Veteran poster-maker Eswar Rao talks about preserving the art of manual poster designing

Eswar Rao is looking forward to Ugadi this year when he will receive the 2011 Nandi award for the best book on Telugu cinema. His book Cinema Poster has over 135 pages dedicated to colour paintings and posters on films. Speaking about the volume of paintings in the book, he says that the published material constitutes a mere one percent of his entire body of work.

Eswar Rao has 47 years of poster-making behind him. He has produced posters for more than 2500 films including 1000 posters in Telugu and 150 in Hindi. He has also produced posters for Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam films.

Born in Palakollu in Andhra Pradesh, Eswar Rao moved to Chennai in the 60s where he designed and made posters until 1967 when he got his first break making a poster for Bapu’s Sakshi starring Krishna and Vijayanirmala.

Eswar Rao recalls working day and night with other artists to finish the posters.

“It wasn’t easy,” he chuckles. Working by hand was perhaps Eswar Rao’s biggest advantage; “The kind of effect that designers get today using big computers, we experimented, using our handiwork. I feel like I achieved a lot more painting manually,” he says.

Eswar Rao has voiced his concern about technology eating away at the artist’s turf, but he is aware that technology has done more good. “It was a difficult job, we had to paint every letter with utmost care.

Computers have made the job easy and saved a lot of time,” he says.

Self-effacing, Eswar Rao mentions that his concern isn’t about preserving just the art of manual poster-making, “Any craft for that matter should be preserved, because human effort makes it special,” he adds.