From Sholay to Toilet Ek Prem Katha: How Holi evolved in Hindi films
The moment somebody mentions Holi, the first thing we remember is the turning point of Sholay. The song ‘Holi Ke Din’ changes the course of events, and turns Gabbar Singh into one of the most menacing characters we have ever seen on celluloid.Updated: Mar 02, 2018 12:31 IST
Like everybody else, Bollywood too treats Holi as an occasion to celebrate the freedom of spirit and push the limits in search of happiness.
The moment somebody mentions Holi, the first thing we remember is the turning point of Sholay. The song ‘Holi Ke Din’ changes the course of events, and turns Gabbar Singh into one of the most menacing characters we have ever seen on celluloid.
Another remarkable scene is from Darr where Shah Rukh Khan stalks and finally reaches in the close proximity of Juhi Chawla. Under a painted skin, he even rubs colour on Chawla’s face.
Both these scenes show how filmmakers, Ramesh Sippy and Yash Chopra, perceived Holi as a festival that may unleash our darker sides.
Chopra has also portrayed Holi as an occasion where relationships take a different turn. Remember the scene where Amitabh Bachchan’s Amit Malhotra starts flirting with his friend’s wife, played by Rekha. The song, Rang Barse, explores the grey area of the human mind the way it wasn’t shown before.
Director Govind Moonis’ Nadiya Ke Paar presented the real spirit of Holi that can still be found in the rural areas of north India. From showcasing the ‘natua naach’ (Men dancing in women’s clothes) to singing ‘faag’ (folk songs based on Holi), it captured every essential element of Holi. The icing on the cake was the blossoming love story of its lead pair, played by Sachin and Sadhna Singh.
A mostly introvert and closed society didn’t find many occasions like Holi to express feelings. Holi, as a festival, was seen as a chance to take some liberties, of course not the way it later became.
Then there is the original king of romance, Rajesh Khanna, and his hit pairing with Asha Parekh in Kati Patang. Aaj na choddenge humjoli is still the Holi anthem of the nation.
The portrayal of Holi started to take a new shape by 1990. Deewana used the significance of colours as a vehicle to take the story forward. Shah Rukh Khan throws colour on widow Divya Bharti’s white saree suggesting a change of season in her life.
Mohabbatein presented Holi as the beginning of revolt against a tough taskmaster Narayan Shanker, the head of a prestigious educational institution.
Baaghban revisited Amitabh Bachchan’s charm and his association with Holi in Holi khele raghubira. Big B pulled that off in style. It’s now one of the most played songs on Holi now.
By the time Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani released, Holi had turned into a totally celebratory festival without much of a legacy. Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor danced on Balam pichkari, and so did their fans. It was all about living in the moment.
Later, Goliyon Ki Raaslila - Raam Leela’s Lahu muh lag gaya carried the spirit forward.
Akshay Kumar’s Toilet-Ek Prem Katha is the latest film to exploit the Holi theme. It brings out the pain of separation when Bhumi Pednekar leaves Akshay’s house after finding out that his house lacks a toilet.
However, the hearts of traditional Bollywoodn fans still ache for those Holi scenes and songs that contributed heavily to the story and presented the Indian culture in its true hue.