Forbidden art: Bollywood adult movie posters on show

August 26th, 2011 - 1:25 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 26 (IANS) A kitsch art showcase of 30 Bollywood adult film posters has brought to the capital snapshots of a forbidden aesthetics of the Indian movie industry that had been buried for decades.

The exposition, titled “Morning Show”, is symbolic of the secret draw of the 10 a.m. pornographic movies that are still screened in small theatres across India, said curator of the exhibition V. Sunil, an ace designer, artist and adman.

The morning shows are an industry in themselves, pulling crowds from among the adventurous early office goers, daily wage labourers, errant students, petty traders and inhabitants of the urban underbelly.

The exhibition, sourced from the personal collection of V. Sunil, has been presented by the Wieden + Kennedy’s Art.

“It is a tribute to the dying breed of movie poster artists of Mumbai and other small towns,” V.Sunil of Wieden+Kennedy’s Art told IANS.

The art of film posters painting is fighting a losing war in an age of photoshop and digital screens. The new technology has replaced legacies of accomplished artists like M.F. Husain, who began his career in Mumbai as a movie poster artist.

Sunil, a self-taught artist, who had begun his career as a mechanic and apprentice in Kerala and Bangalore, had been collecting the posters for the last 10 years.

Sunil described the exhibition as the first of its kind.

“None of the posters are alike; each one is distinctive in its choice of fonts and art work because they were manually drawn. In contrast, now every movie poster looks alike,” Sunil said.

The posters painted in vibrant water and poster colours are crude; often imitations of pornographic movie stills of the West. But the figures are life-like with an animated quality to them. The accompanying texts are explicit and titillating; designed to attract crowd. They are at times garish, but the figures - usually of a man and woman, capture human emotions like lust, contempt and wit.

The movies bear suggestive names like “Saali Puri Gharwali” and “Tera Tota, Mera Maina” to reflect the rustic flavour of rural India, the core audience of the 10 a.m. screenings.

The designer said that “traditional Bollywood posters have become cult design objects and are collected the world over”.

“But adult movie posters have been largely ignored. They have an aesthetics of their own. With a visual language that is at times daring, at times naive, these posters echo the kitsch (bohemian) imagery of Indian movie posters and sexuality which as a subject is taboo in India despite its many manifestations in social and cultural life,” Sunil said.

But as an underground thriving design form, adult movie posters, along with the large volume of pictorial pornographic literature, address the Indian society’s forbidden fantasies which are often difficult for young couples to play out in the strict confines of joint family systems, he said.

The exhibition is open to the public till Sep 17.

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