Tamasha! An Exhibition of Bollywood Billboards Design Exchange (234 Bay, 416-363-6121; $8, stu/srs $5 ) and Drake Hotel (1150 Queen West, 416-531-5042, free ), to September 25. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
The Indian film industry, the world's oldest and largest, has come to be celebrated for the exuberant way it twists the standard Hollywood tropes into deliciously kitschy flights of escapist fantasy and visual excess. Its film are long on style and short on logic, in a style that's both oddly familiar and utterly foreign: world's oldest and largest, has come to be celebrated for the exuberant way it twists the standard Hollywood tropes into deliciously kitschy flights of escapist fantasy and visual excess. Its film are long on style and short on logic, in a style that's both oddly familiar and utterly foreign: romantic leads burst into song and dance in the middle of the street but rarely ever kiss. It isn't surprising, then, that Bollywood posters kick up the conventions of classic Hollywood poster-making another manic notch. Rafi Ghanagounian has curated a choice collection of them on show at the Design Exchange and Drake Hotel this month.
Raven-haired beauties and leading men of the Omar Sharif type swagger, preen, flirt, look agonized or appear stoic and windblown on adverts that bring a vibrant palette and bright Hindi lettering to the standard Gone With the Wind template.
Guest speakers, discussion forums, live painting demonstrations by veteran poster artists Alam Choudhary and Vijay Kumar Singh , and a video installation/performance are part of the show (for complete schedule, see www.anoushgallery.com). It's a celebration of the golden age of the hand-painted poster, fading fast due to advances in technology and a changing cultural landscape.
Tamasha! also includes some more contemporary takes on the pervasive cultural impact of the Subcontinent. Interdisciplinary artist Shelly Bahl has installed a "boutique" featuring the fusion fashion of designer Rashmi Varma . In her accompanying video, Pink Is The Navy Blue Of India (a motto coined by legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland), Bahl films Varma as she goes into goofy ecstasies over her clothes, prancing about in outfits or salaciously tonguing an embroidered hem.
Her fluffy send-up of fusion culture reminds us that India is a prime example of the morphing of traditions into mass culture.