Old Bollywood Movie Posters: A Gallery of Fading Art

Sholay 1975 Poster

The classic 1975 Sholay film poster epitomizes the wonders of a fading Indian art form.

We now present our coveted collection of old Bollywood movie posters from the 50s, 60s, and 70s! It took us years to hunt some of these posters down. 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.

Colourful, slightly imperfect, and bursting with melodrama, these posters remain coveted treasures of collectors around the world (myself included!). Some artists became well-known for their gift, others remained anonymous, while some great directors like Satyajit Ray occasionally painted his own. Like many fanatics, I’ve gone on a hunt through Bombay’s Chor Bazaar for vintage film posters where prices for authentic classics can range from rs. 8,000 to rs. 25,000! As a film major, I’ve often dreamed of one day owning a house with a giant private movie hall in the basement and I would line the walls with old Bollywood movie posters (I’d make it classy, not tacky, ok??).Β  It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think I’ll have to go with the Pakeezah (1971) poster–it was such an interesting choice to not highlight the mujra aspect, while capturing the essence of that movie so well in their embrace. Which one is YOUR favorite? Leave a comment and let us know!

Everyone see that fancy poster from Jigri Dost (1969)? I have a sad story to share. Two years ago as I was browsing the Urban Outfitters in Harvard Square, I was suddenly struck by this same poster made into canvas art hanging on the wall! The artist had embellished it with gold and other designs to make it an entirely new piece of art. I got so excited, I immediately went to purchase it–and then saw it’s crazy expensive price tag. I needed to eat that month, so I left the store to mull it over. When I came back two weeks later after realizing I couldn’t live without it, the artwork was gone. None of the salespeople knew what I was talking about or where to find it. I am still in search of it today. If anyone has any leads, send us a line!

-Mrs. 55

12 thoughts on “Old Bollywood Movie Posters: A Gallery of Fading Art

  1. As far as not finding your poster, I think this is a DIY project if you try. Posters can be copied onto canvas by many photo shops very well. From there you can add paint splatters and glitter as you see fit as well as adding lettering to your hearts content. I’m sure it will be a very beautiful piece once you frame it and a rather unique piece of art for your house.

  2. Please share some information on where you can look for such wonderful memorabilia online ? I am looking to stock my movie room with some of these posters as well – symbols of a bygone era.


  3. Umrao Jaan doesn’t look like a hand painted poster. Isn’t it ?
    And the most dramatic is “Woh Kaun Thi”‘s poster. It makes a simple and classy suspense movie look like a Ramsay brother’s film. πŸ™‚
    Nice effort. Good luck !

  4. Stumbled upon your blog today and LOVE it. I am a performer and have interest in the Golden age of films and am considerably older than you guys. Yet I am amazed that you, who are from a different generation, have so much interest, passion and insight into this intoxicating time in films.

  5. I wonder if you had come across any Satyajit Roy poster..would love to see some…can totally relate to your Urban outfitters story..has happened to me frequently…lol and probably the same store..the Harvard UO store was particularly good and spend many an evening at the bargain basement…

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