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When the nasties get to work

All hell broke loose when the trailer of the Telugu remake of Premam hit social media last week. Malayalis, Tamilians, and other Nivin Pauly cult followers launched a massive attack. The trollers did not lag behind. Golden opportunities like these are hard to come by, they realised. A hundred memes decimated the movie. All this, before the film has even released.

The reasons for the online rage are many — ranging from Shruti Haasan’s dolled-up look in contrast to the original pimply charm of Malar, played by Sai Pallavi, to the exotic locations that have killed the novelty of a small-town love story.

Paracetamol Paniyaram, the funny YouTube channel, summed up the Facebook frenzy by posting a video of a man beating up everyone who comes his way. He was marked ‘The angry Premam fan’. Children, security guards, and teenagers, marked as Shruti fans, Tamil remakers and Naga Chaitanya fans, try to reason with him, but the Premam fan slaps everyone regardless.

The meme-makers went berserk, though some were admittedly funny. They used punchlines and comedy clips from other popular films to express their disappointment. Scenes from the trailer were juxtaposed with a scene from Kabali, where the don rues, “Innum en vaazhkaila ennenna kodumaigal paaka porenu enake therila ” (I wonder what other torturous things I will have to see in my life).

Another was a clip from Thalavattam, where Malayalam comedian Jagathy, the guard of a mental asylum marked as a Premam fan, asks Mohanlal, who’s mentally unstable, labelled as Naga Chaitanya, “You had to bring a bad name to Premam, right?” Nivin Pauly’s stunned reaction to Malar doing the dappankuthu dance in Premam also found its way into these memes as a response to Shruti Haasan’s expressions.

A Goundamani meme was in bad taste. Some barbs were personal, saying Shruti’s voice didn’t suit the dainty Malar. And, there were more tasteless comments made on roles she has played in other films. The reaction just revealed the biases that rear their unpleasant heads in the name of movie criticism.

The Telugu remake is a completely different package. The actors are different. It will be interesting to see how the same story is told to a different audience.

Can a trailer make or break a film? No wonder, talented film-makers are called upon to design trailers. The latest example is Alphonse Putharen, who made the pacey trailer for the Mohanlal-starrer Oppam, directed by Priyadarshan. Directors cannot take chances because their first critic is going to be that acerbic troller or meme maker, who will go to any lengths for a good laugh.

One tends to forget that a trailer is not the entire film. The same brouhaha surrounded the release of Kabali. After watching the teaser, people expected it to be a pure masala film, and were let down by the emphasis on the emotional quotient of the film.

After all that noise we have made, the Telugu Premam might do well in the theatres for a local, non-multiplex audience, who have no idea who Nivin Pauly is. Why can’t we give the director the benefit of doubt?

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