Variety

Bollywood poster artists re-employed!

Priya Sheth Mumbai | Updated on July 16, 2011

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Ever wanted a bright yellow hand-painted Sholay belt, the minutely painted Mother India sling bag or an ‘angry-young-man' Deewar t-shirt?

Companies selling quirky ‘popular culture' items are offering jobs to the last-era of Bollywood poster painters. “I have almost 12 Bollywood poster painters working for me at present. Most of them had lost their jobs and were doing odd jobs like working at construction sites, living a retired lives in their villages, painting for political rallies,” said Hinesh Jethwani, Founder and Head, Indian Hippy, a collective of the last few remaining Bollywood poster and billboard artists.

Adding a unique charm to one's living room, these hand-painted Bollywood products are available in all shapes and sizes. Be it a wooden painted folding chair, a painted wallet, cushion covers, attractive tea kettle, a wall mural or even a customised hand-painted wedding billboard.

“The painted billboard serves as a backdrop for the reception or wedding. We have supplied billboards to NRI's and foreigners too,” said Jethwani. “The price of the posters varies according to the size, number of faces in the billboard and the number of faces on it,” he added.

Indigreen, on the other hand, offers eco-friendly Bollywood products and accessories. “You will always have a Salman or Mithun fan somewhere. That's why we chose to hire Bollywood poster artists to design our products. Now with so many cult films like Dabangg releasing, the demand has further increased,” said Nidhi Singh, Director, Indigreen. “We have five to six artists working with us and we pay them fairly. Every artist has the potential to earn from Rs 20,000 to Rs 1 lakh,” she adds. Initially, many Bollywood poster artists used to get paid a fixed per square-foot rate for Bollywood banners. “The first banner that I painted was of the Manoj Kumar starer Purab aur Paschim. Back then there was no guarantee of payment and there were many middle men involved. I was paid Rs 2.50 per day,” said Lucas N Mondal, a 69-year-old artist who earns Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 a month today.

“We were forced to stop painting banners after digital printing came about in 1991. Due to lack of work, I had debts amounting to Rs 1 lakh. I could pay off this debt because of this painting opportunity,” said Mr Mondal.

This hand-painted Bollywood merchandise seems to appeal to the youth nowadays. “These items are priced slightly higher than the other printed Bollywood products,” said Mallika Desai, owner, Bliss Store which sells many such Bollywood products. “The demand for such products and quirky accessories is growing by the day,” she added.

While the posters sell at Rs 5000 upwards, T-shirts cost between Rs 1850 and Rs 2800, and bags in the range of Rs 1850- Rs 3500.

Published on July 16, 2011

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