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Evolution of lollywood film poster

Final Examination

Research Paper


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Dr. Bilal Ahmed

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Sarah Shakeel

MPhil (2018-2020)





A film poster is not just a collage of images or piece of information or any colorful design. Over the decades, film posters have been one of the major medium for film publicity in Pakistani cinema. Hoarding and posters are the first point of contact between the film and its target audience. The 50s and 60s were the peaks of Pakistani film industry. Film posters have been the reflection of changing time, technology, techniques and array of ideas and design of different decades. Starting from Teri Yaad in 1948 the first Pakistani film, till today, the posters of Lollywood films have come a long way from broad visible brush strokes with a striking array of colors and typography to modern day digital prints on glossy sheets. This paper is an attempt to study the Transformation in Pakistani film posters by analyzing the layout of different Lollywood film posters from 1940s to 2018. This paper also studies the film posters significant and distinguished style of designing and presentation of different times.

Key words:

Poster, Lollywood, Film, Transformation, significance, Typography, Digital prints.



A poster is any piece of printed paper designed to be attached to wall or vertical surface. (Gosling 1999)

Poster are a celebrated part of design. They are easy to collect and add a personal touch to a room when hung on the walls. Posters are primarily advertisements and their task are to connect with the people on the street, not with the images on the screen. (King 2003)

A Film Poster

A film poster normally contains images of the main actors or a scene or a collage of several scenes of the film with text. The textual information on film posters usually contains the title of the film in large, lettering, names of the main actors, director, producer, music director, story writer, etc. with date of releases. (Gosling 1999)

Although, in general, a poster consists of both textual and graphics elements, but posters only containing, either or wholly text are not rare. Both eye-catching and dispense information to the target audience are the main objectives of posters. One of the purposes of a poster is to give publicity to a film.

Film poster, if not a main tool of publicity, still one among the other tools of outdoor publicity like hoarding, stickers, banner, etc. posters play a considerable role. Even today in busy world, the posters pasted outside or inside carriages such as rickshaws, auto-rickshaws, delivery-vans, buses, railway carriages, toilet, wall of cinema hall and busy chowk, etc. pull attention of public very easily. (Zaidi 2009)

One main difference between general poster and film poster is that a general poster usually doesn’t target a certain group of people over another, while a Film poster generally does. There is a need for the poster to convey the identity of the movie.

Film poster: The Beginning

Hoarding and posters are the first point of contact between the film and its target audience. The 50s and 60s were the peaks of Pakistani film industry. Starting from Teri yaad in 1948, (figure 1) the poster has been a part and parcel of the publicity of films.

Figure 1 Teri Yaad, 1948

The process of constructing cinema hoarding is fascinating (figure 2) and, until recently, was considered an integral part of film’s marketing strategy. Painters were sought out for their draughtsman’s skill, innovation, sense of design and style. Legend has it that M.F. Husain, the iconic Indian artist, began this career painting movie hoardings for a few annas (pennies) a square foot. Frequently, the selection of scenes to be depicted was also left to the master painter, who would be assisted by a team of apprentices. Each scene depicted on the billboard (selected based on dramatic potential or the appeal of the actors involved) would have its still photograph divided on to grids. Divisions would be proportionally enlarged and transferred onto waiting tin sheets nailed together on wooden frames. The team of artists would then ply their trade: one would draw outlines, another fills in details, a third add colour. (Zaidi 2009)

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Figure 2The process of painting a cinema hoarding

But in a globalizing world, billboard painting is a dying art. Labor intensive and costly, hand painted billboards being replaced by photographic digital printouts (figure 3). Quicker to mass produce, the new computerized printouts are hipper, more meticulous, glossier, in other words more multiplex. (Zaidi 2009)

Figure 3 contrasting designs, Lakshmi Chowk, Lahore, 2006

Publicity design reflects content in the Pakistani context, there are significant change in publicity design, a thematic transformation takes place.

Remarkably, the design of the film poster echoes the change in the kind of films being produced in Pakistan.

In this paper, researcher compare older film poster with contemporary ones to detect different aesthetic.

This paper has aimed to understand the transformation in Lollywood posters with respect to layout of the poster, letterform, film genre, treatments and production techniques will be discussed.

To study the Evolution of film posters one should know the importance, types and conventions of film posters.

Importance of the Film Poster

Starting from the first Pakistani film Teri Yaad to till today, the poster of Lollywood films extensively noticeable brush strokes with a striking colors and typography to modern day digital prints on glossy sheets. Posters are the main medium for art lovers, historians and antique collectors to study the subject in the present day.

