Last week I had a great visit back to Toronto, where I’m originally from. Had lots of time with family and friends, and through a few encounters and events, I was reminded that Toronto is a very creative city, with a lot of creative people, with a lot of amazing creative energy.
My sister Tania always reminds me of this with her wonderful, eclectic illustration work, but one other encounter did too. My new friend Dave Trattles, a very talented social documentary photographer who has spent a lot of time in India, had me over to his studio, and took me through his massive, wonderful collection of vintage Bollywood posters.
As you may know, India produces more films per year than Hollywood, and has done for some time. Hardly a new industry, India has been producing films on a grand scale since the 1930s. Dave’s collection features posters mainly from the 1960′s and 1970′s and many clearly show the influences of American genres including crime, horror, westerns, blaxploitation, as well their more home-grown elaborate musicals and melodramas. There are even “modified” versions of European posters, where nudity has been carefully “corrected” with painted on clothing!
Stylistically, the far-reaching influences I detected ranged from Russian Constructivism, early 20th century German film posters (Fritz Lang’s M), Paul Rand’s hand made compositions, American surf movie posters, blaxplotation movie posters, DC comics, on and on.
I just had to photograph (badly) some of Dave’s posters because, not only are the illustrations, compositions and colours wonderful, but the typography (both Hindi, Bengali [ed. thanks to kd for correcting me] and English) is equally beautiful and imaginative. I was even lucky enough to buy a few of the ones he had multiples of. Enjoy this small survey, and thanks Dave. Keep it up, and consider that Bollywood poster gallery! Here’s a video about one of Dave Trattle’s photo projects: The Boxing Ladies.