12 dazzling vintage film posters from the golden age of Indian cinema

These colourful and beautifully designed film posters grabbed the attention of film fans in cities and villages alike.
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Pakeezah (1971) ‘Pakeezah’ means ‘pure heart’ or ‘the pure one’. The film is set in Muslim Lucknow at the turn of the 20th century and tells the story of a courtesan who is unable to leave her past behind. This poster takes the film’s most powerful and famous scene, in which Meena Kumari (in a stunning final performance), dressed in pure white, dances over broken glass at the wedding of her former lover Credit: BFI National Archive

Pakeezah (1971) ‘Pakeezah’ means ‘pure heart’ or ‘the pure one’. The film is set in Muslim Lucknow at the turn of the 20th century and tells the story of a courtesan who is unable to leave her past behind. This poster takes the film’s most powerful and famous scene, in which Meena Kumari (in a stunning final performance), dressed in pure white, dances over broken glass at the wedding of her former lover Credit: BFI National Archive

Guest House (1959) Credit: BFI National Archive

Guest House (1959) Credit: BFI National Archive

Daaka (1959) Credit: BFI National Archive

Daaka (1959) Credit: BFI National Archive

Madhumati (1958) Director Bimal Roy’s biggest hit is a gothic-style ghost story in which a young man shelters in an old mansion and experiences flashbacks to a past life and a lost love, Madhumati. The film features one of the best, and best-loved, scores of Hindi cinema Credit: BFI National Archive

Madhumati (1958) Director Bimal Roy’s biggest hit is a gothic-style ghost story in which a young man shelters in an old mansion and experiences flashbacks to a past life and a lost love, Madhumati. The film features one of the best, and best-loved, scores of Hindi cinema Credit: BFI National Archive

Aasha (1957) Credit: BFI National Archive

Aasha (1957) Credit: BFI National Archive

Naukri (1955) A recurrent concern of post-Partition cinema was the tension between urban and rural India. With the growth of India’s urban population, the city became a focal point for cinematic stories, often being depicted as hostile and cruel. The striking artwork for Naukri (which translates as ‘Job’) depicts a lone figure against a stark and stylised urban backdrop. The use of the newspaper job advertisement picks up the film’s theme of young people searching for work

Naukri (1955) A recurrent concern of post-Partition cinema was the tension between urban and rural India. With the growth of India’s urban population, the city became a focal point for cinematic stories, often being depicted as hostile and cruel. The striking artwork for Naukri (which translates as ‘Job’) depicts a lone figure against a stark and stylised urban backdrop. The use of the newspaper job advertisement picks up the film’s theme of young people searching for work

Sheesh Mahal (1950) Credit: BFI National Archive

Sheesh Mahal (1950) Credit: BFI National Archive

Lagan (1941) Credit: BFI National Archive

Lagan (1941) Credit: BFI National Archive

Sant Sakhu (1941) This Hindi-Marathi devotional film is based on the life of Sant Sakhubai, a follower of the Bhakti movement. A number of early Indian films featured religious or mythological narratives, but these were gradually supplanted by contemporary social dramas, such as Divorce (1938), after the introduction of sound in the 1930s. This booklet artwork displays the influence of painter Ravi Varma, whose depictions of gods and mortals had a great impact on early cinema art.

Sant Sakhu (1941) This Hindi-Marathi devotional film is based on the life of Sant Sakhubai, a follower of the Bhakti movement. A number of early Indian films featured religious or mythological narratives, but these were gradually supplanted by contemporary social dramas, such as Divorce (1938), after the introduction of sound in the 1930s. This booklet artwork displays the influence of painter Ravi Varma, whose depictions of gods and mortals had a great impact on early cinema art.

Baghban (1938) Credit: BFI National Archive

Baghban (1938) Credit: BFI National Archive


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