Yesteryear films and filmmakers have a pertinent role in shaping the film industry. These artists are responsible for laying a foundation that contemporary artists today are privileged to have inherited. Cinema isn’t easy considering the myriad of elements that go into making it everything a movie buff imagines, but to have made films in the 50’s or 60’s had its own share of complexities. The right word to be used here is artistry, since I choose to look at the optimistic side of it.
Of the many aspects of pre and post production, film promotions form the cream of the crop. The person who made it possible in the 60’s was poster designer Diwaker Karkare who left behind a legacy of making movie posters for Bollywood legends like Bimal Roy, Yash Chopra and Amitabh Bachchan. The poster designer passed away on January 6th, 2021 in the presence of his loved ones.
Having worked for over 1000 film posters, Diwakar Karkare opened Studio Diwakar in Mumbai after graduating from the prestigious JJ School of Art. Though he trained in both commercial and fine arts, he took to designing film posters using paints and brushes.
India’s famous poster boy was responsible for bringing Amitabh Bachchan’s angry young man avatar to life. The film Deewar received a huge acclaim and the poster is still etched in the minds of so many who remember the poster’s vibrant pink and yellow hues accentuating the character’s essence.
His son Umesh Karkare stated that his father would often pitch to distributors and producers on how to convey entire storylines in one poster. Bachchan’s fiery red shirt in another poster of Deewar was the result of such a pitch.
Karkare was the go-to person for some of the biggest production houses like Yash Raj. He would be ready with publicity material for up to five films every week working with oil paints and watercolours. He incorporated a variety of techniques and materials like over painting with a palette knife and playing with brush strokes. In 1979, Diwakar lent his mastery to another Bachchan-starrer film ‘Kaala Patthar’. He used charcoal to convey the spirit of the film’s title. The objective was to imply the film’s dramatic storyline and characters as well.
After an illustrious career of working in the 60’s and 80’s, Diwakar saw the introduction of digital technology of cut and paste. Eventually the old-school method of using one’s skill to design humongous posters faded and was replaced by new-age mechanically crafted ones. Diwakar knew it was time for him to leave as he saw no creativity in complying to mechanical methods.
We’ve come a long way from doing things differently. They’re evidently faster and convenient now. But let’s take a moment to look back and appreciate the sheer artistry that went into bringing colours and characters to life. I would go back in a breath to gaze at a film poster on a street observing the attempt to have crafted something out of bare minimum. Truly, art can be found with a little vision and when the world least expects it.