Impressive collection of hand-painted film posters

Impressive collection of hand-painted film posters

From the archives

Impressive collection of hand-painted film posters

Tracing an authentic, handmade Bollywood film poster is not an easy task. But ask Pravesh Kumar Sahni and he will tell you some interesting facts about original film posters of  the 1930s.

“At the end of the poster you will always see the name of the printing press. Either Mumbai or Madras is  mentioned as these were the only two places where posters were printed,” says Pravesh, who recently showcased his marvellous collection of Bollywood posters at Best of Indian Cinema festival at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA).

Pravesh, who comes from a family of producers and distributors says, “If you look carefully at the face of the actor/actress you will find it is distorted and has only a little bit of similarity with the original face,” he says, while talking about the posters, dating from 1940 to 70s, that were on display.

According to him, the trend of handmade posters existed till late 70s. He talks about films like Mughal-e-Azam, Mother India, Jugnu and Aan, original posters of which were on display at the exhibition.

As Pravesh walks Metrolife through the exhibition area, he explains, “During those days posters were an important part of a film.

Not only was it the way a film’s publicity was done, but the audience too would judge a film by it. If the poster was not colourful or failed to narrate a story, the audience would reject it. A definite case of first impressions being the last impressions!” says the curator.

“Therefore, in 1970s ‘lobby or show cards’ were introduced,” he adds. “These cards are a different kind of posters of a particular film,” he says, pointing towards Dilip Kumar and Waheeda Rahman’s Dil Diya Dard Liya and Dilip Kumar’s Ram Aur Shyam.

“There was an additional to­uch to the poster to make fa­ces more real,” says Pravesh. 

He makes it a point to draw our attention to the unique poster of Shree 420. “Even RK Studios do not have this poster. People have offered me more than Rs 50,000 for this poster,” says Pravesh excited to be the proud owner of such an iconic item of publicity material. 

Pravesh’s knowledge about posters comes from his father and grandfather and other family members who were closely associated with Prithviraj Kapoor and the film industry.

“I have grown up in an environment where only films were discussed. Since we were distributors and owners of cinema halls like Naaz, Savitri, Deep and Sudarshan, collecting posters becomes a natural thing.

At that time films were used repeated time and again, so arranging posters for the second time was a difficult task. Therefore, we used to keep a dozen in spare. Out of which I used to keep one for myself,” he exclaims.

Today, Pravesh has more than 200 original posters. He exhibited his collection for the first time in an event organised by Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) in 2010 and thereafter, at the Delhi International Film Festival in 2012.

He also presented his unique collection of posters at the Cannes Film Festival along with the Directorate of Film Festival (DFF).