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Bollywood Poster-wallas

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).
Related articles:
Viva Vernacular
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.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Debojit Ghatak December 4, 2009, 7:18 AM

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece. Even Delhi is full of such posterwallahs.

  • unnikrishna menon damodaran December 4, 2009, 6:26 PM

    amazing! enterprising and self-employed. and am sure they love their job.

  • Sumit Raj Vashisht August 11, 2012, 12:52 AM

    Excellent. I have been watching bollywood movies since my childhood but never thought of collecting posters. Although I have many memories of them in my store house.

  • Abhishek August 28, 2012, 5:48 AM

    Great stuff! Anyone know where can I find these poster wallahs in Delhi? I have a Bollywood themed restaurant opening very soon

  • Meena Kadri August 28, 2012, 9:52 AM

    Abhishek – you can get copies and some originals at Haus Khaz Village. Good luck!

  • Natascha July 1, 2013, 4:31 AM

    Do you know the actress’ name of the first picture and the movie? I really like this picture and think about getting it as a poster/picture. Thank you :-)

  • Meena Kadri July 1, 2013, 11:02 AM

    Hi Natascha – you can view more details over on this image on my Flickr page. Hope that helps.

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