Sriharsha Chundru, Pradeep Chowdary Meka and Vajja Krishna Chaitanya have always been three true-blue film aficionados whose lives were intertwined with the celluloid. Having breathed, talked and discussed films all their life, they know what direction a film ought to take to generate buzz among crowds and reach its target audience.
When the trio decided to come together to establish a digital marketing startup Walls and Trends predominantly catering to the needs of the entertainment industry in 2016, they only considered it an extension of their obsession for films and not work.
It's this hunger to be a part of films and the filmmaking process that has ensured the fire in their bellies through their careers. Since its inception, it's not a surprise that the company has been the backbone for Tollywood to help films generate the right noise in the digital circuit. The three of them worked on the first Baahubali in 2013, set up their company in 2016, and continued working on the second Baahubali film till its release. Apart from this franchise, they have also worked on this year's biggest Sankranti releases Vinaya Vidheya Rama and F2: Fun and Frustration, and the upcoming release Suryakantam with much success.
Having set a fine standard for quality lyrical video production over these three years, their repertoire extends to multiple areas including publicity design, VFX, branding, content management, celebrity management, and video creation among a few.
Giving us a glimpse into their journey, Harsha says, “We have all been friends since 2010 and bonded over our love for films. In our tryst with several filmmakers and producers over the years, we felt we could give alternative ideas to approach film promotion on digital platforms and established Walls and Trends.”
Their stint with director Puri Jagannadh and Arka Media laid a strong foundation to their digital marketing careers.
Having worked with industry leaders prior to the social media boom gave them an early edge.
“It was an interesting phase because those were the early days of social media marketing and people didn't even realise that products could be marketed virtually. We helped Puri (Jagannadh) sir with regard to his production house Vaishno Media and worked there for a year before joining Arka Media for SS Rajamouli's magnum opus Baahubali. The journey during Baahubali itself was such a learning curve that it was like a school for us. We felt we had gained enough knowledge to start something of our own, especially with marketing. Thanks to a spectacle like Baahubali, everyone associated with the film has prospered in their respective careers, including us,” Chaitanya adds.
Their association with the Rajamouli family went a long way in establishing their credentials in the market. They owe the success of Walls and Trends as a digital marketing startup to forging a ground level connection between the pulse/expectations of a film amid the fan clubs and the film producer.
No discussion on Walls and Trends as a startup would warrant attention without a mention of their lyrical videos. The hits to their lyrical videos show an upward trend even after the song videos are out on streaming platforms, throwing light on the quality that goes into their production.
“The lyrical videos do well after the release of their video versions because people enjoy humming and knowing the words of the song. For the production of a lyrical video, people give us the song lyrics, film plot, and based on that, we generate content using images and lyrics. Lyrical videos were a rage in Bollywood when we had started and was only picking up in the south. We never realised that it would go on to become the primary publicity material sooner. After the first look and teaser, filmmakers are now very excited to reach out to people with lyrical videos,” the founders share.
‘Peniviti’ from Aravinda Sametha, ‘Rangamma Mangamma’ from Rangasthalam were among the top examples where their lyrical videos created a strong impact. Suryakantam, Arjun Suravaram, Jersey, Maharshi are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the lyrical content they are to generate in the coming weeks.
“The impact of a lyrical video is also dependent on how willing the producer is to reveal content about a particular movie. It's equally exciting when don't have much supplementary material, too. For instance, the lyrical video of Nani's Middle Class Abbayi title song has only lyrics and no images in it,” Pradeep adds.
They also don't deny the possibility of experiencing a lyrical video with a VR gear in the times to come.
Their only grouse about digital marketing with respect to Telugu films is the bombardment of publicity content two weeks leading to the release and the lack of any digital media activity prior to that.
“It is advisable that filmmakers start digital media promotions two or three months before their release. When you try to bombard a film only 15 days prior to the release, there have been umpteen instances where audiences haven't expressed interest in a film's content. The process needs to be gradual. Smaller films are more enthusiastic in digital marketing because they don't have stars. Bigger projects rely on stars and don't tend to push their film early across the digital circuit. When producers of star-backed projects begin to take digital marketing seriously, it'll set a standard,” the team feels.
The latest on their cards is the behind-the-scenes-footage they've been producing for films right from the pre-production stage to its post-production. Their work for Srinivasa Kalyanam, F2, Vinaya Vidheya Rama have gone a long way in proving their success in this aspect.
Having worked on 90 Telugu films in less than three years, Walls and Trends has its hands full with a motley of projects, including Rajamouli's multilingual biggie RRR.
“We'll always be thankful to SS Rajamouli and family, Shobu Yarlagadda, Dil Raju and Chandru Kumar (of Lahari Music) to have backed us for their prestigious projects. We are a committed team hungry to work on more films and get better by the day,” they sign off.
Srivathsan, a journalist by profession and an explorer by choice, finds purpose to his life through the books he digs into and the stories he writes. A walk in the park with music gives him a sense of calm while catching movies at the theatres week after week is a ritual he can't get enough of.