A rare six-sheet poster of the legendary film Hindi film Mughal-e-Azam is among nearly 2,500 old posters of Indian film industry that have been acquired by the National Film Archives of India (NFAI).
The Mughal-e-Azam poster is the crown in the collection of around 1,500 Hindi film posters of depicting the history of Indian cinema ranging from 1942 till recent years, and 1,000 more posters of Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam films, showcasing the evolution of film publicity covering various techniques of poster-art and poster-making.
The highlight is the 10ft x 5ft massive Mughal-e-Azam (1960) poster on six separate sheets, which is an offset print of a hand-painted poster, says NFAI Director Prakash Magdum.
Owing to its huge size, the poster conveys volumes about the iconic film, with long shot depiction of the famous war sequence to a colourful snapshot of the famed Sheesh Mahal song sequence, "Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya", done in beautiful brush strokes.
The poster shares two intimate portraits with Emperor Akbar (Prithviraj Kapoor) shedding a tear in an emotional moment with Salim, his son and heir to the throne (Dilip Kumar), as they prepare to go to war against each other.
Gorgeously detailed is the shadow of Akbar's war gear on his face and topping the beauty is the heartrending portrait of a distraught Anarkali (Madhubala) tied in chains occupying the entire right side of the poster, which is ranked as one of the most memorable images of Hindi cinema history.
Besides the name of the maker and the title of the film, K. Asif and Mughal-e-Azam in English and Hindi, only the name of the top music director of that era, Naushad Ali, who composed the immortal songs for the film, figures on the poster.
Magdum says another major highlight of the new acquisition is posters of 90 films starring megastar Amitabh Bachchan, which include one of his earliest films Sanjog (1971) and an unreleased film Zamaanat.
In addition, the NFAI has got posters of Hindi films like Roti (1942), Sher-e-Baghdad, Anmol Ghadi (both 1946), Atom Bomb, Stunt Queen (1947), Pugree (1948), Sant Namdev, Apna Desh, Veer Ghatoktach (1949), Deedar (1951), Alam Ara (1956 - not to be confused with the first Indian talkie by the same title of 1931), Dilli Ka Thug, Phagun (1958), Manzil (1960), Razia Sultana (1961), etc. are a part of this collection.
There are posters of the iconic Mary Evans Wadia, alias Fearless Nadia, for her films Sher-e-Baghdad, Stunt Queen, 11 o'clock (1948) and Shamsherbaaz (1953).
The fresh collection has numerous posters featuring legends like Dilip Kumar, Madhubala, Raj Kapoor, Meena Kumari, Guru Dutt, Nargis, Shammi Kapoor, Dev Anand, Mumtaz, Dharmendra, Dara Singh and many more from all eras.
A big chunk of the collection comprises posters for renowned mythologicals and historical films such as Sampoorna Ramayana (1961), Shree Ganesh (1962), Veer Abhimanyu, Veer Bhimsen (1964), Shankar Sati Anusuya (1965), Laxmi Narayan (1951) and Balram Srikrishna (1968).
There around 120 wall posters of Tamil films, 150 recent films and 600 posters of mainly Kannada and Telugu films, mostly 20 by 30 and 30 by 40 dimensions.
"This has been a significant addition to NFAI's ever-growing collection of film related material. We appeal to all film lovers to come forward and provide films and film-related material so that it can be preserved for future generations," says Magdum.