As the year comes to an end, one is flooded with “Lists”. The best & the worst, the most defining, the most underrated, the highs, the lows… It’s a good way to look back & see the stories that unfolded, what stayed with us, what faded away. So when I was asked to put down a list of my favorite cinema posters from 2014… I definitely had a task on hand… I had to pull out 10 from a nation than produces more a thousand odd films each year… We all remember the films that leave behind an impression… But how many of us remember the art that went behind the posters?
These 10 visually imaginative posters have been culled out based on their artistic flair, offbeat approaches in conceptualization, exemplary design & layout, in certain cases the use of typography ~ overall impacting the visual representation of the film.
In the last few years we have seen a resurrection of sorts within the Marathi film industry. Breaking geographical barriers yet rooted within its cultural & social milieu, some of these films have been at par with the best in world cinema. We see similar sensibilities extending into their poster art as well. Sujay Dahake’s Ajoba, based on true events is a journey tracking a leopard who treks a distance of 120kms from Malshej to Mumbai before being rescued & released back into the wild. This is one of the early posters before the theatrical release of the film which had caught my attention. A lone cat looking into the brooding urbanscape, with thick dark clouds looming overhead, sets a perfect tone for a cinematic adventure. It’s often a challenge to design a gripping poster with no known faces ~ Here ‘Ajoba’ the lost leopard makes up for it impressively… The use of the paw within the title design makes it furthermore striking.
2. ANKHON DEKHI
Is a film that left a lasting impression on me. Rajat Kap00r takes us into the mind of Bauji, probably one of the best performances of this year by Sanjay Mishra. And as one meanders through the cramped bylanes of Old Delhi, one is reminded to make the inward journey, compelling us to find our own truth, our own realities. When the poster of Ankhon Dekhi was released, it filled me with a deep sense of intrigue… The vast spread of cobalt, the floating cloud & an old man with a Mandala as a halo behind his head… One rarely sees such subtle approaches to poster design these days, which could be visually engaging & equally thought provoking at many levels. Created by Murali & Rachna’s multidisciplinary design studio, Xheight… The Ankhon Dekhi poster is worth any empty wall within your mind space. Truth does need a daily reminder…
3. APUR PANCHALI
If you haven’t seen this subtle and highly nuanced story that follows the life of Subir Banerjee, the actor who endearingly played Apu in Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali then you’ve missed one of the most heart warming films of this year. Painted in vivid strokes, Kaushik Ganguly gives a timeless tale, textured with any emotions. The sepia tinted poster is seeped in nostalgia, taking us on a journey into Subir’s life… It’s layered with a sense of anxiety & uncertainty, feelings that we usually experience as we embark upon the defining journeys of our Life. Designed by Calcutta based A Grinning Tree Production, the poster reminded me of the frugal nature of art that was employed so subtly yet effectively by Ray himself. The Song of Apu is both a cinematic ode to the master and a tune that’ll stay with you.
4. BHOPAL A PRAYER FOR RAIN
A film on one of the most heinous of corporate crimes ever, one of the largest industrial disasters, a grim tale of human tragedy. Set around the fateful night of 2nd December 1984, the film is a compelling reminder of apathy, greed, malice, & negligence. Bhopal a Prayer for rain is centered around a naïve rickshaw-puller Dilip, played to the bone by Rajpal Yadav who turns a Carbider to save his family from starving. The poster designed by Raj Khatri, Art Director at Bollywood’s most sought after creative agencies; Marching Ants is a gritty portrait of the protagonist blending into the ghostly landscape of the Union Carbide factory. It almost gives us a face to the horrific catastrophe. In spite of being subtly dramatic, it’s probably one of the most hard hitting posters of the year. Don’t forget to look at some of the other posters designed by Raj… City of Gold, Shor in the City & Udaan sit within my favorites.
Inspired by real trials in the city of Mumbai, Chaitanya Tamhane’s directorial debut subtly rips open the decadent judicial system through an understated commentary on class, politics, and power, unravelling the many layers within which our dysfunctional judiciary thrives. This multi-award winning & highly acclaimed film is yet to have a theatrical release in India, yet the first look of the poster was strong enough to hold my attention. Almost Kafkasque in treatment, painted in watery shades and hues of grey, the searing portrait of one of the characters, Narayan Kamble, becomes unforgettable… It also subtly signifies the many greys, the muted, muffled tones, the ambiguities within which our judicial apparatus operates.
