Two videos that we should look at both for content, and context. Since they are both “disrupting” the industry.
Gulabo Sitabo Trailer
Well, Amazon is starting to promote the first of it’s big name streaming movies. Let’s see how they did!
The trailer was “launched” through a remote video call from all the players involved. I saw the trailer was available through Taran Adarsh’s twitter, and BollywoodHungama’s website. It’s posted on youtube, and (most important) it has subtitles. On the other hand, if I go to the real Prime website, there is nothing there.
In “normal” times, the trailer would be promoted through entertainment media sources, and social media. It would be posted online for all to watch. But it would also play in movie theaters, and in TV ads. I don’t know if Amazon is shelling out for TV ads, since I don’t watch Indian TV, but there are certainly no in theater trailers. And the other advantage, having the Prime platform there for us to see, is not happening. The Prime website gives no clue that this movie is coming.
Social Media isn’t doing as good as it could either, but that might just be a function of the times. Normally Taran would post something like this, and then everyone from the industry would tweet how much they liked it or whatever, and I’m not really seeing that. On the other hand, everyone from the industry is leading very odd lives right now, so maybe that’s why, not because they just don’t feel it is as important for an Amazon movie.
Now, the trailer itself!!!! Amitabh has a fake nose. Right? You watch it and tell me what you think:
And I have no interest in this movie. If it was in theaters, I would go review it opening night for the whole theater experience and because I know everyone would be talking about it. Streaming, I may skip it.
Amitabh owns an old falling down house, Ayushmann rents a room with his wife Sanya, Amitabh wants higher rent and Ayushmann refuses to pay, Amitabh tries to sell, Vijay Raaz shows up from the government to stop him, and on and on and on. It all feels very trapped. I want something fun and exciting and fantastical, not something “real”. Especially if I am watching at home. This just looks exhausting.
Gautham Menon Makes Short Sequel to Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya, Releases on Youtube
Back when Gautham Menon’s last theatrical movie got delayed literally hours before it was supposed to release, some kind people here explained to me that the Tamil industry is a disaster of unregulated usurious funding. Gautham, and other producers, are forced to sign open contracts with massive interest rates. So his debtors from a previous film might sue to hold up the release of a current film until he pays them back. Or he himself may be reluctant to do anything with a current film knowing all the money will funnel back to these investors.
Gautham Menon in particular has all of these projects in development that somehow never release. Big projects! Like, a movie with Vikram that even had a trialer shot, and hasn’t been completed since 2-3 years. And his big past projects somehow never get sold for streaming rights or DVD, just went into theaters and then disappeared. It’s the most frustrating thing for fans of his (like me). And I am sure it is also frustrating for him. At a certain point, you start to think “why doesn’t he just give it all away? No contracts to dispute, no profits to fight over, just make it free.”
And that’s what he did! He wrote a little script for a phone conversation between Trisha and Simbu, the stars of his massive hit romance Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya, and Trisha and Simbu filmed themselves on the phone saying the lines in their own homes, then Gautham edited it all together. And posted it on youtube for us all to watch, For Happiness.
This isn’t a super viable longterm business model. It worked this time because everybody donated their services and did everything for free. And because it was just a phone call conversation, no need to get sets or anything. But it is interesting to feel the frustration of “I just want to work! I just want to get my vision out there!” bursting forth into this “I’ll do it for free if that is what it takes”. And maybe because of the global crisis, his backers won’t leap down and take this beautiful little 10 minutes of filming and claiming it for their own.
Anyway, the film itself! It’s a good coda to the original ending of the movie.
Trisha is still married to someone else, Simbu is still searching for happiness and fulfillment. It closes a couple of doors of interpretation. With the original ending, it could be read as Trish unhappy in her marriage and pushing Simbu to find love again in order to remove him as a possibility from her life. Or Trisha as now a boring unimaginative married woman thinking only real happiness is in boring marriage and is trying to limit Simbu to the same way of thinking, while he is better and FREE.
This short film flows naturally from the original ending, and respects both characters. And is also a beautiful way for art to reflect our current life, not trying to make a big statement on anything, just a small imagination of how the current stresses can force small personal changes. Hopeful personal changes, in the middle of this film I started to feel really dark, and then it ends with a sense of change and fluidity and hope.
Simbu calls Trisha because he is depressed and can’t write and going insane locked up in his room unable to work. She answers, and is calm and content where she is, in Kerala with her husband and children. Simbu acknowledges that Trisha has been wonderful, supportive and loving and always there for him for the past ten years. But now he is so depressed, so broken, he just wants her. If he can’t have her physically, he wants her to say “I love you”.
She says it, but then follows it up by telling him her truth, she is in love with her husband. Simbu is a friend now, someone she loves almost like a 3rd child, but she is in love with her husband. And she won’t tell Simbu to move on and fall in love again, she understands he may never do that, it may not be in him, and that is on him.
This is what I am focused on right now, the small moments of personal growth and understanding and change thanks to this special time. I think we have all had those phone calls with old friends, moments of reaching out and reforming a bond. And we have also had those moments of clarity and honesty about ourselves thanks to this time apart. Gautham made a lovely piece by just focusing on that, on the little personal experience and not the big one.
Because of this terrible situation, Simbu was deeply depressed, sincerely depressed, to the point that he said something he was afraid to say to Trisha until now. And because he said it, she said her own scary truth. It won’t change everything for them, but it will change some things. Trisha is no longer going to worry about Simbu finding love, that is his journey. And Simbu is no longer going to think Trisha is still an option for him, she is on her own path.
And the audience is no longer going to think of their love story as tragic, at least I hope not. Simbu has chosen his path, he has chosen to be single and obsessed with his lost love. That’s not a tragedy, that’s a personality. And Trisha is not boring and unhappy in marriage, she had found love and moved on because that is her personality.