Panaji, Dec 3 (IANS) An Italian-Polish couple based in Goa has been carefully collecting film posters from across India, mainly of Bollywood, that take you back to another time.
Called 'Colonial Photo', the collection is about a bygone era when Bollywood films had their own black-and-white tales to tell.
Italian Silvio Ciancia, based in Arpora village, has put together an amazing collection of British-era and Bollywood photographs which he also duplicates as collector's items and sells to tourists visiting Goa.
His Polish-English wife, Greta Wilkinson, who trained as a social anthropologist and wanted to get into art herself, looks after the Tabra Arts and adds value to this venture.
'This is only a fraction of my collection. There are lots more,' he said showing around his old-style Goan villa.
'I'm on the lookout for (posters of) strange movies. I'm not much concerned about those films that are too famous. For 'Mother India' or 'Sholay', I don't care,' Ciancia told IANS. 'I'm trying to get the kitsch of Bollywood.
'People go crazy over lobby cards (showing photos of actors and actresses). But the prices have gone up. What you could buy 10 years ago for Rs.25 in Chor Bazaar (Mumbai) now costs $25,' he said.
Ciancia found some good sources for old posters on eBay, the online sell-anything website. He estimates he has over a thousand subjects with him.
He scans the posters, makes a paper copy, and puts them through matt lamination after painting the original.
'Some tourists, like the Russians, love that tarty lady,' he points to one poster.
'Bollywood has some beautiful old movies too. Now, Bollywood makes a lot of films. Maybe, it could make less but of better quality,' he added.
Calling his collection an outcome of a passion for art, he said: 'It's primarily not a business. I'm not here to become rich.'
The collection has made the couple celebrities in Goa. 'We're featured in an article on 'Goa's best kept secrets',' Ciancia said.
In his house one can find the posters of yesteryear stars like Helen, Junior Mehmood, Fearless Nadia, and an Australian woman who married an Indian producer in the 1940s and became prominent in Bollywood.
Ciancia has been collecting the film posters for long, working on them, getting artistes from Milano and elsewhere to do them up, and then sell copies to tourists visiting Goa who are keen to have a brush with India.
What he offers for sale also includes old Indian photos, Japanese ones and Bollywood pictures from the 1940s. There are originals too, while others are printed on paper, canvas or big-size posters.
On his first trip to Rajasthan nearly a decade ago, he discovered there were a huge number of old photographs still available in some places.
He toured all over India and started to buy. His dealer, based in that legendary used-goods market with the suggestive name of 'Chor Bazaar' in Mumbai, used to come to Goa once a month with offers.
'It's now getting difficult to find good photographs. But there are interesting things from Bollywood. They've tried everything (in the Indian film industry). From a remake of 'Jurassic Park' to old movies; they've even tried Frankenstein and Robin Hood.'
Sometimes, he said, there are 'too many Kapoors and too many Kumars' in the Indian film industry, making it a bit difficult for him to keep track.
'Over the years, the price of photos has become so high. Good classic subjects sell for 10 to 20 times more over seven years.'
Sometimes, the price asked for in Mumbai today is comparable to what is being sought in prominent auction houses like Christie's in London, he said.
Ciancia discovered that there is a 'huge market' for copies of such photographs and posters. He sells at the Saturday night markets held in Goa, at Arpora village itself, during the tourist season.
Foreign tourists visiting Goa find the Bollywood posters a suitable souvenir. 'Colonial India' does have a 'desi' market too, with some going in for the maharaja (king) pictures.
He also collects advertisements and photos of maharajas.
Ciancia pointed out that some of his black-and-white photographs have been re-touched and coloured in the fashion of the 1930s. One of the posters from Bollywood is of the film 'Johar Mehmood in Goa'.