Taschen's book charts rich treasure of Indian cinematic art

Bollywood films and music may have a reputation for borrowing from Hollywood but its posters cannot be accused of being anything other than original works of art.

Taschen Books has released “The Art of Bollywood,” a coffeetable book that pays homage to Bollywood film posters and other artwork, including songbooks, that accompanied Hindi and regional pics going back to the early part of the 20th century.

Paul Duncan, editor of “The Art of Bollywood,” says that when he was growing up in Coventry, England, he was fascinated by the enormous posters for Indian films plastered on theaters showing Bollywood films. So when he was contacted by writers Edo Bouman and Rajesh Devraj he jumped at the chance to do the book.

Getting some of the older posters wasn’t easy, although Devraj, scripter of pics such as “Quick Gun Murugan,” and his father, who ran an outdoor advertising service, are collectors, so some of the artwork came from them, Duncan says. “We even got some from Pakistan,” he says.

“What was particularly good is we didn’t just get the usual suspects,” he says. “We got B movies, ‘Tarzan,’ ‘Superman’ — I hadn’t been aware of these films. From a visual point of view it’s so interesting and diverse.”

The book includes images from the songbook for “Mother India” as well as regional films in Tamil, Bengali and Telugu plus religious-themed films like “Kavi Kalidas.”

Devraj told Indian website Rediff, “I always thought that even if you weren’t interested in Hindi movies, you’d enjoy looking at these images, because they’re so wildly entertaining.”

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