FRIDAY REVIEW

The passionate poster-wallah

More than leisureS.M.Ausaja with his film poster collection.

More than leisureS.M.Ausaja with his film poster collection.  

SURESH KOHLI

His weakness for film posters is as great as his love for the Big B, on whom the young film historian S.M. Ausaja is penning a book.

It was not very long ago that producers did not know what to do with the left out posters of their films after the film became a hit or a flop. Packets and rolls were dumped atop steel cupboards, in the kitchens and bathrooms, or just dumped in the godowns belonging to big production houses where they gathered dust until the moth-eaten big paper sheets were sold either in raddi or thrown away in garbage dumps.

But now suddenly that golden nostalgia stuff has become gold, reminding one of the grandmother’s advice: “Never throw away the memorabilia. It is precious stuff.” Those old movie posters are now being sold for lakhs in the international market. And sundry collectors are laughing all the way to the bank. With many of these collectors it started as a hobby which has suddenly become a profession. Some nurse this nostalgia with pride, others are already selling the fare in the market.

S.M. Ausaja, who belongs to the former, had been a film buff right from his college days in Lucknow from where he wrote on cinema from early on for almost all the major newspapers and periodicals in the country before moving to the tinsel town in 1996. One of his earliest acquaintances was Javed Akhtar who introduced him to Mahesh Bhatt and Amit Khanna who were then playing havoc with Plus Channel. Learning on job during the making of the country’s first English language soap, ‘A Mouthful of Sky’, Ausaja then moved quick and fast, and there was no going back.

Huge collection

Going back in time, Ausaja who has an enviable personal collection of over 5000 hand painted posters, says: “My interest in cinema was due to the Amitabh Bachchan magic in the ‘70s. I began collecting his posters and other material in 1982 as a hobby. It expanded soon and I began to collect all classics. In Mumbai the collection further expanded when I included LP records, song and film booklets, lobby and show cards, black and white as well as colour photographs, slides, magazine covers, etc. I have over 3000 LP records in my condition, which encompasses everything filmy from 1931-2008. But my prized and proud possession is Diwakar Kirkire’s poster of Amitabh Bachchan in a standing posture wearing a red shirt.”

But then that’s not about all. His passion for everything Bachchanish eventually paved the way for the inevitable meeting with the Big B during the Vijay show in Srinagar where he performed with other artistes and this led to an undefined relationship. The result? Ausaja is now working on a definitive book called Bachchans starting with his father Harivanshrai, from the day a Srivastava became a Bachchan in Allahabad. Needless to say, the book has Big B’s support and is expected to be released on his next birthday in October this year. “And with the media naming me as India’s youngest film historian, apart from the book on the Bachchans I am beginning to flirt with more books on cinema. The first of these will be Bollywood in Posters.”



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