A hundred years ago when Dhundiraj Govind Phalke organised the first public screening of his film Raja Harishchandra, the publicity posters didn’t have any images on them, but that changed soon after. A film’s publicity poster also became an extension of the creativity expressed on celluloid and able artists highlighted those selected images from the movie that could draw the audiences to inside the dark theatres for more than two-hours of cinematic mesmerisation.
The vintage art of the hand-painted film poster is dying–gone are the days when a single artist would paint by hand the latest Rajesh Khanna hit across a busy Bombay street wall. Now most film poster art is done entirely digitally using stills from the film itself or publicity photos enhanced by the computers. But the charm of the old Bollywood movie poster still prevails.
With time and the advance of technology photographs replaced hand-drawn images on film posters, but somehow photographs seemed to take the fun out of the Bollywood posters. They seemed best hand painted, where the painter did what plastic surgeons failed to, even though nowadays Photoshop is able to replicate much of that. Sometimes the actors are barely recognisable in their hand-drawn avatars and the heroines usually have their curves accentuated.Also some over-imaginative poster artists draw appealing scenes, that to the disappointment of the paying public are not replicated on the big screen.
Hand-drawn posters are a rarity now, only an occasional film uses the style for effect.