The industry was producing an average of 100 films per year in the 1970s and 1980s, perhaps the largest of the Muslim world. (khan 2005)

With an array of colours mixed with linseed oil, a community of painters have created hundreds and thousands of Lollywood film posters of larger than life designs and depicted stories of the films to the audiences.

Film posters are incredibly important in terms of a films marketing techniques. They are created to promote films and to intrigue audiences but there is a larger market for collecting film posters and older, original movie posters are in great demand.

They trick the audiences into going to see the film as they are usually made to look glamorous, stylish, interesting and worthy once time. (Zaidi 2009)

Types of Film Posters

The main poster: this contains information about the production personnel, the stars and the distributors.

The teaser poster: this poster contains basic information, it doesn’t indicate much about the plot, but may have a picture of the stars and name of the film.

Video or DVD release poster: this comes out when the film is released on DVD and often has all the above plus short, one-time reviews from relevant publications.

There are also many different posters for different audience. A film could be a drama but some of the posters might make people think the film is more action-based, comedic, or even more romantic. This is done to collect a wider audience for the film.

Typical Conventions of a film Poster

The poster is usually designed to attract the largest audience.

The poster needs to be eye-catching and captivating.

The poster should clearly define the genre.

The poster should have a focal picture that draws the audience in.

The post should have a release date, or indication of when it will be released.

The poster should have information about the directors, production companies and stars of the film.

The poster could have a review from newspaper about the film.

Analyzing the key elements of film posters

Framing Study, the positioning of objects, actors, and text within the frame of a poster to achieve a particular effect. For example, a film poster for action film might feature the main actor framed in such a way as to make him seem attractive, strong, and invincible.

Mood Study, the feeling created for a viewer by the director’s use of detail, music and cinematography. Design, color, and fonts are used to appropriately reflect the mood and tone of the film.

Slogan Analysis the catchy and memorable phrase or sentence on a movie poster. An effective slogan should convey the mood, tone, and main idea of the film without giving too much away. It should capture viewer’s attention and make them interested in the story.

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There is nothing new, just everything transforms due to advance skills and Knowledges, poster design often draws inspiration from past successes. Researcher compiled the theatrical release posters of Films from the past decade and matched them to their spiritual and stylistic predecessors to illustrate the ways that poster design has evolved or endured over the years.

Analysis the work of Sarfraz Iqbal in the field of Lollywood poster

Painting film posters was in the genes, it appears. Iqbal’s father Sardar khan, aka S khan, was another well-known poster artist who worked in Bombay well before partition. After he migrated to Lahore, he became the pioneer of cinema Publicity in Pakistan.

He painted posters of all the biggest films in the country. In 1962, he became the leading artist of Lollywood and by the 70s, he was making posters for nearly 50% of all films that were produced. His iconic work includes painting of veterans Waheed Murad and Rangeela, to the more recent ones such as Zinda Bhaag and ishqq Khuda. (S. khan 2013)

Figure4 Moti Dogar 1983 Figure5 Tere bina kia jeena 1982

Figure6 Sangdil 1982

He said that, he would pull out those scenes which had a very important role in the film or a scene that would speak out to the audience. He painted a specific scene from movie because designing hand made posters, large or medium, is time-consuming and can even take months. (S. khan 2013)

Older poster posters are minimalist, focusing primarily on the main characters, usually a couple, at times a singular figure, and displaying a powerful graphic design sense.

The last of Lollywood enthusiasts, Guddu

Going through the large number of Guddu’s collection of Lollywood Posters one can easily observe the transformation of Film posters.

Guddu, an avid collector of Pakistani Cinema memorabilia, he has a collection of more than 15000 posters, booklets and photo sets. Filter his collection based on the landmark events in the history of Pakistani cinema. (Soomro 2015)

Figure 7

A hand painted poster of a Pakistani Film 1968

Figure8 Poster of the blockbuster first Pakistan sci-fi movie Shanee

Figure9 Poster of the movie made in collaboration with Regional Cinema

Figure10 Figure 11

In above posters title has occupied different positions. These posters are quite cartoon like. The Stars are given a more focal point than the film title, giving the impression that the potential audience would first recognize the actors and then go to see the film because they were in it. Above posters almost gives the plot of the story before even know the name of the film.

In posters the story then the actors, the images, then the name of the film were given priority in that order, and sometime with the name of the movie even in bigger font or in different colour. In some poster there are small font that posters give the impression that the image is solely what will draw one to watch the film. Mostly specific hues used in posters are blues, reds, greens and earth tones. In some the main title are given in red.

In SAAZISH and JOKER posters the text placement is very interesting. Apart from the main title of the film the main text is placed on the bright background with the producer’s name most noticeable.

