One of the most interesting art forms, hand-painting of movie posters and billboards is losing its presence in India. Previously this used to be the living of many Indian artists, in fact the famous painter M.F. Hussain earned a living in the earlier part of his career through this. But with time, as technology making its mark everywhere, this art form is in its dying phase.
Now when you get everything at the click of a mouse, it will be difficult for you to believe that Indian film posters and billboards previously were hand painted. This is one art form, which is unique in its own way – it does not follow any western or any other conventional Indian art form and is probably one of the newest innovated forms springing up from a synthesis of different cultures. The styles and techniques of the Indian film Posters are taught in many art schools throughout the world.
Other than these hand-paintings, lithography also played a dominant role in the Indian film posters and billboards. Thousands of lithographic posters were printed on cheap thin papers and were posted on the billboards and the walls. This lithographic printing process is still in use by the commercial printers all over the world.
This process of hand painting of Indian film posters bloomed mainly in the Indian film industries of Chennai and Mumbai. Bright colors, gaudy highlights made the posters extremely attractive. The hand painting gave life to the posters and the billboards. The strong graphics and the exuberant colors are absent in today’s digitally printed posters. Uniformity and tastelessness, lacking individuality and directness is what most of the modern day Indian film posters lack.
The hand-painting of the Indian film posters were in vogue till the 1970s. The different combination of colors, highlighting and graphics of the different film posters flashed individual statement. Not only did the commercial Hindi movies, the hand-painted posters also found a place in the parallel Hindi movies of the time. The Bengali film industry which is considered to be the oldest Indian film industry was very much dependent on these hand-paintings and lithography. Most of the Bengali movies of the time, which included the parallel cinema of Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and others had a significant role of the hand-painted and lithographed posters.
While the hand-painted and lithographed posters injected life to the Hindi and Bengali films, in the Chennai film industry, hand-paintings and lithography gave God-like stature to the actors. The building sized hand-painted billboards are still very familiar in the South Indian theaters. The mainstream South Indian movies mainly emphasize on action and lots of dancing sequences with dramatization of characters – all these are very prominent in the billboards.
However, the electronic printing process is affecting this industry, but to remain in competition, the painter workers are selling their gigantic creation at a much lower rate than those of the electric printing process. These days’ hand-painted posters and billboards are replaced with the modern computer designed posters that are printed on Vinyl sheets. But, collectors worldwide are putting a lot of value on Indian film posters and regular exhibitions across the world are being held to showcase the creations of the masters of Film poster designing.