They once fired the Indian imagination and built dreams for millions but today, hand painted Bollywood posters are being displaced by technology and the changing needs of the time.
A workshop and exhibition, with the 38th edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) as its backdrop, is being held here to pay tribute to the fast vanishing world of poster art.
"Poster Boys" is the title of the workshop and exhibition being conducted by poster artists from Mumbai who promise to show visitors "the skills and technique that was used to paint old billboards".<b1>
"We called it Friday-to-Friday art," says Guruji Vinod, a resident of Mumbai's Dadar locality and a prominent practitioner of the art. He was speaking while taking part in the inauguration of the event in Goa and recalled how each Friday old posters were changed for new ones.
He paid tribute to poster artists as they went about making 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 shanty town houses and roadside homes, and thus played a role in serving the common man 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 posters in India.
"Besides the huge billboards that grace the skyline of Mumbai, Chennai 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 colourful city streets," comments a blog by Lotus Reads who identifies herself as a female blogger based in Ontario.
Being held at Ruchika's Art Gallery here, the Bollywood poster revival workshop will be followed by an exhibition of posters produced at this workshop.
Besides this, an exhibition called Goan Strokes is showcasing the works of renowned artists from Goa, such as Mohan Naik, Rajeshree Thakkar, Nirupa Naik and Rajesh Salgaonkar, who have been inspired by Indian cinema.
There is another simultaneous exhibition titled Fotographik Fawzan, which displays works by photographer Fawzan Hussain. His photographs showcase behind-the-scenes reality on Bollywood sets and runs from November 25 to 30.
What one 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 go into the building of the sequences of dream merchants.