Since his childhood, Sandeep Boyat, the son of a cameraperson and artist, loved watching films. While he wanted to be a part of the film industry, “being from a middle-class industry has its own limitations”, says Boyat. “Eventually, I decided to convert this passion of mine into a hobby,” he said. “I thought, even though I can’t be one of them, at least I can do something that will pave the way for me to reach out to them. So, I decided to collect film-related stamps,” says Boyat (34).
The part-time still-photographer and assistant cameraman has put together a collection of stamps that has a connection to the film industry. To pursue his hobby, he has travelled to several cities, visited film festivals and post offices, and met equally passionate collectors.
His collection, which first came to the notice of the India Book of Records in 2016, was acknowledged by the Limca Book of Records recently. “I started collecting stamps about four years ago. Since then, I have travelled a lot… to look for these stamps… currently, I have between 350 and 400 stamps on films and film personalities,” he says.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the Union government had released some stamps pertaining to films, either to mark a landmark incident in the industry or to honour a film personality. Initially available in post offices, they are all but obsolete now.
“Stamps about directors, writers, music directors from Bollywood… I collect those. I also have stamps of south Indian actors and actresses and some of Hollywood also,” says Boyat. The principal theme of his stamp collection is films, but he does collect other stamps. “The stamps that were issued right after Independence… I have those… they have the image of India’s national flag,” he adds.
For Boyat, two of the most valuable stamps in his collection include one on Dadasaheb Phalke and another on Raj Kapoor. “The first motion picture in India was Raja Harishchandra, made by Dadasaheb Phalke. I have stamps with his images… those are the rare ones in my collection. Raj Kapoor contributed a lot to the industry as a director, an actor and producer. A stamp was released under the name of his film Mera Naam Joker, in 2013, on the occasion of 100 years of Bollywood. That stamp is rare because it is not available in the post office any more. I had collected that from the post office,” he says proudly.
Other notable stamps in Boyat’s collection include stamps on Marilyn Monroe, Hemanta Mukhopadhay, Uttam Kumar, Satyajit Ray, Kishore Kumar and Madhubala, among others.
“Once I got the chance to meet Dharmendra, and he appreciated my collection. He acknowledged my efforts to collect and preserve the history of our film industry. Our young generation does not even know that stamps related to films were available, so this can be a good way to educate millennials about it,” he said.