In recent years the exciting world of Bollywood cinema has been slowly gaining the interest and admiration of western audiences. The popularity of Danny Boyle’s Oscar winning film SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (2008) along with the rising interest in Indian actors like Naveen Andrews (LOST, BRIDE & PREJUDICE, THE ENGLISH PATIENT, BOMBAY BOYS, etc.) seems to have gained Bollywood movies a larger American audience that is willing to put aside cultural differences and embrace the many pleasures of Bollywood cinema. And one of the most wonderful aspects of Bollywood cinema is the colorful movie posters created to advertise these film.
Many of the posters made for modern films in India are now produced with digital technology but for over 70 years Indian artists hand-painted their designs. These provocative works of art became an important part of the country’s urban landscape and transformed the city streets into art galleries that promised the possibility of romance and adventure to millions of would-be viewers. The Indian people love movies with an almost manic intensity and India releases more films every year than any other country in the world. The beautiful and stylized posters that advertise Bollywood films are an expression of India’s culture and rich history.
These eye-popping designs have often found their way into various books but information about the artists who created them as well as the films they advertise has been lacking. I own a few Bollywood poster books myself and although I’ve enjoyed these collections in the past I’ve also occasionally found them frustrating and repetitive. Thankfully the award-winning publisher Taschen has stepped up to the plate and released their own collection of Bollywood poster art and it might be the best book yet to explore this fascinating topic.
The Art of Bollywood was compiled by Indian film poster collector Edo Bouman, along with filmmaker and writer Rajesh Devraj and longtime Taschen editor Paul Duncan in collaboration with the National Film Archive of India. This impressive collection contains over 190 pages of movie poster designs from a wide variety of Bollywood pictures that is sure to surprise and delight film lovers. The book is loaded with information and intriguing facts about the artists who created these amazing works of art and the films they represent. From the art deco inspired designs of the 1930s to the action-packed posters created in the 1980s, The Art of Bollywood features many rare and rarely seen posters that have often been overlooked by similar publications. But this impressive book isn’t just limited to poster art. It also details the history of film publicity in India and includes film stills as well as samples of album cover art. Music is an integral part of every Bollywood film and the songs that accompany each release account for much of the movie’s appeal so I was happy to discover that this topic is examined in The Art of Bollywood.
If you’re only familiar with the romantic dramas produced in India you might be surprised to learn that Bollywood films are as diverse and varied as the Indian people themselves. The Art of Bollywood does a great job of highlighting lessor known sub-genres including Bollywood westerns, horror films, crime movies and various action pictures such as the popular Indian Tarzan films that don’t get much attention in the US.
Finding information about Bollywood movies isn’t always easy and it can be difficult for potential viewers to track-down films that may interest them. The book provides a nice jumping-off point for anyone curious about Indian films but it’s also a treat for longtime fans who are eager to know more about the fascinating history of Bollywood cinema. This beautifully designed coffee table book retails for $29.99 and should be available at better bookstores.
If you’re on the East Coast you might want to consider attending the Bollywood and Anime in America event taking place at the American Museum of Natural History this weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, April 17 – 18, the American Museum of Natural History will be showing the Bollywood sports film CHAKADE! INDIA (2007) and the Jane Austen inspired romance BRIDE & PREJUDICE (2004). The museum will also feature Bollywood dance performances, workshops and a lecture with the independent Bollywood film critic Aseem Chhabra along with other professionals. This event is free to the public with museum admission. For more information please see the American Museum of Natural History website.
by Kimberly Lindbergs, originally written in 2010 and published on TCM.com