We Bet You Didn’t Know The Hidden Symbolism In The Posters Of These Popular Bollywood Movies

Inn posters mein jaan hai. Aur cryptic symbolism bhi!

Before any trailer or teaser of Bollywood movie is out, the first thing the makers promote is the movie poster. Usually, we don’t think much of the poster. The only reason we do check the poster is to check the actors. But the posters do reveal a lot more than just the characters.

The graphic designers do tend to spend a lot of time in creating a poster. The major reason why- traditionally, it was used to entice the people about the film. Imagine poster as the trailer. They tell you a lot about the movie itself.

So when I was going through the Padmavati posters, I realised there are many movie posters which tell the whole crux of the story in just one image.

1. Raees


If you look closely, you will be able to see that the alphabet on ‘Raees’ is placed lowest than the others. The movie was said to be based on criminal Abdul Latif’s life.

The significance of ‘A’ hasn’t been lost on the designers. His love (Mahira Khan) Aasiya Alam is the only one who understands him and loves him for what he is. Pssst, her name also starts with ‘A’.

2. Padmavati

Rani Padmini folding her palms, if you look closely, then you can see a Tree on her blouse. The tree basically symbolises life.

In the Norse tradition, the Tree of Life led to nine different worlds including the land of Fire, the world of the dead (Hel) and the land of the Aesir (Asgard).

Also, this is the scene of Jauhar. In the history, it is said, that Queen Padmini along with others jumped into the pyre to sacrifice their lives over a life of humiliation and ill-treatment at the hands of the Sultan. 

Sultan will only find peace/tranquillity (the water) when he gets the lotus (Queen Padmini). It also means that he is ready to fight the ugly battle (in the background) to get what he wants!

If you want to read more on the posters of Padmavati, click here

3. Ram Leela



Sanjay Leela Bhansali loves to have different official posters and each poster tell a story in itself. If you look at the font design, then you will notice that the letters are bleeding. The bleeding is in a way, the plot of the article. The two different caste in Gujarat that fights against each other and ultimately leads to the death of the said Romeo and Juliet.

The ‘Ra’ is highlighted whether it’s in Raasleela or Ramleela indicating that Ram was the important character in the movie.

Also, if you observe, under Leela, there are feathers. The birds were actually a major symbolism in the movie.

Whenever Ram meets Leela at her place, there is always peacock nearby and Leela’s mother gives the dead peacock to Ram as a gift, symbolising that his death is near.

4. Toilet


I think this was the easiest to play with. The movie was based on the real-life story and the media websites had already covered the major plot before releasing the story. The marraige is on the rocks because there was no toilet constructed in the house. The film was a satirical comedy in support of government campaigns to improve the sanitation conditions, with an emphasis on the eradication of open defecation, especially in rural areas.

But what I love about this poster is that the symbol of Toilet is placed on the wife, indicating to us, the cause of the revolution.

5. Raabta


While it was a romantic thriller and talked about the topics of reincarnation and past life lovers, the poster has different layers. The ‘r’ in Raabta is the symbol of the rupee. In the movie, Sushant plays the role of the banker. The ‘As’ are indicating murder and bloodshed which is what happened in their past life.

If you see at the left-hand side of the poster, there is an infinity symbol with a text that says everything is connected. The plot is basically about Shiv and Saira who fall for each other and form an inseparable connection. Until Saira crosses paths with a reincarnated lover from a previous life who is determined to make her his lover again.

6. Bajirao Mastani


The design of Bajirao Mastani is magnificent. In ‘Bajirao’ you can see the bloodied alphabets indicating the life of the warrior. He did die because of the madness occurred in fighting the battle. Also, the poster also talks about the plot of the movie. The affair Bajirao has with Mastani, the mirror in the behind through which Kashi realised about them. We can also see Kashi helpless while looking at them.

7. Commondo 2


A man uses his combat skills to eradicate black money, which has been syphoned to banks abroad which is exactly what is highlighted in the poster.

8. Daddy


The film stars Arjun Rampal, who also co-wrote the film, portraying gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli. The plot revolves around how one of India’s most feared gangsters landed up in politics and his transition to becoming ‘Daddy’.

The film poster is the exact copy of the Gawli in real life.

arun gawli

9. Noor


This is how any magazines front page actually looks like. Noor is a journalist and whenever a feature article is done, usually the images and text are placed like that of the poster.

10. Mom


The movie is all about the Indian mom. To what extent a mother goes to help her daughter, can never be imagined.

