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Bollywood under the hammer

Bollywood under the hammer

Hundreds of film memorabilia items charting Indian cinema history are sold off…

IN probably the largest sale of its kind anywhere in the world and at any time, more than 200 items of Indian film memorabilia were disposed of for more than a £100,000 in total.

Vintage Bollywood Memorabilia marked a 100 years of Indian cinema and a saw a rich collection of items ranging from film posters, old vinyl LP records and film track record sleeve art go under the hammer for the first time in London.

Conferro Auctions, based in Mayfair, declared itself satisfied with its first ever sale of Bollywood artefacts on Friday (November 29), achieving the disposal of 80 per cent of its 172 listed lots up for sale.

Divided into six sections, mainly in film periods, starting from the 1940s, the sale brought together quite probably the largest collection of Bollywood memorabilia ever amassed under one roof.

The collection had been assembled by the Seth family, who have been collectors for many years and had family connections with the early industry.

Sharan Seth is the director and founder of the relatively newly established Conferro Auctions, which specialises in Indian art and artefacts.

Ashanti Omkar, Bollywood expert and consultant to the gallery display of posters, told, before the auction that the sale was something of an experiment.

“Nothing like this has ever been done before.  No one really knows what the value of Indian film art is and London is at the centre of the global art market and here in Mayfair we are just a stone’s throw away from the other auction houses.”

Ajay Seth, father of Conferro Auction house founder, Sharan, intimated how he had obtained just one of the most coveted film posters in the collection, that of ‘Baarish’ (see facebook:

Released in 1957, it featured two icons of their age, Dev Anand and Nutan.

“The gentleman said he would never part with it – I had to offer to buy him a house,” said Ajay Seth, smiling wryly.

Among the other items to go under the hammer were posters of some of Bollywood’s most celebrated films, including Mother India (1957), Mughal-e-Azam (1960), and ‘Sholay’ (1975).

Included in the first lot, along with LP records from each film, they sold for £1,700 – a little under the guide price of £2,000.

Nevertheless, Sharan Seth was pleased by the overall response to the auction.

“Our auction has set a precedent for the sale of vintage Bollywood memorabilia in the UK. The auction was a celebration of India’s cinematic heritage and heralds a new era for Indian art and collectables in the market.”

The lowest lots, made up in some instances of bundles of vinyl LPs and not just film posters, sold for £500, while one the highest sales of the afternoon was achieved when a cricket bat signed by a host of Bollywood celebrities, including Priyanka Chopra and Ranveer Singh was purchased for £7,500 by Conferro founder Sharan Seth. Tommy Sandhu, BBC Asian Network presenter donated the bat to the auction and the sale money will go towards UK charity, Children in Need.

Gopichand Hinduja, from the billionaire family conglomerate group that bears his name and which has also invested in films from 1950s, and Kamal Fabiani, a well-known Indian heritage art collector, were among those at the sale.

Conferro also said the auction at the Westbury Gallery, attached to the hotel in Mayfair, had attracted buyers from Australia, Holland, Spain and the UAE.

Many of the posters had been on display freely at the gallery last month and Ajay Seth said it was likely that a similar exhibition would be mounted soon.

“We wanted to see what the interest was,” Ajay Seth said. “We have kept back many artworks too and want to show them.”

There was as a special lot of memorabilia that had been assembled from Russia.

From the 1950s, many Raj Kapoor films showed in the Soviet Union, where Hollywood and other western films were banned and Kapoor built up a huge personal following.

Kapoor’s famous ditty Meera Joota Hai Japani from the film ‘Shree 420’ (1955) has been recreated in the global smash hit ‘Gravity’ (2013) starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock and is reprised in that, by UK soap ‘Eastenders’ TV star Phaldut Sharma.

The popularity of Indian films in Russia sparked an interest in collecting and many of the lots included LPs, as well as posters in the 29-strong bundle.

Among the most notable is the 1978 poster for ‘Satyam Shivam  Sundaram’, featuring a near topless Zeenat Aman being targeted by a caddish-looking Shashi Kapoor. It featured a very rare screen kiss for its time and the poster is regarded as one of the most daring and explicit ever produced for Indian cinema (see above).

Among those that didn’t sell was the enormous set of posters and memorabilia connected to the film, ‘Trishul’(1978).

Released by one the of the colossuses of the Indian film industry, Yash Chopra, who died suddenly last year, it featured acting legend Amitabh Bachchan, alongside another iconic figure, Shashi Kapoor and Sanjeev Kumar. The lot was valued at £20,000-£30,000.

Part of the proceeds of the total sale will go towards Pratham UK, which helps Indian street children.

Julian Farrow, Conferro director, provided the specialist art collecting advice. He formerly worked for Sotheby’s where he founded and headed their loyalty programme for major global collectors, before establishing his own luxury lifestyle consultancy.

The auction on Friday was conducted by Edward Rising for Conferro Auctions.


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Written by Asian Culture Vulture


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