Long before computer graphics modified the face of Indian movie industry, the ripping muscles and heaving bosoms of Bollywood actors and actresses were shown via hand painted larger-than-life posters, that attracted a lot of cine-goers to the cinema hall. Hand painted movie posters and billboards, one of the most remarkable art forms in India, rarely make their presence felt these days. Earlier this used to rub the butter on the bread for many Indian artists, in fact, the famous M.F. Hussain earned a living in the dawn of his career doing this. But with time, these colorful, vibrant and often overly done displays have become a dying art, as technology slowly devalued India’s poster painters.
A unique art form indeed, it’s not followed by any western or any conventional Indian counterparts, and probably was one of the newly innovated forms that sprouted up from the combination of different cultures. This culture mainly flourished in Mumbai and Chennai, where artist employed bright colors and loud highlights to make the posters extremely attractive. Those strong graphics and the riotous colors are missing in today’s digitally printed posters digitally printed posters. Uniformity, tastelessness, lacking individuality and directness is what qualifies the modern Indian film poster.
The hand paintings ruled the roost till 1970. The Bengali film industry, considered to be the oldest film industry, was very much dependent on the hand painted posters. Veteran producers like Satayajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, employed these posters substantially, injecting fresh dose of life in their films. Presently, in order to survive the competition, painters are now trading their creation at a much lesser price than those of electronic ones. But, collectors worldwide are investing a lot on Indian film posters and regular exhibitions across the world are held to demonstrate the creations of these artists.