The Hunt for Indian Movie Posters

The Hunt for Indian Movie Posters

"HA HA HA, I got them now!" I shouted into a cardboard tube smelling of India and printer chemicals that contained possibly one of the coolest ideas I've come up with! My very own Indian movie poster -- advertising myself and my good friend-slash-freelance partner Dawn Szombathy.

From the first week I landed in Bangalore Dawn and I started noticing this very unique collection of movie posters plastered to pillars under overpasses, filling in the cracks of cardboard houses atop land fills, smiling at us from a cow shelter, taunting us everywhere we went... one pasted on top of another over and over until the walls seemed to be built of wheat paste posters and nothing else.

After almost a year of asking about the posters, I finally met a guy who knows a guy who knows another guy and managed to put together a scavenger hunt of directions on post-its, then followed them on the back of a motorcycle through a crowd of thousands. I found myself at  a small  print shop in the movie district of Bangalore, where the posters were strewn all about the office. The print shop owner had no idea what I was doing in that part of town, let alone getting all teary-eyed over his prints! I was standing there telling the owner how much I'd been wanting to find these posters, and he was shaking his head, confused. My Hindi friend translated for me as best he could, but it was difficult because he did not speak the local language. I began walking around the back room holding samples up asking, "Can I have (smile)?"  The young office boy immediately began grabbing rolls of samples and let me have one of each, telling me, "This good madame (horizontal head bob)." I gave him some money for all his help and generosity and asked my friend if he would take the owner's phone number.

spikey_weapon_clear.jpgWhen I got back to my apartment I quickly surfed through funny pictures of Dawn and me, came up with a tag line, and picked a domain name. Then I arranged it all on a letter-sized page, and sent it back to the small shop, requesting that they make me a poster in the same style as their own.  Because they could not finish the posters before I got on the plane home, I had to leave without seeing them. Friends from India came to visit and brought my posters in batches (100 prints is the printer's minimum run). They have finally arrived and I am proud to share my collection of Indian B-movie posters along with my own design. The figures are traced in a  cross-hatching style with pencil, then lithographed on newsprint.  Due to the lack of translation with the printer, I do not know how many people actually create the posters or the exact way it is done, but I am hoping to be back in Bangalore by March and I will be visiting my printer friend again. I have all kinds of ideas that I would like to execute with him, and am excited to get them started. But, the question I have now is, what do I do with all these posters?



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Due to popular demand, I will be selling these posters. I am posting the entire collection on Flickr and you can contact me via email at if you too are interested.

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  • Emily Smith

    Shami, if there's any way for you to send us a pic of the Avatar posters, that would be priceless.

    Until then, Kayleigh: best. post. ever. If you find a Rainbow Wolverine on the ground when you're back there, I've got the shipping covered. I have GOT to see that in person!!

  • RoyTalbot

    haha yea it makes me forget how horrible the movie was too!

  • FSKim

    Faaaaaantastic! Superb! Handmade to the max! Upon your return to India, you must get more and make more. If not, your good friend slash partner in crime will be highly disappointed.

  • KMR

    For me, the first poster is the best, classic James Dean pose! There are so many questions to ask about the whole "Culture Evolution" of these posters. Is there more then a few shops creating posters for the same movie? Are they all unique and individual to the shop creating them, or are they approved designs by the promoters? If they are unique to many shops, then each shop must add a regional spin or take on the poster meant to speak to the local neighborhood. How interesting it would be to see side by side comparisons of widely separated experiences (society). Far more revealing of the soul of the street than what can be glimpsed here in the states.

  • Kayleigh Ryley

    Thanks Amanda- they are drawn once and then reproduced on a lithograph - the colors on each one is different though, which made mine really interesting to look at the different levels of blue and yellow and some orange towards the bottom of the stack.

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