Skip to content

Cine-Pop: Bollywood Photo Culture

3-12 December, 2022

India International Centre, 40 Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi, Delhi, India

Amassed through purposive searches and chance encounters in the streets of Bombay, Cine Pop: Bollywood Photo Culture presents an array of images from the collection of Rahaab Allana. Vintage Hindi movie stills alongside associated memorabilia that advertised and popularized actors and epic sequences from the original films will be on view at the exhibition. Many of these stills were developed into large film posters, banners and hoardings, and also circulated in the form of lobby cards and show cards that were pinned up in foyers of cinema theatres. This selection of analogue photographs, dating from the 1940s through the 1990s, invokes a visual subculture that continues to have extraordinary mass appeal, and offers a glimpse into a regrettably overlooked meta-history of Indian photography.

The exhibition is curated to reflect some of the dominant tropes and typologies prevalent in the earlier period of Hindi cinema, leading up to the globalisation of Bollywood. The featured photographs are from Bombay film studios such as Studio Nataraj, Himalaya Talkie Distributors and Pravinchandra G. Javeri, and present that era’s top actors, including Madhubala, Ashok Kumar, Nargis, Dev Anand, Pran, Mumtaz, Mehmood, Johnny Walker, Om Prakash, Randhir Kapoor, Dharmendra, Helen and Rekha. The selection also includes images of renowned personalities and celebrities captured by cameras ‘in the moment’ in social and other contexts, and widely published in popular magazines and tabloids, and as photojournalistic reportage.

Showcased with Art Heritage in 2013 to mark the centenary of Indian cinema, this unique collection is revived here to commemorate the 195th year of the invention of photography.