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??).  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