Film posters are integral to the journey of films. In India, right from the silent era to motion pictures, posters have remained a true testimony to the promotions of films. From the black and white to the coloured era, the history of film posters and restoring those has been given due importance. But sadly, few people in the country have taken care of these posters. Kolkata’s very own Sudipta Chanda is one such person with the ‘filmy’ habit of collecting film posters. Make no mistake, he collects the original ones and even conducts special exhibitions commemorating different occasions.
Sudipta Chanda, a young enthusiastic film graduate based in Kolkata, has been collecting film posters and other publicity materials since his childhood days. Chanda has a dazzling collection of vintage film posters ranging from Bengali to Hindi, and Odia to Assamesse, covering a varied range, starting from Uttam-Suchitra to Prosenjit, Pankaj Kumar Mallick, Ashok Kumar to Shahrukh Khan.
Chanda notes, “ I still keep my hobby alive and feel proud whenever I go through my collection. It thrills me. Each and every poster is a great piece of art”.
At present, he has about 2,000 odd original posters in his collection, including some interesting ones like Rajesh Khanna’s popular film Mere Jeevan Saathi with a Gujarati title, Uttam Kumar’s popular film Bandie with an Odia title, acting debuts of Kumar Gaurav, Sunny Deol, Sanjay Dutt, or R.D.Burman, Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s posters as music composers, and even Ray’s iconic Pather Pachali as a directorial first. The list also includes films with prestigious Academy Awards connection like Laagan, Slumdog Millionaire, apart from directorial ventures of some world-class film makers like Satyajit Ray (Pather Panchali, Teen Kanya, Sonar Kella), Tapan Sinha (Kabuliwala, Sagina, Jhinder Bandi), Ritwik Ghatak’s last film Jukti Takko Gappo , Gulzar’s Aandhi, Angoor, Sitara and so on. One must remember that film posters can be seen in different sizes as 20/30.30/40, 2 Sheet and even in 6 Sheet.
Chanda’s initiative is no doubt a brilliant one. After all, in the age of digitisation, most people consider it to be a lost art. Chanda too remarks, “My collection is a tribute to the unsung heroes who painted magic on canvas, made these posters manually. I have already started digitising my entire collection. From Bombay Talkies, New Theatre films to today’s digital age posters — I have mostly concentrated on musicals. I’ve also received an offer for coming up with some thematic books solely on film posters”.
As of now, Chanda has single-handedly showcased two big film poster exhibitions in Kolkata — Bachchan Nama to celebrate Bachchan’s 75th birthday, and Pancham Nama to celebrate R.D. Burman’s 80th birth anniversary. This apart, a calendar has been published on Bengal’s matinee idol Uttam Kumar featuring his film posters and another on Big B is on the verge of its release which will likely feature 50 posters to commemorate his 50 years in the industry.
The film history of India is one aspect which is most neglected. Film posters depict culture, quality of artistry, evolution of printing technology of an era or the gradual transformation. There are several challenges in collecting the film posters. Preserving posters is also a difficult task. Take a bow Sudipta Chanda for your fantastic work!