Last week I went in search of the handful of Bollywood poster wholesalers at the somewhat obscure Tilak market near Grant Rd Station in Mumbai. These dealers stock posters of the latest films for advertising use by movie distributors, large and small cinemas and a growing number of small DVD projection halls in villages and slums across the state. They also store a selection of older posters printed from hand-painted originals – though this is very much a secondary trade to their bustling wholesale enterprise.
Abid Hussain Vora is 78 years old and originally came to Mumbai from Bhopal in the hope of becoming a movie actor. Instead he got into film production and later started his movie poster business. Like mine, his all time favourite Bollywood film is Mughal-e-Azam (1960).
Rajesh Vora is the most recent in three generations of poster sellers encompassing 65 years of trade. His grandfather, the late Amrat Lal Vora, used to extract the silver from black & white film strips and later set up their poster business. His father, Chandra Kant Vora, notes that the film industry gives so much to this city and that his enterprise is a “soni ka line” (golden job). His favourite film is Naya Daur (1957).
Mansoor Ali Hussain, now in his 60s, was obsessed with film photos as a child but could not then afford to attend movies. Instead he chose this line which now also employs his son. His favourite film is Sholay (1975).
Today I headed to Chor Bazaar (Thieves Market) to seek out dealers of older, collectable posters. Abu Khan is the youngest in a line of antique traders who have done business here since the late 1800s. They buy posters and other Bollywood ephemera from auction and collectors. His favourite film is Aradhana (1969).
Lastly I enjoyed a fabulous visit to Shahid Mansoori’s shop that I have been frequenting on trips to Mumbai since childhood. At 55 he is the third generation of his family to work at Chor Bazaar. As a child he collected Bollywood images that came with chocolates and ice-creams and later this evolved into frequenting auctions, purchasing from collectors and scooping up the remains from rural cinema closures. Eventually he heeded the advice of friends to start a business and he now has 40 people sourcing items for him across the nation. His son, Wahid, is currently collating material for an upcoming exhibition in France. Mr. Mansoori’s favourite film is Nishant (1975).
A Closet Full of Bollywood (Hindustan Times)
And if Bollywood kitsch is your thing you’ll probably also enjoy
my Backview Bollywood set on Flickr.