chapter  6
16 Pages

Tamil cinema in the public sphere: The evolving art of banner advertisements in Chennai

For the past five decades, the visually arresting medium of banners and

cutouts transported the melodrama of Tamil cinema from the darkened

confines of the theatre to the public sphere of the streets of Chennai. This

medium consisted of images derived from film stills that were painted by

hand on cloth and on plywood board. The gigantic proportions of banners

and cutouts (33 by 6.5 metres for the largest banners and over 13 metres

high for the cutouts), their vibrant colours, as well as the convincing illu-

sionism of their imagery ensured the dominance of this medium in the urban landscape. But with the turn of the twenty-first century, solvent

printed images on vinyl sheets have displaced the hand-painted banners and

cutouts. What precipitated this transition in advertising media? Does this

shift in media from hand-painted canvas to print on vinyl parallel a shift in

Tamil cinema from a provincial to an international idiom?