Bombay Showcase

India’s famous poster boys

EMPTY PALETTE:K Chinappa at his studio in Bengaluru.— Photo: Special arrangement  

We were the first ones to write about it. A rough cut of In search of Fading Canvas was first screened at the second edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014 as part of the Artists’ Cinema section, curated by film-critic CS Venkiteswaran. The one-and-a-half-hour documentary has gone on to win a Special Jury Award in the 63rd edition of the National Film Awards announced recently. Directed by Manohar Singh Bisht, the documentary has been created for the Films Division of India, and deals with the disappearance of painted cinema hoardings and their replacement by vinyl and flex prints.

The evocative short successfully manages to bring out the pathos of artists who delighted cinema buffs for decades with their masterful creations but are now languishing in obscurity. The film covers Delhi, Guwahati, Kolkata, Pune, Mumbai, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Chennai. It effectively brings to the forefront the poster boys of yore like D Ambaji, Balkrishna, Satish, Ramachandran, Diwakar Karkare, Parvez, S Rehman, G Kamble, Chityal Vinoba Ambaji and K Chinappa. The latter, a veteran artist, has made a comeback this year (after shuttering his business due to financial loss) and has started to paint film posters and cut-outs of Kannada film stars once again.

In this poignant short, Bisht portrays these masters in their homes recollecting their work, technique and days of glory. Satish, a 90-year-old artist, has done the banners of classics like Aan , Parwana and Madhumati . He speaks about loneliness whereas S Rehman, one of the last practising poster artists in Mumbai is shown giving instructions to assistants to fill in colour. Rehman works with Alfred Theatre on Grant Road and reveals that he still has work because the owner of Alfred Theatre is himself an artist and thus respects artists.

Karkare recollects how he created Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan’s famous rugged look by painting with a knife to manifest the actor’s angry-young persona that was developed by Salim-Javed. Parvez, who once ruled the banner industry in Lucknow, is now surviving by painting the number plates of bikes.

The film is produced by VS Kundu and shot by Nagaraj Revenkar.

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 5:32:36 AM |

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