Why is Bollywod shunning holi?
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Why is Bollywod shunning holi?

Holi sequences and songs are becoming rare in Hindi cinema.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2006 18:59 IST

Evocative Holi scenes like the Rang barse song-and-dance sequence from Silsila are not in vogue in Hindi films any more. The merry making accompanying the festival of colours that brought exuberance to our films is fast fading from Indian celluloid.

Filmmakers are no longer enthusiastic about the festival, which remained an integral part of our films for decades. And they are not apologetic about it either.

"It's been done to death. More and more people are losing interest in playing Holi," says filmmaker Vinta Nanda. "From what used to be a festival of colours it has slowly started turning into a nightmare because of eve teasing and hooliganism," averred the director of White Noise.

In the last three-four years, some filmmakers like Ravi Chopra and Vipul Shah had tried to revive the waning magic of Holi on the silver screen.

For instance, Amitabh Bachchan was seen doing a Holi number with Hema Malini in director Ravi Chopra's hit Baghban. In Vipul Shah's Waqt - Race Against Time, Akshay Kumar and Priyanka Chopra danced to the beats of a westernised Holi number Do me a favour lets play holi.

Ketan Mehta's Mangal Pandey had Aamir Khan playing Holi. But the film collapsed at the box office and nobody remembers the scene.

One wonders what's keeping our filmmakers away from this colourful festival!

Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini in the Holi number from Baghban.

"I think it is not a big deal for the young generation. I had a Holi sequence in the first film I produced... and never had a reason to repeat it afterwards," said actress-turned-filmmaker Pooja Bhatt.

Another reason, probably, why we don't see the festival in films these days, which once upon a time played a crucial role in the script, is the increasing influence of the west.

Filmmakers are aiming higher as they yearn for global recognition by making slick flicks, where there is no room for Holi.

But Nanda differs: "Somewhere, somehow all festivals have lost their true essence because of poverty. There is guilt in celebration and apology in every happiness that one feels."

The cinematic tradition of celebrating Holi started with Jwar Bhata - the launch pad of legendary actor Dilip Kumar. Amiya Chakrabarty shot the first ever Holi scene in the 1944 film. Since then, the festival has been celebrated in films unhesitatingly from one era to another without missing its colourful spirit.

Different filmmakers used the festival differently in their films - some as a fleeting incident and others as a turning point in the story. But most were song-and-dance sequences and entertained the audience.

Romance king Yash Chopra used it frequently in films like Mashaal (Holi aayi holi aayi dekho holi aayee re), Darr (Ang se ang lagana sajan mohe aise rang lagana) and Mohabbatein (Sohni sohni ankhiyon wali).

But none of his Holi song has been as popular as Rang barse from Silsila where Amitabh Bachchan unabashedly flirts with ex-girlfriend Rekha in front of wife Jaya Bachchan. Amitabh crooned the song, written by father Harivansh Rai Bachchan, which was a huge hit then as even today.

Memorable Holi songs from other films that come to mind are - Holi ayee re Kanhai (Mother India), Arrey ja re hath natkhat (Navrang), Aaj na chodenge bas hamjoli khelenge hum Holi (Kati Patang), Saat rang mein khel rahi hai dilwalon ki holi re (Aakhir Kyon) and Piya sang khelun Holi from Phagun.

The times have changed now and very few filmmakers depict the festival in their films. Fortunately, TV shows are trying to keep it alive by celebrating it with great gusto and all the channels are trying to outdo each other in the colourful race.

In this era of digital formats, the vibrant colours of joy fail to excite young filmmakers who seem to have almost shunned it.

First Published: Mar 15, 2006 16:00 IST