Ranjani Mazumdar

Arts Research and Documentation

Grant Period: Over one year and six months

Ranjani Mazumdar is a graduate of the Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Milia Islamia University, Delhi, as well as a graduate of the Department of Cinema Studies, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. She has been making documentaries since 1986 and is also a member of Mediastorm, a collective of six women film makers.

With this IFA grant, Dr. Mazumdar will research the production processes, design elements and reception of film posters in metropolitan and small-town India.

This particularly mobile form of ‘street art’, Dr. Mazumdar points out, inhabits a complex labyrinth of streets and alleyways, and can be found in a range of diverse settings including city walls, lavatories, paan shops and roadside dhabas. For the film poster, the urban landscape is a giant exhibition site, and in attending to the relationship of the film poster to urbanity, Dr. Mazumdar feels that she will be able to record some of the public aspects that shape the rhythms of everyday life in urban India.

In generating a detailed account of the moment “when paintbrush meets the photographic image” – of celluloid stars, for instance – Dr. Mazumdar will attempt to understand the creative decisions and artistic choices that poster artists constantly make in the course of their work. But she will also attempt to understand the degree to which a poster artist retains control over his work. 

On another register, Dr. Mazumdar suggests that the film poster “blurs the distinctions between advertising, painting, photography and design” and is both a “publicity gimmick” and a “cultural icon”.  For instance, Dr. Mazumdar is also interested in understanding the manner in which a poster creates a new mise en scene, highlighting select aspects of a film’s narrative.  Or indeed the manner in which ‘colour’ posters have been used to advertise ‘black and white’ films – Awara and Shri 420, for example!

Dr. Mazumdar will also record and study the different perceptions that these posters evoke. And in mapping the sphere of ‘reception’, she will be attentive to gender-related concerns.