Hoarding and poster painters fade into oblivion | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Hoarding and poster painters fade into oblivion

In the 1940s, artist NS Bendre spotted talent in an unknown Bollywood hoarding painter, and urged him to join the real art world. MF Husain went on to make history, but among the film industry’s hoarding painters, he was perhaps the only one to accomplish this feat.

mumbai Updated: Jun 11, 2011 01:28 IST
Aarefa Johari

In the 1940s, artist NS Bendre spotted talent in an unknown Bollywood hoarding painter, and urged him to join the real art world. MF Husain went on to make history, but among the film industry’s hoarding painters, he was perhaps the only one to accomplish this feat.

“Hoarding and poster painters never received their due as artists in the days when all film hoardings were done by hand,” said SMM Ausaja, a film historian and collector of rare Bollywood posters.

It was only after the mid- 1990s, when vinyl prints and digital billboard technology washed away the laborious painting industry, that the world began to recognise the artistic worth of the paintings. “By this time, most of the artists had retired, and are now untraceable,” said Ausaja.

Hoarding painters, once hired by distributors, were given photographs from the film which they blew up to a larger size by drawing scale grids on sheets of disposable cardboard or canvas.

According to Ausaja, V Shantaram had his own set of artists who painted ‘teaser’ posters of his forthcoming films and displayed them in Dadar (East). “They were the only form of film publicity besides radio, and drew hordes of fans,” he said.

“The painters were essentially street artists, and they often infused their own interpretations of the film into the poster,” said Rahul Nanda, owner of film publicity design firm H1. “When the hoarding industry died, many painters were forced to become hoarding mounters to survive.”

While few know the whereabouts of these artists today, producer Ashok Thakeria fondly remembers painters such as Diwakar Karkare and Satishji, who worked with him on his films such as Dil, Beta and Kasam. “We did give them a lot of respect and would mention their names in the credits booklet,” he said.

However, Thakeria admits that it is nostalgia for a lost era that has intensified the value of these forgotten painters.

“MF Husain was an exception — in those days, originality was not easily noticed in India,” said Nanda.