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A different kind of poster boy

Tucked away in a corner of bustling Mohammed Ali Road is a tiny, cluttered curio shop that caters to the world. It’s main export: Nostalgia, reports Serena Menon.

india Updated: Sep 06, 2009, 01:00 IST
Serena Menon
Serena Menon
Hindustan Times

Tucked away in a corner of bustling Mohammed Ali Road is a tiny, cluttered curio shop that caters to the world. It’s main export: Nostalgia.

Rows of wooden shelves line the 250-sq-ft room, groaning under the weight of Bollywood memorabilia — hand-painted posters, black-and-white portraits, old record covers, lobby cards and artifacts, some of them dating back to the 1930s.

Bollywood Bazaar, run by father-son duo Shahid (59) and Wahid Mansoori (32), is the only such store in Mumbai, a treasure trove of original kitsch and pop art collected over decades in tribute to the world’s largest dream factory.

It’s not a terribly lucrative business — not many know of the store’s existence, and the Mansooris shun publicity. “Out of appreciation for our collection, our clients have kept the store’s secret safe,” smiles Wahid.

But now, a selection of posters is all set to travel to France — for the second time.

Just last September, Wahid sent withered, forgotten posters of Guru Dutt and his films to Paris.

This time, the tribute is to Raj Kapoor and the posters will be displayed at a retrospective in October.

Organiser of the Raj Kapoor retrospective Sally Picard, a French national, discovered the hand-made posters at Wahid’s store six years ago. And she and her husband decided to share them with their audience in Paris.

“This year, the Raj Kapoor exhibition will showcase 25 original posters and documents like lobby cards, photographs and lyric books,” said Picard. “There will be around 150 exhibits.”

Last year, a mere 30 exhibits of Guru Dutt attracted more than 500 people in Paris, she said. This year, Picard expects a much bigger turnout.

Mumbai, home to a Rs 600-crore industry and numerous allied forms of popular art, does not yet have a film museum — plans for one are still being debated.

And Shahid knows even Bollywood Bazaar’s days are numbered.

The shop will only last as long as the collection does. And he will stop, he says, when all but one piece is sold: A lyric booklet of India’s first talkie, Alam Ara.

“I feel I have earned it after all these years. No riches in the world could ever buy that from me,” he said.

ht epaper

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