Kolkata’s poster boy

Tirthankar Das
Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Sudipta Chanda is passionately collecting film posters because he thinks they are works of art and should reach more people

I consider a film poster a piece of art. It must be preserved for the next generations. It tells about our tastes, culture, quality of artistry, and evolution of printing technology and also serve as one of the very important documents for film studies. It’s necessary to know our past in any social structure. Besides, all these posters are eye catching,” asserts Sudipta Chanda, a 38-year-old man from Kolkata, popularly called a ‘poster boy’. 

This resident of Bhowanipore has an immense soft spot for collecting vintage film posters and other publicity materials since his college days. A big music lover, Chanda comes from Mass Communication background. He has even organised two big exhibitions in Kolkata, namely Bachchan Nama, to celebrate Amitabh Bachchan’s 75th birthday and Pancham Nama, to celebrate R D Burman’s 80th birthday in the recent past. Now, he is all set to release a special calendar comprising Big B’s film posters commemorating the living legend’s 50 years in the industry. 

“The collection of posters is a tribute to the unsung heroes who have created some magic on canvas, made those posters manually,” quips Chanda. He has a dazzling collection of 2000 odd original film posters ranging from Bengali to Hindi and Odiya to Assamese, as also posters of artists like Uttam Kumar, Suchitra Sen, Prosenjit, Pankaj Kumar Mallick, Ashok Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan and so on. 

Some of the interesting posters in his collection include Rajesh Khanna’s popular film Mere Jeevansaathi with a Gujarati title, Uttam Kumar’s popular film Bandie with an Odiya title, debut films of Kumar Gaurav, Sunny Deol, Sanjay Dutt, R D Burman, Laxmikant-Pyarelal and so on. Films having prestigious Oscar connection like Lagaan, Slumdog Millionaire feature in his collection besides directorial ventures of world class filmmakers like Satyajit Ray (Pather Panchali, Teen Kanya, Sonar Kella), Tapan Sinha (Kabuliwala, Sagina, Jhinder Bandi), Ritwik Ghatak’s last film Jukti Takko Gappo, Gulzar’s Aandhi, Angoor, Sitara and so on. 

Says Chanda, “I still keep my hobby alive and feel proud whenever I go through my collection. It thrills me. Each and every poster is a great piece of art.” 

The posters can be seen in different sizes as 20/30, 30/40, 2 Sheet, even 6 Sheet. “Those were the days when artists used to draw posters manually and lithography was the only method of printing posters. To draw people’s attention, different designs were used for the posters of the same film. These are a collector’s delight. And they are very rare nowadays. I have already started digitising my collection. From Bombay Talkies, new theatre films to today’s digital age posters, I have concentrated on musicals mostly,” says Chanda. 

He has also got an offer for creating a thematic book on film posters. He feels, “Today’s young generation is hardly interested in dedicating time to hobbies and they spend a lot of time on social media. It  makes their life mechanical. That’s why I feel we must have a hobby that can refresh our mind and soul.”

Chanda is quite passionate about his ‘treasure’. Procuring these posters is often a task for him because of their limited availability. “As far as the original posters are concerned, getting them after a period of time is very tough and that makes them highly expensive too. Also, most of the old film distributors have shut down their businesses, hence the sources are very limited. Preserving these posters is also a tricky task. There are chances of the old papers getting damaged during handling. So one has to be very careful,” he cautions.  

Chanda started collecting from a few old film distributors in Kolkata and bought his first poster while in college, back in the year 2000. “It was the poster of Big B’s The Great Gambler. “Lithographed posters were not in vogue in those days. Digitally processed posters were already introduced at that time. Gradually, I came to know about some of the noted old film distributors from the city like Daga Films, Rajashree, Musicals and so on. But after some time, I realised that there was nothing left for me to find in the city, so I started sourcing posters from Mumbai, Delhi and so on,” he adds.  

Some publications have already approached him to come up with some film publicity-related books. And he also plans to host more exhibitions in the near future.

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