The lost art of hand-painted posters is getting a new lease of life

It’s been a while since hand-made film posters slipped into oblivion and the cityscape got dotted by hi-tech vinyl posters. The kitsch imagery, bright colours, the drama and accentuated figures are forever etched in our minds but the hands that lent life to them have been forgotten. Strangely, even as kitsch became fashionable, the rat-race to acquire vintage film posters gained momentum spurred by art auctions and exhibitions. But nobody took notice of the practitioners of the art form.

But for somebody like Nida Mahmood who “conjures drama out of mundane things” — her collection ‘High on Chai’ showcased in Wills India Fashion Week in March this year — her venture ‘New India Bioscope Company’ seems like a natural step. Mahmood together with Raul Chandra has set out on a path to bring out a line of furniture, bags, accessories etc., inspired by poster art and thereby rehabilitating the remaining poster artists. Their line is divided into two categories — affordable art and collectors line. While affordable art comprises the prints of graphically created designs inspired by posters, the latter is Mahmood’s premium line where every product has been painted upon by the poster artists.

Passion intact

“We went looking for these artists and found only a handful. The digital posters have rendered them jobless and thus they have taken to odd jobs. Ignored for long, it wasn’t easy for them to trust us at once but the passion was intact,” says Nida pointing at the poster of Amitabh Bachchan starrer super-hit “Deewar”, which she gave to them as a test practice. “Just imagine, the artist has done it after a gap of 15 years. It has come out better than what the original hand-made poster of the film looked like,” adds Chandra.

It was an equally challenging task to work within a small framework and produce relatively smaller images for the artists were used to work on large hoardings. Yet the artists succeed in capturing the fine details. Using their expertise to the maximum, Nida has made value-addition to the repertoire. “We are not picking up old posters completely. The idea is to take the essence of old poster art. We have just turned the images around on their head, there is a serious quirk involved,” says Nida, a product of National Institute of Fashion Technology. So “Don” is recreated as the iconic image of superstar running with his feet planted on a lotus or take for instance the trunk table on which there are three images of Zeenat Aman holding a pistol, each one smaller than the other, with its boundary lined with lotus motifs.

The profits will go to the artists whose names are clearly mentioned on each and every product. “We haven’t tried to hide their names. Each tag has the name, the time taken to make the work, the medium. There are five artists on board now and the numbers will increase with time. We have even set up a fund for them,” says Nida.

The new line will be showcased at the forthcoming WIFW in October and soon the firm will branch out into even films and events.