By Hindustan Times
A movie slated to release. Held breaths. Anticipating fans. Feisty forecasts. Such electric reactions from a piece of paper and one glimpse. Let me introduce to you a poster- an under-rated, oft-forgotten and rather powerful medium for any movie to have seen light of the day. Posters have been
appetizing viewers ever since movies could be made, right from the first Indian film Alam Ara to the latest Rowdy Rathore. They maintain the mystery every movie seeks to create before releasing. They bring a sense of novel entertainment, of seeing loved actors, of latest fashion, of seeing emotions magically unravel on the 70mm screen.
What you are reading right now spurts from a recent Bollywood trend of posters hitting the scene. In the midst of digitization and technological ease, the skill of poster-making faded, along with the various painter-artistes who were the designers of what is now called a film's print promotion campaign. Indian posters were known for larger-than-life, pertinent, bold portrayals of actors. With a boldly lined cleavage of the heroine to the bulging biceps of the hero - our posters used vibrant colours, heavy strokes, highlights and flashy expressions. It was not just the heaving bosom of the heroine or the scowling hero that jumped out of the poster, there glared a nonchalance and flamboyance, symbolizing the coming of-age of the Indian cinema and the society.
In the last one year, Rockstar, The Dirty Picture, Ishaqzaade and most recently Rowdy Rathore roped in professional artistes to paint a poster which would be publicized as the main still of the movie. The posters revoked nostalgia and curiosity, adding to the glitter of the movies that ultimately touched sky with superhit success. This change in promotion strategy doesn't just benefit the movie but revives the lost art of posters. Posters understand a movie thematically, in-depth with the nuances the characters bring along. One fleck of frown, one dismayed face, one pair of longing eyes- all these nitty-gritties are our first rendezvous with the movie’s gamut of grandeur, emotion, tragedy, love, humour and loss.
“Since the film marks Akshay Kumar’s comeback as an action hero, we thought we would exploit the ’80s angry young man avatar for him. We incorporated almost every vintage element in these posters to do justice,” reveals Shikha Kapur, one of Rowdy Rathore’s co-producers.
Posters have today become a thing of art and are recommended by art curators as vintage and collectibles. Posters have provided the platform for artists like MF Hussain to rise to eminence. The art of posters, as art curators interpret it, is lost to the photographic, HD digital quality stills, which are easy to design and distribute, but seem lackluster. Creating posters to publicise modern entertainment is a lucrative way to conserve the long lost art.
Posters have been the art of the common man. Posters have been the most appropriate style to depict the exaggeration and extravaganza that Indian films are. Posters have had a journey of their own in the Indian cinema with a history sprawled over 80 years. Posters strive to be immortal. Good posters achieve immortality. Bad posters are condemned to the slinging spit of paan and pee. Notorious ones are like crackers on a Diwali night - they fire, they burn and then they are consigned to the greyness of trivia.
Movies fill in where life disappoints. Everything related to a movie, be it the actors, the songs, the dancing, the destinations—it all has elements of dream and delirium. It is the bridge between our lives as they exist and lives that might be. A poster, is the best blueprint of what cinema stands for- exaggeration, melodrama and fantasy. Even in this day and age of video teasers and publicity blitzes, the poster is what remains when the morning comes. Bollywood is once again spiling colour, and we are only waiting for more!