75 rare photographs, paintings, sketches, posters, block print art, vinyl LP covers, lobby cards and hand-bills to celebrate Amitabh Bachchan’s journey so far in his platinum year in a special exhibition titled FRAMES 75.
What can be a better way of celebrating the platinum year of India’s iconic star, actor Amitabh Bachchan who turns 75 this year, than with a journey through his illustrious career? But this celebration has a unique speciality. Not only will it have rare and extraordinary memorabilia of Amitabh Bachchan’s trailblazing career, it will also showcase art that conceptualises the Big B in various unique and exceptional ways.
Renowned photojournalist, author and occasional painter Pradeep Chandra and eminent film archivist, historian and author S M M Ausaja, have joined hands to curate a unique show titled Frames 75 which uses rare photographs, paintings, sketches, posters, block print art, vinyl LP covers, lobby cards and hand-bills in 75 frames to celebrate the superstar’s journey so far.
St Regis, Mumbai, will host the preview of this unique exhibition in Mumbai on 9th May 2018, to be opened by Amitabh Bachchan and the invitees shall be guests from the film fraternity, media and art world, including celebrities from across the fields. The exhibition will then be showcased at Whistling Woods, the film institute headed by noted filmmaker Subhash Ghai.
Chandra told this writer, “We both have been fans of Amitabh Bachchan. I started my career almost at the same time as Amitabh Bachchan did. When he was shooting for Reshma aur Shera in Rajasthan, I was shooting for Do Raaste and Mera Gaon Mera Desh in Rajasthan. I have been photographing him for the last 35-40 years and my pictures have appeared in various magazines and publications. I have written a book on him, titled AB The Legend: A Photographer’s Tribute. Before doing this book, I did a huge tribute exhibition to Amitabh Bachchan on his 61st birthday at J W Marriott, which had 61 artworks, photographs, furniture, sculptures, etc. It was inaugurated and praised by Mr Bachchan and received critical acclaim. From time to time, occasionally I write on him.”
The idea came about when during a discussion, Chandra and Ausaja thought that since they have so much visual material between them on Bachchan, how about showcasing a cross-section of rare pieces to mark the superstar’s platinum year. Chandra asked his painter friends to do some paintings on Amitabh Bachchan and some digital work on his photographs. And Ausaja brought in posters, block prints, photographs, LP covers, and other rare collectibles.
Once the idea started crystallizing, the two curators made large prints of their planned exhibits and presented their concept to Amitabh Bachchan who liked the work and agreed to inaugurate the exhibition.
Speaking to this writer, SMM Ausaja, said, “My idea was to showcase images and frames which are rare. I have deliberately avoided the Shahenshah jacket look, the Deewar knotted shirt look because everybody identifies Mr Bachchan with that. So if I picked up Deewar, I am now showcasing the artwork of an artist with Amitabh Bachchan and a bidi. So Deewar is there but in a new look. Similarly, there is a photograph of Mr Bachchan when he began his film career. He is wearing a pink shirt and white trousers in a colour photo. You can barely recognise him! After the success of Anand, when he became a star, it is the postcard sized photo which he sent to his fans. I have blown it to a frame.” Another artwork from Kala Patthar which has Bachchan with a bidi will also be on display.
“Now everyone recognizes Mr Bachchan with the French cut beard. But if you look back at his career, there is no French cut beard anywhere except in Toofan and Amar Akbar Anthony in the climax. There is one French cut beard that happened in Pukar, 1983, in one scene where he is sitting on the bonnet of a car, in a black French cut beard. I have picked that scene. This is a showcase of a very different look of Bachchan which people will not even remember. Then I am using a poster of Yaarana, where he is holding a guitar with an Elvis Presley look.”
“There is a beautiful hand-painted showcard of Faraar, the Sharmila-Amitabh film. It is a Shanker Mukherjee film and a personal favourite too. Strangely, no one talks about this brilliant film written by Gulzar,” Ausaja added.
It is important that the exhibition opens to film students and movie lovers, especially Bachchan fans. “Whistling Woods International takes pride in supporting and encouraging various art forms and talented artistes. We are delighted to associate with FRAMES-75- the exhibition curated by Pradeep Chandra and S M M Ausaja and would like to congratulate the duo. They have showcased a unique and never-seen-before tribute to the legendary actor Mr Amitabh Bachchan in his 75th year. I would like to encourage all cinema lovers to witness this grand exhibition which is a treasure of legacy that will be passed on to the future generations, for years to come”, Subhash Ghai said in a release, looking forward to the event.
On a lighter note, Ausaja said, “The most interesting thing about this exhibition is that all three of us, Mr Bachchan, Mr Pradeep Chandra and myself, we are all ‘Ganga kinare walas’. Mr Bachchan was born in Allahabad, Pradeep Chandra in Varanasi and my birthplace is Kanpur. How’s that! The Great Ganges connection!”
The rare visuals that will be on display include a photograph of Amitabh Bachchan addressing an electoral rally in Allahabad, when in 1984 he won a landslide victory that’s still a record. A fake 100 rupee note with Amitabh Bachchan’s picture on it takes you back to the 70s 80s and 90s when these dummy notes were used to make wads of notes during shootings and most had the Big B on them.
T 2799 – They pay a tribute to me .. I am very awkward about this .. but .. what can one do .. its tomorrow at 6.30 at St Regis Hotel ..https://t.co/h6V6vBlKuM
— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) May 8, 2018
Talking about the paintings that will be displayed, Chandra says, “Neeta Singh has done Amitabh in an abstract way where in one canvas there are many Amitabhs. You have to see closely to figure how many Amitabhs are there in the painting, done in a geometrical form. Another painting is by Meethu Biswas, an abstract art on Amitabh on the lines of coding.”
Ausaja is currently in the final stages of production of his book titled The Bachchans, a visually rich journey through the films and careers of the Bachchans. The book is slated for release towards the end of the year. Chandra is working on his second book on Amitabh Bachchan, this time co-authored with Vikas Sinha, which is also expected to be out by the end of the year.
About the Curators
Pradeep Chandra has been a popular photo-journalist with The Times of India, Bombay Times, The Week and many other premier publications. He is also an author and occasional painter. His work has been showcased across the globe. His famous exhibition on the plight of Kashmir Pandits was well appreciated. To celebrate 50 years of Independence, he also did an acclaimed exhibition in Mumbai. Chandra’s tribute exhibition to Amitabh Bachchan on his 61st birthday at J W Marriott was inaugurated and praised by Mr Bachchan, as well as the press. He has written a coffee-table book on M F Husain and another on Amitabh Bachchan, besides penning books on Abhishek Bachchan and Aamir Khan. His forthcoming book is titled Mumbai – City of Gold.
S M M Ausaja is an eminent film archivist, historian and an author with the largest private archive of Hindi cinema memorabilia. He has authored Bollywood in Posters, the bestselling coffee table book released at IIFA in 2009 by Amitabh Bachchan. He is currently working at the Osians art house as Senior Vice President heading the cinema division. His previous exhibition was commissioned by Mrs Jaya Bachchan for Amitabh’s 70th birthday celebrations at the Nehru Centre. His recent book Bollywood The Films, The Songs, The Stars has a Foreword by Mr Bachchan, who also released it in Mumbai last year. His third book The Bachchans will be released later this year.
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