For the mother, her kids are everything and she would do anything to make sure that they are alright, even it means that she has to take a revenge. The poster has mom written in different languages, saying only one thing, that in the end, it’s Mom.

11. Neerja


Neerja Bhanot was an Indian model and purser for the airline Pan American World Airways. She lost her life trying to save passengers on Pan Am Flight 73, which was hijacked by terrorists during a stopover in Karachi, Pakistan, on 5 September 1986.

The whole story of the hijack is shown so brilliantly. You can see the plane has been hijacked by the man who has the gun in the background.

The passengers are shown with their head bowed and we can see the kids too. Also, we can see the death of Neerja looming in the poster. She is in the centre of the poster indicating her role to save the passengers. Also, in Neerja font, ‘A’ has the symbol of aeroplane

12. Airlift


Mathunny Mathews is the inspiration for Akshay Kumar’s role in the film Airlift. Ranjit Katiyal (Akshay Kumar), a businessman in Kuwait, who with his contacts, organises a labour camp that shelters fleeing Indians during the 1990 war.

He simultaneously negotiates with the Iraqi government and co-ordinates with the Indian government enabling the safe passage of Indians. The entire movement in real life took 488 Air India flights in 59 days and is the largest humanitarian evacuation in the world.

And you can see the glimpse of it in the poster also. On above, you can see the aeroplane that helped in the evacuation. The font also shows the tarmac. One the left side you can see Iraq and on the right, war. Akshay is in the center which basically tells us the story of the movie.

13. MS Dhoni


The movie was based on M.S. Dhoni’s life and the poster sure seems to capture every major event in his life. From the childhood, the time he decided to be a cricketer, his struggles, his love life and his part in the national team has been covered.

14. Rustom


Based on the real story, called as Nanavati case, it changed the whole judicial system in India.  It was the case that was put an end to the jury system in India. The movie, Rustom is based on the murder of Prem Ahuja. The one who murdered him was an Indian navy officer and the case literally, shook the nation. So, the news in the background is real and in the letter ‘O’, we can see the three bullets that were used to kill Ahuja.

Also, in the background, you can see the cause of the murder, the extramarital affair.

15. Wazir


The movie and the poster talk about one thing, Wazir. The major symbolism here is the chess itself. The poster is divided in the colours of black and white like the chess board. Amitabh Bachchan is shown mostly in the white tiles, indicating that he plays the first movie. The “I” in Wazir is actually a chess piece.

A thriller, Amitabh in the movie, actually plays one step after another making his pawn(Farhan Akhtar) play the game while he was the mastermind behind it (Wazir)

16. Pink


This film is about women rights and it was very well showcased. The word ‘NO’ was defined in so many ways which in the end meant NO and the speech by Amitabh won our hearts.

What I love about the poster was that you can actually see a pair of hands behind the bars of the jail, trying to break free which can be interpreted as the state of the women in India, right now. 

17. Madaari


Madaari is the story of the boy who is kidnapped and the kidnapper. The plot moves around to talk about Nirmal (Irrfan Khan, the kidnapper) had a happy family with his son, Apu (short for Apurva), after his wife left them. Apu died when a bridge collapsed on him on his way to school.

Moved and depressed by his loss, Nirmal decided to seek revenge from the politicians and others responsible for the death of his son.

In the poster, we can see Irrfan acting as the bridge in the whole city. The subtext says, ‘ssssh, Desh So raha hai’ which is true.

18.  Badlapur


The word Badla in Hindi means revenge. (Badlapur is a district in Thane otherwise) The subtext in the title is ‘Don’t miss the beginning’ which is worded quite smartly.

It’s in the starting of the film that the murders happen which lead Varun to take the revenge. Also, on the left-hand side of the article, we can see fire and along with it, we can catch the glimpse of his family, the murderer and Jilmil; the ones that impacted Raghu’s life.

19. Haider


Haider is an adaption of the Shakespearian Play, Hamlet.  Set in Denmark, the play dramatises the revenge Prince Hamlet is called upon to wreak upon his uncle, Claudius, by the ghost of Hamlet’s father, King Hamlet.

To quote Hamlet, “Neither my black clothes, my dear mother, nor my heavy sighs, nor my weeping, nor my downcast eyes, nor any other display of grief can show what I really feel. It’s true that all these things “seem” like grief since a person could use them to fake grief if he wanted to. But I’ve got more real grief inside me that you could ever see on the surface. These clothes are just a hint of it.”

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Posted by

Hema Sanghavi

A Bibliophile and Ambivert who is learning the ways of the world and sometimes is a little crazy about the world of fanfiction. Also a movie fanatic.

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