Digitally Inspired Media – with a clientele that includes SPI and PVR Cinemas – drew a slew of posters depicting Rajinikanth’s classics.
The posters were as minimalist as can be.
The Baasha poster featured black wayfarers against a red backdrop while the Sivaji version was painted blue. A one-rupee coin hovered in the middle. Thillu Mullu was a little tale unto itself: a mop of hair, and half a moustache.
The posters became a rage on social media. More so because they were minimalist, and employed just an element or two that crisply defined the movies.
They were also well-coded, to be understood only by those who had keenly watched the movies.
Deciphering them called for a trained eye.
*****Meanwhile, three guys from Digitally Inspired – who had contributed to the making of the posters – setup a Facebook page called Minimal Kollywood Posters which went beyond Rajinikanth, and celebrated other famous Tamil movies.
This initiative too, went viral.
On a lazy Sunday evening, I wait at a cafe in Besant Nagar to meet the men behind Minimal Kollywood Posters.
In walk three guys who seem suspiciously like freshers. Unkempt hair, muddy floaters, and nonchalance.
After a photo session, we settle for a chat over steaming cups of Darjeeling Tea.
Anand Srinivasan, Karthikeyan Manivannan and Raunaq Mangottil recount their tale of founding Minimal Kollywood Posters.
And, when they get to the part about designing posters, it sounds deceivingly simple.
Having shot to fame quickly – already a few interviews old when we meet – they vehemently insist that they aren’t boastful. “We are doing everything only to satiate our love for cinema,” Raunaq reiterates, adding that he was a contributor to a Facebook page called Minimal Bollywood Posters before setting up MKP.
Raunaq and his friends are engineering graduates by profession, having quit their full-time jobs to join advertising.
*****And that’s how, I learn, Karthikeyan Manivannan became Seyon.
He rechristened himself before beginning to create logos. “Seyon sounds fashionable and all that, but it is one of the names of lord Muruga,” he laughs.
Anand and Raunaq, who have been close since they were teenagers, tried their hand at making short films. “We watched Rang De Basanti, and we couldn’t resist the urge to make a film. We were that motivated. But, we couldn’t pull it off. So, we ended up making a spoof of Billa,” recalls Anand.
The spoof was titled Chella.
…and their ideas for the posters are conceived during smoke-breaks, they laugh gaily. “To be precise, by the time, we finish smoking a cigarette, we would have a clear picture of what we intend to do,” chuckles Raunaq. Their dormant team member Gautham Raj would then sketch the design.
The single rule that MKP abides by is to not be obvious in their portrayal of a film. “We watch the films closely. So, when we create the posters, we zero in on an angle that is quirky and not too evident. Most importantly, we ensure that all our posters are related to Kollywood,” explains Raunaq.
If Interstellar was Made in Kollywood... is a cool example of his declaration.
*****In November last year, the MKP team came up with an album of posters on the eve of Kamal Haasan’s birthday.
They woke up to a pleasant surprise next morning, for their Facebook page had literally exploded; with followers sharing and talking about the posters.
The three men behind MKP heaved a sigh of relief. They began welcoming fan requests for occasions – the anniversary of a film’s release or an artiste’s birthday.
Their poster for Kamal Haasan’s Indian, featured just a military cap – the one worn by the elderly Kamal in the movie while Thenali was pictured with a picnic basket …and a peeping mouse.
One of the striking features of MKP is perhaps the fact that motifs are quite often repeated to great effect. The recent birth anniversary of MGR prompted a poster featuring a set of black frames – a typical MGR motif, while Velaiyilla Pattathaari was set in yellow, with thin wiry frames. Hey Ram, on the other hand, had stern Gandhi glasses, with a punctured lens. Thalapathi was portrayed with a goods train that chugged along solemnly while the Alaipayuthey poster bore a frontal sketch of a suburban train.
Not all of MKP’s posters were loved, though. Their tribute to Silk Smitha on her birthday last year – an illustration of the actress’s cleavage – wasn’t well received. “Some found it vulgar. But as we’d written in the description, the point was to drive home the fact that while many may remember Silk Smitha as a ‘soft-porn’ actress, a few know that she was much more than that. She was the symbol of raw feminine power, a personification of the hypocrisy in the industry,” points out Raunaq.A few followers came to their rescue. “That matters a lot to us. Fans engage with us, and on many counts, they talk on our behalf. Our fan-base is improving.”
Thanks to their popularity, several other MKP pages have now cropped up – but that doesn’t seem to deter the founders. “I get requests to like their pages. However, they can’t update anything frequently,” laughs Karthikeyan.
Meme creators exploit their work, too. “It’s natural for impostors to follow. They might copy our work, but our ideas are unique. We can’t blame them. For all that we know, we might have inspired them,” Raunaq chuckles, as we finish our last round of tea.