‘Wow, a full blown voluminous book about Bollywood posters’ – That’s how you immediately exclaim once it is brought to your notice that a book called ‘Bollywood In
Posters’, which claims to take it’s readers through the nostalgic journey of evolution of posters from 30s till the current times, has hit the stands.
So what if around a year back, a book based on the similar concept – ‘Bollywood Posters’ [by Sheena Sippy and Jerry Pinto] – had already hit the stands! You still wish to
find what SMM Ausaja, a film enthusiast and historian, all of 40 years of age, has to present in this book which comes with the ever so memorable poster from Barsaat with Raj Kapoor holding Nargis. Now this was the beginning of it all and while relationships have moved on to being true platonic today (let’s wake up to
Wake Up Sid!), the sheer intensity of Barsaat still works good enough to make you turn those 270 odd pages that follow.
First things first, ‘Bollywood in Posters’ is enticing enough to make you drop everything and go for the kill, mainly because of the brilliant packaging. The book is heavy,
voluminous, colourful, glossy and has quality dripping page after page, hence making you quite sure that the author as well as the publishing house left no stones unturned
to make the book at least ‘look’ excellent even by international standards. The design is done quite well too with each of the 250 odd posters finding good prominence. In fact
most of the known movies enjoy a full page spread for them.
Ausaja doesn’t just leave the posters for readers to gaze at. He also provides details (other than basic cast and crew) like the film’s genre, famous songs, synopsis/trivia and
also some prominent awards that it may have earned. Due to these reasons, on the face value at least, ‘Bollywood in Posters’ sounds like a good experience in the waiting.
However, the book doesn’t quite turn out to be excellent, must read or belonging to ‘can’t put it down’ kind of variety. There are two major reasons for that:
a) There isn’t any ‘surprise element’ in those hundreds of posters that you get to explore in the book. Sholay, Dil Chahta Hai, Mother India, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun,
Mughal-E-Azam or Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge – Now these are the kind of posters that you would anyways expect in a book belonging to this subject. Nothing
wrong with that but then when one pays a huge sum of money to get hold of a book like this, one expects something that belongs to ‘never seen before’ variety. For
example, in Sheena-Jerry created ‘Bollywood Posters’, there were posters of films like Rocket Tarzan, Sindbad Alibaba Aladin, Kaala Jadoo or Bollywood’s own
Zorro that had resulted in an immediate reaction of ‘Now what’s that!’. There aren’t any such reactions when you turn pages of Ausaja’s ‘Bollywood In Posters’.
b) The written material about each of the films in posters doesn’t quite make you jump with excitement. The trivia mostly belongs to the kind that a core Bollywood buff would
have anyways known. Moreover, the list of Filmfare awards for most of the films just seems like a quick way out of getting some basic text in place. First and foremost, it is
easy information to lay your hands on and secondly, it only becomes monotonous after a point in time. To think about it, when you are going through a book about posters,
would you really be interested in knowing that in which year did Amitabh Bachchan actually go on to win his first Filmfare award?
These are the reasons due to which the book doesn’t enter the league of very good or excellent read. Also, one wishes though that Ausaja as well as the publishing house
were a little more careful around the correctness of the trivia.
Picture this: Alongside the poster of Aakhree Rasta , it is written that in this film featured Amitabh Bachchan and Sridevi together for the first time. Wrong
information, because way back in 1984, they had also come together in Inquilab. Also, for the write up of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…., there is a mention of
appearance in the film) too finds a mention in this ‘elite’ list of actors, surprisingly Kareena Kapoor is nowhere mentioned!
However, leaving aside such minor aberrations, the text is consistent on every page. ‘Bollywood in Posters’ is a good buy for those who haven’t owned a book on Bollywood
history before and would possibly be spending good money for the first time on a book revolving around posters. Also, if you belong to the kind of film enthusiasts who wish
to have a book like this neatly stacked in your book shelf or placed in a living room; it won’t quite harm your reputation of being a true blue Bollywood buff.
Price: Rs. 2500/=