Bollywood’s posters of yesteryears, broad brushstrokes now vanishing


PANAJI (Goa), Nov 26: They once fired the Indian imagination, and built dreams for the millions. Today, the posters that built Bollywood are being displaced by technology and the changing needs of the time.

Bollywood’s posters have long been handpainted. But technology is making that a dying-art.

With a backdrop of IFFI, the 38th edition of the International Film Festival of India currently underway here, tributes were paid to this fast vanishing world of poster art.

‘Poster Boys’ is the title of a workshop and exhibition being conducted by poster artists from Mumbai. They promise to show visitors to it “the skills and technique that was used to paint old billboards”.

“We called it Friday-to-Friday art,” says Guruji Vinod, himself a prominent practitioner of this art based in Mumbai’s Dadar locality. Vinod was speaking while taking part in the inauguration of this event in Goa on the weekend. Each Friday, he recalled, old posters were changed for new ones.

He paid tribute to poster-artists, as they went about doing their thick-brushed paint strokes on canvas with what seemed like deceptive ease. “Deepak could paint as many as three posters in a day,” he said, pointing to one veteran who worked and trained under him.

Guruji Vinod joked that the posters, after use, would go into propping up shanti-town houses and roadside homes, and thus played a role in serving the commonman too.

“We painted the town not just red, but blue and pink and violet and all the shades and colours in between,” he said, half jokingly, while noting how the art was fading away.

Bollywood posters have been the most commonly seen ones in India.

“Besides the huge billboards that grace the skyline of Bombay, Madras and other big cities in India, you will find that every inch of public wall space is also taken up with gaudy pictures of Bollywood stars and starlets, making for very colorful city streets,” comments a blog by ‘Lotus Reads’ who identifies herself as a female blogger based in Ontario.

Together with the Bollywood Poster Revival Workshop, Ruchika’s first exhibition, going on simultaneously, is ‘Goan Strokes’ features works by renowned artists from Goa such as Mohan Naik, Rajeshree Thakkar, Nirupa Naik and Rajesh Salgaonkar, whose work has been inspired by cinema.

There’s also another simultaneous one titled ‘Fotographik Fawzan’ exhibition displays the works by phtographer Fawzan Hussain. His photographs showcase behind-the-scenes reality on on Bollywood sets, and runs from November 25 to 30.

What sees in the photos of Fawzan are the scenes that go into making the dream-sequences of Bollywood — starlets being doused with bottles of water to create special effects, major heroes in frank off-screen moments, and scenes which the cinema audiences otherwise won’t even suspect goes into the building of the sequences of the dream-merchants.

Being held at the Ruchika’s Art Gallery, a plush and spacious art gallery, the Bollywood poster revival workshop will be followed by an exhibition of poster works called ‘Poster Boys’ produced at this workshop.

Relatively new, the Ruchika’s Art Gallery boasts of over 10,000 square feet of space, with multiple display areas and artist studios for individual and group shows.

Ruchika’s has also promised educational programs which include knowledge- and skill-based courses, designed and taught by professional artists.

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