This audacious Tamil musical gangster named after a popular beverage in Madurai was a scorcher at the box-office. Heavily inspired by Quentin Tarantino, Karthik Subburaj excels in subverting a gangster flick as a comedy caper. The poster design is as intrepid as the treatment of film, painted in bold, unabashed strokes of shocking pink & neon aqua. A colour combination that’s rarely used to such an impact along with the use of hand-drawn charcoal ~ making the poster not only visually striking but also highly stylistic, pop & graphic in nature. It immediately reminded me of the cheap litho-print cinema posters of 80’s which borrowed heavily from street art.
Directed by Deepti Kakkar & Fahad Mustafa, ‘Powerless’ is a riveting, gritty & highly electrifying portrait of a city the throes of urban decay, however the ubiquitous star of this deftly handled documentary is Loha Singh, the idiosyncratic local Robin Hood of Kanpur who risks his life by climbing electricity poles to reroute ‘power’ from the rich & affluent to deprived. To market & promote documentary films has been a challenge & inspite of hard-hitting & equally engaging subjects; documentaries have been a glaringly untapped territory. Hence with Phantom backing Katiyabaaz, there was sense of buzz. But what definitely attracted the footfalls was a sharply edited trailer & an evidently striking poster. Here’s Loha not just stealing electricity, but stealing the complete show. The overall design & treatment couldn’t be any more ‘Powerful’ than this. Don’t miss the stencilled title design, suggestive of urban street art in graffiti style.
8. LIAR’S DICE
A wife in search of a missing husband, her daughter, a goat & a stranger… Geetu Mohandas’s directorial début is more than a usual road-film. I look at it as an atmospheric immersion into the silence & clutter of the human mind traversing through unknown terrains. With Liar’s Dice one embarks upon a deceptively hopeful & uncertain journey from a sparse, icy winter into the claustrophobic chaos of a modern city. With exemplary performances by Geetanjali Thapa and Nawazuddin Siddiqui & evocatively captured by Rajeev Ravi, Liar’s Dice is a film that you don’t want to miss when it hits the theatres. The poster design encapsulates all the elements of the film through highly detailed & illustrated approach. Almost resembling a cover for a graphic novel yet building upon the ambiguities of human relationships, without revealing too much.
9. OM DAR-B DAR
It took 26 long years for Kamal Swaroop’s hallucinating trip to unfurl on the big screen. And those who have seen this bizarre, surreal piece of poetry will agree that it was worth the staggering wait… Here absurdity takes a whole new meaning; infact it redefines a unique inimitable language for itself. It’s hard to categories a film like Om Dar-b-Dar… Even harder to write about. Call it Dadaist propaganda, post-modernist assault to the senses, audaciously art-house, underground, avant -garde, experimental anti-thesis of Indian cinema, rebel yell or whatever you want… It’s a film that’s still way ahead of it’s time. Love it or hate it, It’s an experience that you can’t miss for anything it the world. I was particularly impressed by the flux of poster designs that flooded Kamal’s facebook page just before the theatrical release of the film. These were created by a motley bunch of ardent fans, followers, visual artists, graphic designers, students and cinephiles, for whom Om Dar-b-dar remains the timeless, undisputed cult film. Here’s my pick. No more words!
Vikas Bahl’s Queen is probably the big-hearted, “feel good” film of the year… It’s both refreshing & vivacious in approach & treatment, infused with a reasonable dose of emotional quotient without being overbearingly sentimental. Call it a journey to ‘Self-discover’. The ‘Hero’ of this unexpectedly charming story is ‘Rani’ who doesn’t just steal your heart but fills it with joy. This poster designed by Mumbai based creative agency, Brain on Rent is a perfect example of how not to over do an idea, when the best way is to keep it simple. An effervescent portrait of the bubbly, spirited, carefree girl, who’s just stumbled upon her true self… The bokeh’s just add to the magic. I instantly fell in love with it… Free spirited, breezy, filled with Life. Sometimes a good image is all you need for a great poster.
Originally Posted:- www.longlivecinema.com