A hundred years ago when Dhundiraj Govind Phalke organised the first public screening of his film Raja Harishchandra, the publicity posters didn't have any images on them, but that changed soon after. A film's publicity poster also became an extension of the creativity expressed on celluloid and able artists highlighted those selected images from the movie that could draw the audiences to inside the dark theatres for more than two-hours of cinematic mesmerisation.
With time and the advance of technology photographs replaced hand-drawn images on film posters, but somehow photographs seemed to take the fun out of the Bollywood posters. They seemed best hand painted, where the painter did what plastic surgeons failed to, even though nowadays Photoshop is able to replicate much of that. Sometimes the actors are barely recognisable in their hand-drawn avatars and the heroines usually have their curves accentuated. Also some over-imaginative poster artists draw appealing scenes, that to the disappointment of the paying public are not replicated on the big screen.
Hand-drawn posters are a rarity now, only an occasional film uses the style for effect. Here are 50 of the best hand-painted posters that Bollywood had produced since its inception. A salute to an aspect of the art of Indian cinema as it completes a hundred years of its existence.
If you think some other poster deserves to be on this list, let us know in the comments.
Posters of films listed in alphabetical order: