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In the four months since Akshar Pathak began designing his version of Bollywood posters, he has had more than 14, 000 likes on his Facebook page, earned praise from actor Sanjay Suri, and had his work shared on the web by Punjabi rapper Honey Singh. Late in April, he received an email from filmmaker Mira Nair asking whether he'd like to design posters for her forthcoming movie, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Pathak, who works for DSYN, a Gurgaon-based design agency, is all of 22.
His Facebook page is called Minimal Bollywood Posters and displays about 75 of them designed by him. The posters are simple and intelligent, with some pushing the naughty and playful, like a poster for The Dirty Picture which shows two fried eggs, sunny side up, arranged next to each other. Others look to be a bit more profound, like one for Dev D, with a man holding a bottle of liquor to his temple. The poster for the Emraan Hashmi-Mallika Sherawat starrer Murder is a simple Censor Board certificate.
"Every movie has one clear idea which the audience take away. It is the strongest point in that movie. I play on that idea, " says Pathak. "Hindi film posters are usually very loud, like the movies themselves, and try and pack in everything in the artwork.
Recently, though, there seems to be a shift in the way posters are designed. There was a hint of minimalism in the posters for Dabangg, for example, where the emphasis was on Salman's shades. There was a theme in the posters of Kahaani, too. "
Naturally, Pathak is a movie buff, equally fond of good fare in Hindi and English. His favourite films aren't minimalist in any sense - he adores the Govinda starrers of the 1990s, for instance. Designing movie posters allows the young National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) graduate to marry his two passions - art and cinema.
Pathak began poster design after a chance encounter with the work of Ibraheem Youssef on the internet. Youssef, a well-known Boston-based designer and illustrator who began creating minimalist film posters in 2009, puts up his own take on hundreds of Hollywood films on his website Ibraheemyoussef. com. In fact one of his posters for Inglourious Basterds worked so well that he was even asked by the film's marketing team if it could be used for their international campaign.
Pathak's work, meanwhile, appears to have gone viral in the digital world. He says it's not unusual for him to spot people with wallpapers of his work on their tablets and smartphones. The company he works in, DSNY, is also mulling Android and iPhone apps based on his work. Sometime in April, Pathak's poster for Deewar was published in Elle magazine. This was how Mira Nair got to know of him. "Nothing has been finalised as yet, " clarifies Pathak about Nair's offer.
Things have happening fast for the young designer. Two months ago, actor Sanjay Suri came across Pathak's poster of the 2003 film Jhankaar Beats and commended him for it. Then he did a Honey Singh poster which was noticed by the rapper and shared on Facebook. He had an exhibition at the India Habitat Centre in March and has now branched out into developing Bollywood memes for the net.
The older son of an architect father and a painter mother, Pathak, a Delhi boy, has designed products for the retail store Happily Unmarried and has worked on projects for Delhi's Comic Con. Now, with so much online buzz, he is mulling commercialising his work. "I never started this as a business venture, " he says, "but now I am thinking of it. Perhaps I will begin with Tshirts and posters. "
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