.  But two films that tied with 3 votes.  That’s interesting.  And again, this doesn’t mean 6 brilliant movies, just 6 movies that were different in a pleasing way from what their promotion campaigns sold.  Or that had no promotion at all.

The first two, they are the ones with no promotion.  Film festival hits that appeared on streaming services and in tiny art theaters, waiting for people to discover them.  These are the kind of surprises that are part of being a film fan, a wonderful part of it.  Little films that you stumble on and love.  But which are small little gems, ones that would be drowned in a massive promotional campaign, lost in huge movie theaters, that fit better in this smaller way.

(Interestingly, both A Death in the Gunj and Raabta feature Jim Sarbh)

But the others, these are ones that shouldn’t have been surprises.  Raabta should have been recognized as a light happy love story with a silly plot, not some overwrought remake of a southern film with sturm and drang, as it was sold.  Mubarakan should have been promoted more, should have had faith in the audience to appreciate its light comic touch.  And should have sold the older cast (the real strength of it) a little more, Ratna Pathak and others.  A Gentleman should have been sold as a different black comedy type movie, not as the star film with Jacqueline and Sidharth making appearances around India.  And Bareilly Ki Barfi should have been widely promoted, this was the Jab Harry Met Sejal people wanted, instead of sneaking out to theaters and spreading based on word of mouth.

The problem is, these movies are hard to sell.  They don’t have the huge star names or the simple hooks.  You have to actually work at it to understand what might be appealing about them.  And no one bothered to try to understand, they just slapped some kind of one-size-fits-all promotion plan on top of them.


4 thoughts on “2017 Hindi Film Awards: Promotion Related, Biggest Surprise and Biggest Disappointment

  1. The one size fits all promo campaigns speak to the probability that marketers still see movies as star vehicles and not actual stories. So you see campaigns where the cast is on stage and they talk about the pressure of wearing airport looks and they guess whether their co-actors are members of the mile high club. It’s all about building and capitalizing on the cult of celebrity, but it backfires because none of these actors are celeb enough for most of us to care, plus with online fan clubs and Twitter/FB/IG we pretty much already know everything we want to about them.


    • For me, this was the most frustrating backfire with A Gentleman. I saw the trailers and the songs, and that was it, and I was super super pumped for the film and got exactly what I was expecting.

      But then I took a spin through The Internet, and it looks like the big promotional campaign that I missed because I don’t get Indian TV involved Jacqueline and Sidharth making personal appearances etc. etc. No indication of how unique and entertaining the film itself was. And in this case the film really was the selling point, not just because it’s a great fun movie but because Sidharth and Jacqueline just are not big enough stars to sell a film, it makes no sense to build a campaign around them.

      On Sat, Jan 20, 2018 at 10:13 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  2. I really wondered who was at fault at giving a false image of JabHarryMetSejal during the promotion campaign. It would have been more thrilling to get the feeling of a two-character study beforehand and somehow I am sure that the movie would have had more success at the box office and with the critics.


    • Definitely with critics, I don’t know if it would have gained that many more fans among the audience. But at least it wouldn’t have turned people off so much, the ones who were never going to enjoy it anyway and came to see it by mistake because they didn’t realize what it would be.

      On Fri, Jan 26, 2018 at 7:40 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



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