Bollywood has come a long way. From the black & white films of Guru Dutt to the nationalistic films of Manoj Kumar to the angry young men in Manmohan Desai’s films to today’s films for the NRIs, Bollywood has kept pace with the changing times. I consider myself lucky to have witnessed such changes over the last two decades. But there is one change which I wish should have never taken place.
Be it the angry young man Amitabh Bachchan screaming through the poster of Kaala Patthar or Nargis carrying the weight of the world in the poster of Mother India, film posters have been an integral part of Bollywood history. If you were to walk past cinemas in the 80s & the early 90s you could have never missed the huge colourful film posters. These posters would have been stuck half-hazardly everywhere on street lamps, walls, electric boxes or on the back of the city buses.
Every poster in those times told a story or portrayed an emotion. You could sense the love between Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore in the poster of Aradhana or the cheekiness of Mehmood in the poster of Garam Masala. I remember when I was a child I had seen the poster of Dream Girl somewhere and I couldn’t believe how beautiful Hema Malini was. Recently in the film Om Shanti Om, the scene where Shahrukh Khan talks to the film poster as if he is actually talking to Deepika sums up exactly what I’m trying to say.
But in recent times film posters I feel have lost their charm. They are just photoshoped images of actors and actresses looking glamorous or seductive. While some are heavy on special effects others are heavy on airbrushes! There are no emotions or charm in there. For example recently the poster of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara had three guys on the roads showing off their abs. What does that say about the film??
I think the reason for this can be due to the fact that earlier the posters were hand painted by people on minimum wages who were genuinely film-going fans. They would worship these posters and would feel responsible for the actors and actresses to look good on their posters. Their passion for what they did was unparalleled. They would also use the money they earned to go watch the film. Today these people have been replaced by marketing gurus who have top quality designers under them proficient in the use of Photoshop. They may or may not actually go to watch the film. They do what they have been told to and they do it very well. But there is no passion in it. Some may argue saying that this is what the audience today wants. Maybe it is or maybe not, I still feel sad that such art has been lost in time.
Is there any way of getting those days back? I wish I could go back to the time when we could say, ‘Phata poster nikla Hero’!