An unprecedented Collection of 200+ Lots are set to go under the hammer at ‘The Greatest Indian Show on Earth’ Osian’s auction of vintage & rare Indian film memorabilia, starting with the Opening Preview Exhibition today, 22 August, Friday, at the Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai.
India’s colourful and vibrant film heritage boasts of one of the richest repertoire of films anywhere in the world, as it is the largest film producing country. Our film history and heritage also includes a massive treasure trove of artistic, innovative and creative film memorabilia comprising posters, show cards, lobby cards, song synopsis booklets, LP covers, photographs… each object a piece of history, a vestige of the artist, a witness to nostalgia.
A host of such historic memorabilia will be featured in “The Greatest Indian Show on Earth” Series Auction of Rare & Vintage Indian Film Memorabilia being presented by The Osian’s Group. The Opening Preview Exhibition will be held on Friday, 22 August at the Tao Art Gallery, Worli, Mumbai, at 7:00pm.
An unprecedented Collection of over 200 Lots offers collectors and film enthusiasts a chance of a lifetime to own a credible piece of history with a genuine connect to the artist or film with numerous fond memories and nostalgia anchored in the object. The Auction is another heartfelt attempt at making Indian Film memorabilia a vital and indisputable collectible and to give it the respect it has long merited like Hollywood & European memorabilia.
Featuring in the auction will be some of the most coveted items of the bygone and the present day era of India Cinema with a focus on Prabhat Film Company and Prakash Pictures, one of the great early studios in India. Legendary filmmaker V Shantaram made some of his most celebrated and socially impactful films early in his career under the banner of Prabhat Studios, such as Aadmi and Duniya Na Maane.
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Founder Chairman, Neville Tuli commenting on the auction and the larger preservation needs, reiterates, “It takes at least 10 to 12 years to build anything of consequence in its first form. Today, no one throws away the publicity material, but instead so many are seriously thinking about building museums and libraries for their collections. Many wish to participate and help preserve this critical aspect of India’s cultural heritage, as over 90% of everything has been destroyed forever.”
“The fragile nature of paper and the obsession with the present moment, so disrespecting our histories and the work of previous generations, means we have no time left and very little to preserve. Still the scale of the passion and commitment required is lacking. Unless the film fraternity, especially the younger generation recognizes this responsibility, the fact will be that the world’s largest film industry will have the world’s smallest collection of itself in physical and digital terms. Auctions such as “The Greatest Indian Show on Earth” bring to the surface this critical need,” he adds.
Collectibles that make you step back in time into the golden era of Indian cinema have been a steady feature of Osian’s collections. In this auction, there is generous dose of nostalgia with collectibles such as an original ticket of Kamal Amrohi’s Pakeezah from 1972 speaks volumes of a die-hard fan who collected and preserved this object with immense love and which now holds both sentimental and financial value.
The practice of printing customized First Release tickets with particular movies was limited to grand scale movies such as Kamal Amrohi’s Pakeezah, Raj Kapoor’s magnum opus Mera Naam Joker and Around The World (shot in 70mm in various international locations). Interestingly, Billimora Chotubhai, the owners of Moti cinema Chandni Chowk, Delhi, who were also the Distributors for Delhi for Mera Naam Joker, were so sure of the box office success of the film that they opened the Advance Booking two weeks ahead of the release with printed name tickets! Needless to say, the tickets were wrapped up within hours.
Romance, the most long-lasting and popular theme of Indian cinema, features prominently in the auction with special focus on the iconic screen pair Dharmendra and Hema Malini, showcased through films like Charas, Jugnu, Razia Sultan, Chacha Bhatija, Raja Jaani, Dost, etc. Hema Malini who not just graced the posters of her brilliant films, but whose image was used on packets of beedis, soaps, calendars with aplomb and was one of the leading brand ambassadors of the 1970 – 80’s. The Dream Girl along with one of the most beautiful actresses to have graced the Indian screen Madhubala and other leading actresses feature in a special section Leading Heroines from 1950’s – 70’s.
International locations where early Indian films (post 1964 with Sangam) were shot is another focus area and showcases large posters of films such as An Evening in Paris, Love in Tokyo and Night in London.
Kapoors: India’s first family of films features film memorabilia from films of Prithviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor (a vintage and rare original first release poster of Junglee), Shashi Kapoor, Rishi & Randhir Kapoor to the Manish Malhotra costumes worn by Karishma Kapoor in N.N. Sippy’s Silsila Hai Pyaar Ka and Kareena Kapoor inspired art by artist-fan Nitin Utge.
The Indian film industry has lost a significant portion of the incredible hand painted art work, concepts, posters and other publicity material and even master tapes of films due to lack of adequate preservation. Says Neville Tuli, “It is sad that in a country which is so passionate about cinema and where film stars are larger than life, the market for vintage Indian Cinema publicity material and memorabilia is at such infancy compared to say the market for Hollywood memorabilia. This reflects the lack of not just a cinematic culture but a lack of financial clout in the global context. It must change.”
As with the Fine and Popular Arts, Film Publicity Materials and Memorabilia have been a key part of Neville Tuli’s and Osian’s infrastructure-building vision since 1995 (with Osian’s established in 2000). In 2002 Osian’s held India’s first ever auction – ‘ABC: Art, Book & Cinema, The Historical Mela’ on the subject so as to pioneer the market-making activities for Indian film memorabilia. The market and awareness changed virtually overnight across the world. Simultaneously, Osian’s began its archive and collection building process so as to develop the educational and knowledge base for this vast subject and its relationship with the other arts and culture.
“After eleven years of hard work by Osian’s, India can proudly say it has the basis of an international standard market for its cinematic heritage; hereafter no one will dismiss these items as raddi (garbage). They are collectibles and they have significant financial value. Though there is still a significant distance to cover for an in-depth market to emerge, and hundreds of galleries and dealers to surface in a legitimate manner,” says Tuli.
Today Osian’s vast Cinema archive houses over 160,000 artworks, encompassing Hindi Cinema in near entirety and a continually expanding focus on Hollywood, Asian, European and world cinema. This permanent collection includes artistic props and archives of film posters, photographic stills, handbills, song synopsis booklets, slides, lobby cards, costumes, among other memorabilia. The first steps of sharing such with the public free can be seen with the beta version of osianama.com.
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