Film Posters in South Asia

History of the Film Poster – India

In 1912 Dadasaheb Phalke made history and became the first Indian to make a silent film called ‘Raja Harishchandra’ . At this time the idea of the film poster was very new .So there were only play bills and announcements that looked like the one given below and there was one poster that was release months after the initial release

This was the announcement that was released all over in it’s utterly British style. After this point in Indian silent cinema there was clearly a trend emerging in terms of mythological, religious and fantastic stories were the predominant themes that were featured in cinema due to it’s mass appeal.

The first color painted picture poster in India is of a film called ‘Kalyan Khajina’ which released in 1924 and was directed by Baburao Painter. It describes the adventures of a Maratha and the goddess watching over him. Baburao Painter himself also designed the poster.

After that in 1937 we see the first color film to made in India called Kisan Kanya but strangely enough the only surviving copy of the poster is in black and white.


There were three main centers of production in pre-independence India. Which were Bombay, Lahore and Dhaka.

Prior to partition, Lahore was still being developed as a prominent production centre. Pran, an ‘Indian’ actor acted in one of the first film made in Lahore called “Paraye-Bas-Mein” which is a Urdu language film . It is the story of two lovers divided by geographical constraints only to be reunited after many years in this drama. This film was released in 1946 and was particularly successful because of the themes it dealt with. It was a painted poster also starring Asha Posley.

The next  film to be released in Pakistan was a film called ‘Teri Yaad’ also an Urdu film, that dealt with themes of partition and lovers being separated it was released exactly a year after their independence in commemoration. It was wildly successful.

The first film to be made in East Pakistan deviated from the norm of Romance and Homecoming but instead is a story about deceit and family. It was called Mukto-Mukhosh. Literally meaning “The Face and The Mask”. The next film to be made in independent Bangladesh was a documentary on the struggles of the riots and the struggles for independence. This poster has proven most elusive and so has the film.


Everything in Nepal for a while was run by the royal family including the film industry and was thus regulated by them. But after a while film production rights were made public as the films the royal family used to make were for personal use only.

The first film to be made for public consumption was a film called ‘Maatighar’ literally meaning dirt of home. A story about homeland and homecoming.

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