B.K. ADARSH, the compiler of this immense volume and editor of "Trade-Guide", has very flatteringly singled me out to write this article. I have accepted his invitation with pleasure.
There is clear evidence that Indian film publicity, always miserably below foreign (especially Hollywood) standards, has over the last decade lost much of its dynamism of earlier years. One hardly sees a good, eye-catching advertisement these days and the handouts issued by public relations officers have become drier and more uninteresting than ever before. There is a visible bankruptcy of ideas and novelty in outdoor publicity, too, and altogether the publicity of an average film from start to finish has declined in quality.
The root cause of the trouble, in my opinion, is that by and large film producers do not UNDERSTAND what film publicity is or should be. Many do not engage professional, qualified publicists at all and go through a production without this important limb altogether. Those who do engage the few publicists there are (and most of these are charlatans) pay them poorly. I know a publicist who publicises as many as eighteen pictures and gets about fifty rupees a month from each production. All he does - and one can't blame him - is sit down with his typewriter once a week and reel out eighteen dry, unreadable, unpublishable write-ups, which have no reader interest in them at all. With this kind of thing going on, is there any wonder that the standard of film publicity has gone down so low?
Most of our better and well-circulating film journals are still published in the English language. One is not happy about it, of course, but there it is. To vernacular papers-even to those that are important-the average film producer does not seem to attach any importance. He finds it enough for his purposes that the news of his activities and his advertisements should keep on appearing in the three or four presently prominent English papers. He is seldom bothered to ensure that the handouts emanating from his camp are real 'human interest' stories, such as Hollywood producers issue, or that his advertisement has a good, eye-catching, correctly written headline. He is not educated enough to judge either. It is he, consequently, who is responsible for this lamentable, mushroom growth of the ill-equipped publicist, who cannot write one sentence of English-and, in many cases, even of other languages-correctly, who feels completely baffled and at sea when called upon to devise a nice caption to a space-advertisement. Being the more numerous today, it is this charlatan who holds the field of film publicity in his ruinous grip. The better more experienced and tried publicist-of the value of, say, three or four hundred rupees a month-who has a bright record of intelligent and creative publicity is consequently very much at a discount today. "My write-ups appear all the same," thanks the silly producer, but he forgets that the right kind of write-up is not being issued at all! His 50-rupees-a-month public relations man is fundamentally unable to writ five interesting lines.