Actor, singer, musician and filmmaker – Kishore Kumar was easily one of the most multi-talented artistes to have graced the Indian film screen. The posters for his films reflect his versatility, as well as the madcap charm and eccentricity of his persona – both on and off-screen. In this Posterphilia column, we take a look at the cine-legend's various reel avatars through some of the most interesting posters for his films.
First up, we have some wild posters for Badhti Ka Naam Dadhi (1974) – a film with a title so campy and spoofy, it made me wonder if it even existed for real. The film's nutty plot revolves around a multimillionaire with no heir, who decides to leave his property to the man with the longest beard and two men competing to stake claim on his estate. It might be one of Kishore Kumar's lesser-known films, but its hilariously outlandish posters definitely grab one's eyeballs and attention.
Kishore Kumar's wacky experiments with facial hair continue in the posters for Jhumroo (1961) and Shabbash Daddy (1978). The poster for the musical rom-com Jhumroo features Kishore Kumar and Madhubala as they appear in the song Timbuktu. The character of Jhumroo aspires to be a Gurkha, and here he dons a look that might today arguably be described as yellowface. In Shabbash Daddy, Kishore Kumar plays a father who sets out to get his son married but instead ends up falling in love himself. The poster shows his 'old and 'young' looks as he tries to recapture his youth by shaving his moustache and dyeing his hair.
In the posters for Half-Ticket (1962) and Shreeman Funtoosh (1965), we see Kishore Kumar shrink in age and in size respectively. Half-Ticket was based on the 1955 Hollywood film You're Never Too Young and follows a man posing as a child in order to procure a train ticket at half-price.
Shreeman Funtoosh on the other hand, was one of Bollywood's earliest and rare sci-fi comedies – about a man who gets first acquires superpowers and then starts rapidly shrinking after being accidentally exposed to radiation in the lab of his girlfriend's scientist father.
We see a departure from Kishore-Da's usual comic persona in posters for two of the rare films featuring him in a more restrained, dramatic mould. The poster for his directorial passion-project Door Ka Raahi (1971) elegantly portrays a man on a soul-searching quest for the betterment of society, while the striking Russian poster for Naukari (1954) directed by Bimal Roy effectively portrays the strife of unemployment.
Next up, we have the posters for three buddy-comedies – Padosan (1968), Chalti ka Naam Gaadi (1958) and its sequel-in-spirit Chalti ka Naam Zindagi (1982). The Padosan poster captures three men as they vie for the affections of their pretty neighbour, while the posters for the two Chalti Ka Naam films promise a crazy ride with the three (reel and real-life) brothers reveling in the spirit of joie-de-vivre.
Lastly, we have posters for two films where we see Kishore Kumar projected as a more conventional romantic hero – Girlfriend (1960) where he starred opposite Waheeda Rehman and Naughty Boy (1962), which paired him with Kalpana Mohan. Naughty Boy particularly stands out with its wonderful use of minimalism and negative space – and both posters feature vibrant and beautifully rendered portraits that radiate with charm.
(Images courtesy: Osianama, Cinestaan and ReklamaFilm)