Final Cut: Raj Khatri, Mumbai

This article is the fifth in a series of articles featuring movie posters from across India, released and unreleased works too, for their merit. Keep watching this series for more.

When asked about the work they followed, one of the names that popped up often in our conversations with publicity designers, was that of Raj Khatri. Raj is currently the Creative Head at Marching Ants and has worked on many projects with Swapnil Rane. Raj also takes great interest in making alternate movie posters, many of which have been sold and showcased at exhibitions abroad.

A science dropout, Raj’s love for art was strong and he spent his teenage years collecting video-game packaging and album covers. After 2nd year, he quit B.Sc. and took to Photoshop, realising this could take him closer to what he loved. In 2005, he joined Mumbai-based Epigram, where he stayed for four-and-a-half years before moving to Marching Ants in 2009.

He has worked on more than a hundred films now, but his first was Naina, a horror movie starring Urmila Matondkar in the lead role. Talking of the initial posters of Naina, he shares how they weren’t up to the director’s expectations and the entire office tried their hands at it again.

“I chose a shot where Urmila had just woken up from a dream [in the movie] and had a dazed look,” says Raj. “The typography was written on her cheek. The image I chose was actually a rejected shot. Initially, they said the director would hate this, but it turned out well and we built the entire campaign around it.”

Apart from this, he also mentions having enjoyed working on the posters of Go Goa Gone, even though the movie was commercially unsuccessful.“This was the first zombie film in India. We got to use a lot of prosthetics for this film; it was fun, this weird idea of using a severed hand to light up his [the actor’s] cigarette.” The posters, although grotesque, do have a sense of humour about them.

His other favourites include Shor in the City and Bhopal: A Prayer of Rain. Shor was more conceptual and quirky, which, Raj admits, gave him space to try new ideas instead of just producing work. Bhopal: A Prayer of Rain was a tough case though, with many constraints.

There were only 25-30 working shots to choose from, reshooting wasn’t possible, the film’s commercial release had been stalled for a couple of years, and it was being shown in festivals before being released for the masses. “The title sequence of True Detective, which has this double exposure visual, stuck with me and this [Bhopal] also had an industrial plot. So we used this face that erodes into the factory and a small family walking, [representing] a feeling of remorse…” says Raj.

The Recycle Bin

Raj likes to experiment with alternate versions for movie posters form the world over. Raj’s work keeps expanding sizeably with every passing month, and thsee alternative posters are his release from usual work. He was also recently featured here.

View Raj Khatri’s Behance here, for more of his work. 

A version of this article was published in Kyoorius 27.

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