Figure 12 Poster of the 1953 Urdu film ‘Sheri Babu’

This was one of the first Pakistani films to comment on the interaction between urban cynicism and rural simplicity

Figure 13 The poster of Pakistan’s first ‘socialist film’ Jago Hua Savera 1958.

It was penned by famous leftist poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Figure 14

Figure 15

The style of posters reflects the melodramatic nature of Pakistani films. Emotion is laid simple, rage, passion, desire, sorrow. Increasingly encourages the covering of bodies, male, female, but in posters art exists in a parallel reality of revealing clothes and seductive poses.

Till about the late 1970s, the Pakistan film industry was regularly releasing an average of 80 films a year. (F.Paracha 2013)

Most of the posters during the peak of the industry (in the 60s and 70) were cinematic and farcical meditations on certain social, domestic and romantic issues that middle and lower-middle-class.

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2007 to onward posters


Looking at these following film poster there are many layers of information to take in, text, objects, colour etc. through which transformation is analyzed. one very important element in poster design is the use of color. Transformation with advanced tools and freedom to create virtually anything which imagined. Photorealism began draping over imagery and text, rendering special effects such as smoke, negative space, mist, lighting and various other textures. Examples of such features were particularly prominent in MAALIK (2016) and MANTO (2015)



Figure 17 MANTO 2015

Pakistani Films Bol, Dukhtar, Bachana and Khuda k liye is from feminist perspective

Figure 18 ‘Khuda kay Liye’ (2007)

Figure 19 VERNA (2017)

Figure 20 BOL ( 2011)

Figure 21 BACHAANA (2016)


Film poster were one of the main points of contact between a newly launched movie and general masses. The earliest film posters created in the 1930s consist of mostly scene depictions, accompanied by significantly smaller and simple block text, resembling magazine covers. Film posters created from the 1940s onwards include stronger and bolder exploration in poster design.

Most posters created in the 1940 relatively traditional illustration style. Typography was typically clear, bold, vibrantly coloured and has its own space from the scene illustrations. These hand-rendered prints displayed the first fusion between art and text.

By the 1950s, celebrities gain more prominence. Typography also started receiving more artistic treatment, with more conceptual designs and dropping subtle hints of the Film’s plot, making typography a vital part of the artwork.

Posters from the 60s -70s take a bigger leap into creative typography, ditching elegance for fun and quirk. From cartoon like typefaces to rainbow colours to tilted and warped layout, the text had further covered its position in the overall artwork during this era.

The 80s, 90s till today the rise of photographs playing a significant role in film posters. Typography continued to evolve creatively but moved into a slightly more peripheral role as the new trend of Photographs begun to occupy the majority of canvas space, which is the strong influence on todays Film Posters.

The use of both imagery and type are more balanced compared to those produced in the previous decades, where one is often more prominent than the other.

With the advent of digital editing and graphics, creativity knows no boundaries in film poster created from the 1990s onwards. Photorealism began in both imagery and text and created unusual effects.

By analysis the posters from Pakistani Films one can easily understand that film posters from past have influenced today’s designs is both enriching and nostalgic. It is highly anticipating seeing that the designs of film posters will further evolve in future, but since much have been tried and tested in the last century, changes may not be as distinctive. Nonetheless, design has never failed to prove the world that phenomenal trends are birthed from perceived creative blockage, so there will always be something to look forwards to.

The study established that the Lollywood poster of every decade represent significant and distinguished style of designing and presentation of different times.

F.Paracha, Nadeem. “New-Wave of Pakistani cinema: Zinda and Kicking.” DAWN, 2013.

Gosling, Reter”,J. “Scientist’s Guide to poster presentation.” Kluwer Academic Press, 1999.

khan, Ali. “Pakistan Film Poster Art.” 2005.

khan, Sher. “Almost Famous: Painting Big Screen Moments on Canvas.” Express Tribune, 2013.

King, Emily. “Movie poster.” Mitchell Beazley London, 2003.

Soomro, Farooq. “Guddu: The Last Lollywood Aficionados.” DAWN, 2015.

Zaidi, Saima. Mazaar, Bazaar (DESIGN AND VISUAL CULTURE N PAKISTAN). Karachi, Pakistan: Ameen Saiyid, Oxford University Press, 2009.

Image Resources


2. Saima Zaidi Mazaar, Bazaar (Design and Visual Culture in Pakistan). Karachi, Pakistan

3. Saima Zaidi Mazaar, Bazaar (Design and Visual Culture in Pakistan). Karachi, Pakistan


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15. https://aurora dawn com/news/1142913








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