Regional Indian Movies in Rs.100 Crore Club: A Semiotic Analysis of the Movie Posters

Regional Indian Movies in Rs.100 Crore Club: A Semiotic Analysis of the Movie Posters

Lydia G. Jose
Copyright: © 2023 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJSVR.319724
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The movie industry in India has a distinctive effect on their audience, which is rather unique when compared to the various influencing kinds of messages that are portrayed through different forms of media. Perceptual immediacy is often viewed in the audiences while they watch a movie or even when a spark is formed in their psyche just by the visuals that they see on a movie poster. And so, while creating a movie or even constructing a movie poster, the ability to make it relevant to the viewers is carefully considered by the creators of this medium. This paper aims to study whether Malayalam movie posters visually construct meaning and whether they can influence the financial success of a film. The sample for this research was three Malayalam movie posters: Pulimurugan, Kayamkulam Kochunni, and Lucifer. The methodological approach for this study was conducted by using Kress and van Leeuwen's visual social semiotic method.
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On the bustling streets of Kottayam, also known as the land of alphabets in Kerala, India, movie posters can be seen stuck to different walls as a well-thought-out representation to garner the audience attention towards a movie. This common sight can be seen in any city in India and is given sublime importance than politics, which is generally perceived as the central theme all around the country.

Movie posters are the primary mouthpiece that informs the audience about an upcoming film. They are considered as a piece of history that transcends time to convey the story of an epoch to the mass. It can be studied as cultural icons that can be frameable and also collectable works of art (Hart & Moyer, 2019). A movie poster’s objective – advertisement – is to attract audience attention towards a movie so that it can be distributed in many locations. The content on a movie poster can be viewed as simple or complex, informal or formal, short and interactive words as it then encourages audience to understand the message of the poster and decide accordingly (Oglivy, 1988). Movie posters are generally observed as a public urban icon that provides an ocular experience of altering societal and poignant standards to its spectators (Haggard, 1988).

In India too, film posters are given due prominence by the producers and the consumers equally as it promotes the movie for the makers and is observed as a piece of revered art for the audience because of the message that it conveys. Bollywood is viewed as the indispensable part of the Indian filmdom with its roots in the financial capital of India – Mumbai. Bollywood is viewed as one of the largest film-making industries in the world generating a 27% share of revenue to the entire Indian entertainment sector (Jones, 2010). And some of these Bollywood movies have a specialty of producing the top-grossing hits every year and some of them reaching and going beyond the 100 crore box-office hits.

Similarly, the Malayalam cinema industry (aka Mollywood) is seen with around 150-200 films every year and is perceived as the most exciting, progressive movie space in India (Jha, 2019). Some of the movies that have been churned out in Mollywood in recent years have been labelled under the New Wave renaissance movement for its simple formula, which is to let the story rule the movie than the actors who are in it (Nath, 2015). Although Malayalam movies do have a considerable depth to their story (Jha, 2019; Donmez-Colin, 2007), they were never a part, until very recently, of the 100 crore club, unlike the Bollywood movies.

Even though Malayalam movies do not follow the minimalistic approach towards the designing of a poster, the content piques curiosity in the audience’ minds. Malayalam movie posters are generally featured with either the main character containing the entire poster or some mysterious or minimalistic or artistic design that would urge the audience to watch the movie. The current study aims to analyze the visual text by observing the underlying message of each Malayalam movie poster that has entered the Rs. 100 crore club using the visual social semiotic approach. The semiotic study is generally used to analyze visual representations that are present in an advertisement or even a painting (Gilgun, 1999; Freire, 2014). The visual portrayal is accepted by researchers as a way to influence the public perception of the world (Jewitt, 1997). One of the much-acclaimed approach to study visual communication is the use of Kress and van Leeuwen’s (2006) visual semiotic theory. As an extension to the works of Haliday and Hasan’s (1985) systemic functional approach to language, Kress and van Leeuwen (2006) suggested that pictures like words have grammatical structures which could be studied for meaning.

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