Bollywood has been deeply enrooted to the cultural traditions of the East. Keeping this in mind, The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is celebrating ‘Year of India’ with an interesting exhibit revolving around bewildering Bollywood History.
The Institute for Contemporary Culture (ICC) presents North American debut of Bollywood Cinema Showcards: Indian Film Art from the 1950s to the 1980s. According to Dr. Deepali Dewan, ROM curator of South Asian Arts and Culture states, the exhibit provides a chance to explore and witness the amazing evolution of a specific form of advertising avenues primarily associated with the mainstream commercial cinema that is centered around Mumbai.
A museum official has been quoted as saying, “These cards combine paint and photography. They present a unique aspect of superb South Asian visual culture. These originally produced by local artists, the showcards used to be thrown out at the end of a movie’s run usually. It’s indeed remarkable that the collection has managed to survive at all.”
During this time period also on view is another interesting exhibition, entitled ‘Embellished Realities: Indian Painted Photographs from the 1880s to the 1940s.’ This show brings together about 75 works drawn from the permanent collection of ROM that has been not been shown in public before. Produced from the onset of photography in India in the 1840s, the focus is on photographic portraits almost totally covered with paint for enhancing the subject. By mixing the technique of photography and the art of painting, the artists then created a genre of special Indian visual culture.
The works remain a precursor to Bollywood showcards, as the intriguing concept of enhanced photos and embellished realities to complement the realm of fantasy created by Bollywood. ‘Embellished Realities’ is on view in the H.H. Levy Gallery, Level 1, until March 2012. Together with Bollywood Cinema Showcards, these two exhibitions present a 100-year survey of Indian visual culture related to the Indian photography and film industry.