Bolly good: The vivid posters that take Mumbai’s movies to the masses By Andrew Buncombe ( article courtesy

The area of South Delhi known as Hauz Khas village is a window-shopper’s delight, a haven of quiet but expensive arts and antiques shops, restaurants and galleries. Nothing beats diving into one of the shops that specialises in the promotional posters for Hindi-language movies. These posters – vibrant, powerful, often amusing – represent art and advertising combined in one. From the hits of the Fifties right up to the current crop of Indian films such as Om Shanti Om, the posters are a joy. “My favourites are from the Sixties and Seventies,” says Deepak Jain, owner of one of the basement shops, which is full of original posters, with just the faintest hint of authentic yellow age around the edges. “They are more colourful and there are more actors advertised. This was the golden age of Hindi movies and people were taking more notice of the actors and actresses. People were trying to copy them, to wear the same clothes.” Of course, just as with the movies, people have their individual favourites when it comes to posters. But Mr Jain reckons there are three bestsellers, the 1960 epic Mughal-e-Azam, which was the most expensive movie of its day, Pakeezah and Mother India. The promotional poster for the last of these is particularly striking. The 1957 tale of rural poverty and personal pride directed by Mehboob Khan, starred Nargis Dutt, Sunil Dutt and Rajendra Kumar and was nominated for an Oscar as best foreign-language movie. The heroine was played by Ms Dutt (known usually simply as Nargis) and the poster shows her wearing a purple sari while toiling to carry a plough on her shoulders. For all its resonance for an India that had won independence just 10 years earlier, there is an undoubted dash of Communist struggle about the image. In the background, behind Nargis’ shoulder, is a field of cattle – a symbol perhaps of both the country’s agricultural strength and its religious convictions. Another striking poster is that for the movie Sholay (“Flames”), a so-called Hindi western that remains the highest-grossing Indian movie of all time. The 1975 blockbuster, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini and Sanjeev Kumar and directed by Ramesh Sippy, ran for a straight 286 weeks as its popularity grew by word of mouth. Though industry experts feared it would be a flop, it went on to earn the equivalent of £30m. Unlike the film’s naysayers, those involved in its promotion appear to have realised early on they were on to a good thing. The poster, in vibrant orange and yellow, declares: “The biggest star cast ever assembled, the greatest story every told.” With lines such as that, who could afford not to make a visit to the cinema to discover if it was true? Another eye-catcher is the poster for the 1964 classic Sangam, starring and directed by Raj Kapoor. The movie broke new ground, filming many of its song and dance routines in exotic locations – Venice, Paris and Switzerland – and establishing a practice that is now commonplace for Bollywood films. (  Dostana, featuring Shilpa Shetty, continues the tradition, as the first Hindi movie filmed entirely in Miami.) And who could resist the poster for Warrant, the 1975 movie directed by Pramod Chakravorty? Starring Dev Anand and the striking Zeenat Aman, it features a tough-looking Mr Anand clutching a revolver while Ms Aman burns in a bright red bikini top. But in case you’re inspired to start a collection yourself, be warned. “Until just a few years ago it used to be very easy to lay your hands on these posters,” says Mr Jain. “But now more collectors and dealers are starting to take an interest. They are starting to snap them up.(” ‘Bollywood Posters’ by Jerry Pinto and Sheena Sippy is published by Thames & Hudson, £19.95)