The Telegraph
Friday , January 11 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Flying djinns and winged apsaras, daakus with whiplashes and cloaked hunterwalis — extraordinary figures and montages of lost and forgotten films, actors and genres of Indian cinema have come alive on the first-floor walls of The Park, transformed into a house of Indian film memories. All hand-picked from the private collection of Priya Paul, chairman of the Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels.

Titled Maya Mahal, aptly named after the 1949 film starring Fearless Nadia, around 100 paper-paste film memorabilia spanning posters, lobby cards, song booklets and magazine covers offer a flashback into the magical world of mainstream and B-circuit films.

The exhibition commemorating 100 years of Indian cinema kick-started the Apeejay Calcutta Literary Festival on Wednesday morning, in keeping with one of the key themes for this edition of the fest.

“Priya Paul’s collection comprises close to 4,000 film paper artefacts that she has gathered over the years from collectors, hobbyists and film distributors. We tried to find a particular voice to the posters and picked ones to fit into three themes — fantasy, action and dance,” explained Debashree Mukherjee, a PhD student of film studies from the New York University who is curating the show.

Priya’s brother Karan Paul, also chairman of the Apeejay Surrendra Group, inaugurated the exhibition and smiled, “For years (sister) Priti and I have been wondering what she has been up to! Now we know and what we see here is really her labour of love.”

Besides the iconic Sholay and Himmatwala posters, the exhibition was a unique peek into a world of forgotten classics like Hatimtai Ki Beti, Jadoo, Madame XYZ, Chhota Chetan 3D and others.

Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal, present at the inauguration, pondered, “There’s a lot of history here, unconventional yet historical,” as he browsed through the posters and cards from the 1930s to the new millennium and pointed out the changing publicity material in Indian films evident from the changing artwork.

Maya Mahal will be on display till January 27 before it moves to Delhi and Bangalore. If you have a filmi bone in your body, don’t miss this one.