Deepali Dewan
Assistant Professor of Fine Art, University of Toronto
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(Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum Press, 2011) This book tells the story of a unique but little-studied form of Bollywood advertising: the showcard.  While Bollywood films have achieved worldwide recognition, the visual culture of advertising that surrounds them has not received as much attention even though it has been a dominant part of the urban and rural landscape across northern India for much of the 20th century. Showcards are collages using film stills that have been cut and assembled on a board and hand-painted. They are unique works of art, combining old and new painting styles with photography, resulting in dramatic, colourful compositions. While billboards and posters are a part of global cinema advertising practice, hand-made showcards seem to be uniquely South Asian. This book traces the evolution of Bollywood showcards over four decades-from the 1950s, just after India’s independence, to the 1980s, just before its entry into the global economy. Essays by Deepali Dewan, Kajri Jain, and Rajesh Devraj examine how showcards are made, displayed, circulated, and how they intersect with other South Asian visual forms. These are supported by full-colour illustrations and catalogue text co-authored by Alexandra McCarter that elaborates on the evolution of graphic design.