SMM Ausaja who has a collection of handmade posters of Hindi films built up over 20 years, has now put them together in a book that will be unveiled at the IIFA awards in Macau today by Amitabh Bachchan.
“I was an Amitabh fan and grew up watching his films in the ’970s and ’80s,” says the 38-year-old columnist, cinema historian and collector. He started collecting posters of Bachchan’s films in his student days in Lucknow. Slowly, he added classics from the previous decades. “I have a poster of Guide autographed by Dev Anand,” he says proudly.
Bollywood in Posters (Rs 2,500) also includes a poster of the 1943 classic Ram Rajya, a film praised by Mahatma
Gandhi. It featured Shobhana Samarth, Kajol’s grandmother, as Sita.
Each poster is accompanied by a paragraph on the film and a summary of its credits. “It can easily be be used as a reference book,” says Ausaja. Bachchan has written the foreword.
The 5,000 posters were not easy to acquire because “now people know their value and don’t want to part with them”. To tell the originals from the fakes he studied poster art.
Ausaja’s collection also includes cinema lobby cards, old LP records and film magazines right from the 1930s. They take up a lot of space in his home and scientifically preserving so many posters without any financial support is difficult. But the collector refuses to laminate them, as “that will take away from the feel”. Instead, he keeps them rolled up in paper and checks on them regularly.
“I wanted to hold a poster exhibition globally, but that sponsorship hasn’t worked out yet,” he says. The book, will keep the poster art alive – even if the reader is once removed from the real thing.
Ausaja is working on a second book, The Bachchans, on the five Bachchans — Harivansh Rai, Amitabh, Jaya, Abhishek and Aishwarya. It will be out in October.