“A poster is the menu card of a movie”
“A poster is the menu card of a movie”
From the 1950s to the 1990s there were two types of posters – hand painted and illustrated
He started with Lily Talkies in Dinajpur where he worked on posters or show cards for films shot in Kolkata or Bombay (now Mumbai).
In 1951 he moved to Bombay and started working for an advertising agency called Pamart.
There, Marathi artists made posters, banners, display cards or booklets in watercolour, spray can, pencil and charcoal. In no time, Subhash has mastered the process and the style.
Later he came to Dhaka in 1953 and got a job with Evergreen Publicity with a salary of Tk 110. After some time, along with three non-Bangalee, Subhash started an advertising house called Kamart in 1955.
He appeared in a few other films, including Rajdhanir Buke (1960), Harano Din (1961), Binimoy (1970), Suryakanya (1976), Bashundhara (1977) and Rupali Saikate (1979).
Subhash has also designed the posters for all the films he has made.
Three other poster artists
Azizur Rahman and Nitun Kundu are also among the first generation poster artists. Nitun Kundu is the designer of some modern sculptures in the country including the Saarc fountain in Dhaka. He is also the founder of Otobi, a popular furniture manufacturer in the country.
Subhash Dutt brought Nitun Kundu to Dhaka and got him a job with Evergreen Publicity. Recognizing his talent in painting, Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin admitted him to the Art College.
Azizur Rahman also studied at Art College, but movies were an addiction for him. He stood and stared at movie posters for a long time. He then became a well-known director and producer in the country.
Advertising houses of the time also designed labels for bidis, cigarettes and essential oils as well as different types of signs. Non-Banganese Muslims from India have also joined the advertising houses. Two brothers, Ladla and Dularawere, were among them.
There were three groups of commercial artists in Dhaka in the 1960s. One group designed movie posters, the other drew movie banners and paintings, and the third painted on rickshaws or trucks.
Among the most famous poster artists of the 60s is Girin Das, whose master was Gulfam. Girin Das also influenced the movie posters of the 70s and 80s. He designed the posters for many prominent movies such as Jowar Elo (1962), Nayantara (1967), Abujh Mon (1972), Alor Michil (1974) , Sujan Sakhi (1975), Dasyu Banahur (1978), Altabanu (1982) and Beder Meye Josna (1989).
The way the posters were made
From the 1950s to the 1990s, there are two types of posters: hand-painted and illustrated. It took a long time to make a hand painted poster. Very interesting is Beder Meye’s hand painted poster of Zaheer Raihan, featuring Azim, Sujata and Rosy. Only these three actors are on the poster. The faces of Azim and Sujata have been drawn at the top while Rosy stands at the bottom right with a snake cage on her head. The words Beder Meye appear to have been printed by being cut out of tin. The poster can be seen on the wall on the second floor of the Bangladesh Film Archive in Agargaon. In this open gallery, posters of Jibon Theke Neya, Devdas and Beder Meye Josnacan can also be seen.
The so-called illustration posters were a combination of photography and drawing. After laying out the poster on a hardboard, the photos of the actors were put on it. Then the artist painted the empty space and the background. However, as still photos were enlarged for posters, painters used to use pen and ink on the eyes, faces, noses, or clothing of heroes and heroines.
Watercolors were usually used in the background. The black and white steel photos were then painted with transparent colors. At that time, the artists enjoyed complete freedom in the design of the poster.
In the book Bangladesher Cholochitro Posterer Biborton, published by Bangladesh Film Archive and written by Mohammad Mosharraf Hossain and Tania Sultana, director Matin Rahman says, “Posters are meant to tell the story of the film to the audience. sometimes the director even used to freeze a shot to use in a poster.
Famous advertising houses in Dhaka at that time were Evergreen, Jupiter, Allied and Chitrokor.
Poster printing was a difficult task before the independence of the country. Once the poster was designed, it was put on a board and photographed with a camera. Then the negative became positive. The camera film negative was black and white. In the case of the color posters, filters were used on the negatives. Different colors have been added to the posters using different color filters. For example, if it was a four-color poster, the negative was first made with a red filter. The other colors did not come in the negative. Then one by one the filters of different colors were used.
The poster paper size was 23 inches by 36 inches. There was no film to capture something so big on camera. So when the negative was made positive, it was split into upper and lower parts.
Offset printing was first introduced to the country in 1965 by an Imdadul Huq through his Imart printing company. Previously, offset printing was done in Kolkata. Posters shone brighter when printed in offset. The Urdu film poster Poonam Ki Raat (1966) was first printed in offset by Bidesh Kumar Dhar. Dhar said, “Imdadul Haque could print just like an artist designed a poster. His printing ideas were wonderful. However, the press didn’t last long because it was very expensive.”
Static images were often used in posters of the 50s and 60s and there weren’t many characters.
Speaking of the Chanda (1962) poster, Azizur Rahman recalled, “The poster was made centering the young lovers of the film, and at the bottom the villain’s photo was used. But the movie is about a woman named Chanda who was missing from the show. At that time, artists enjoyed greater freedom.”
Few films were released in the fifties and sixties. A total of 400 or 500 posters were made for one movie, costing 50-100 Tk. The total number of movies released between 1956 and 1971 is 208. Later famous painters like Murtaza Bashir, Qayyum Chowdhury and Hashem Khan also painted movie posters.
The disciple of Girin Das
Movie posters were not the only publicity tool. Producers also made lobbying cards or press cards. Azizur Rahman promoted his film on a matchbox.
The movie names were also printed on polybags and distributed in the market.
During the 1960s and 1970s, a book was available outside of movie theaters containing the songs and plots for each film. The names of actors and other people associated with the film were also included in the book.
Audiences could buy the books before or after watching the films.
Bidesh Kumar Dhar popularly known as BKD and disciple of Girin Das is considered the pioneer of the movie poster industry. He has worked in the field since 1965.
His maternal uncle was Pitalram Sur, one of the first film mural painters made in Dhaka. BKD learned oil painting from his uncle. He learned watercolor in Jyotirmoy Sur and Girin Das taught him how to combine everything. He entered the world of cinema in 1961. From 1965, he himself became a master. He did not want to leave the country in 1971, but was eventually forced to leave by his family. However, this was on the condition that if the country became independent, there would not be a single day left in India.
While in Kolkata during the Liberation War, he continued to paint. He designed a puja mandap which received the Swarna Kamal in West Bengal.
BKD designed many movie posters including Alibaba (1967), Alo Tumi Aleya (1975), Manihar (1976), Anarkali (1980), Alif Laila (1980), Laili Majnu (1983), Awara (1985), Balyasiksha ( 1986), Aina Bibir Pala (1991) and Danga (1992).
His film poster Manihar has been repeatedly falsified as an election poster.