Changing times for festivals in hindi films
One of the most vivid images of Diwali portrayed in Hindi cinema is in the film 'Shirdi Ke Sai Baba'. It so happens, that people refuse oil to a blind girl to light diyas. She goes crying to Sai Baba and he with the divine powers lights up her house with water-filled diyas, which prompts the girl to sing, 'Deepavali manayen suhani mere Sai ke haathon mein jaadu ka paani.' Cut to 2001, clad in a zardosi / chikan sari, Jaya Bachchan celebrates Diwali singing 'Meri saanson mein tu hain samaya, mera jeevan to hai tera saaya' in Karan Johar's star-studded designer offering Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (K3G).Times have changed and so is the depiction of festivals in Hindi films. In earlier instances, Raksha Bandhan meant the 'Behna ne bhai ki kalai pe pyaar baandha hai' song in the film Resham Ki Dori, in which the brother, Dharmendra remembers his sister who was raped, Holi meant Waheeda Rehman dancing gracefully to 'Piya sangh khelo holi, phagun aayo re' for Dharam paaji in the film Phagun or even Sandhya dancing to 'Ja re natkhat re…palat ke doongi gaali re' in a half-man-half-woman garb in V Shantaram's Navrang. Then of course there's the all-time favourite sequence of Gabbar Singh aka Amjad Khan in Sholay asking Kaalia, 'Holi kab hai? Kab hai Holi' followed by the flirtatious Dharam-Hema number.Today barring an odd K3G, Hindi films hardly celebrate festivals. And that's largely because television is filling the gaps. There is so much celebration on the small screen, courtesy Ekta Kapur (these days you know which festival is round the corner by just looking at her shows) that filmmakers find no need to portray festivals or even rituals on the big screen. Every serial you see today has Diwali, Holi, Karva Chauth even Ganesh Chaturthi and Dahi Handi being celebrated with gusto so why overdo it in films? And so comparatively fewer films have festival scenes. Also more than festivals, it's the weddings that were 'in' in Hindi films post-Hum Aapke Hain Kaun.Another reason probably why we don't see a Diwali or a Holi these days (barring an odd example like the recent Baghban which had Bachchan doing an Avadhi number with Hema Malini) is that earlier festivals were an integral part of the script, they helped the story to move forward. A case in point is Rajkumar Santoshi's Damini, in which a rape occurs in the family during Holi and the story takes on a different turn. Or in another instance in Sholay, viewers anticipate some tension after the fun-filled Holi song, which leads to Gabbar's entry in Thakur's village and the ensuing fight sequence. Holi also brings in a lot of awkward moments along with some adulterated fun in Yash Chopra's Silsila, which had the high-on-bhaang Bachchan unabashedly professing his love for Rekha while their respective spouses Jaya Bachchan and Sanjeev Kumar reduced to hapless spectators. In some cases, a director even uses a festival sometimes for symbolic effect. Like an obsessed Shah Rukh Khan beating the dhol furiously in the Holi scene in Darr is an ominous symbol of things to come. Or the way Raveena Tandon uses the trishul in the Durga puja scene in the climax of Kalpana Lajmi's Daman. Ravana's vadh coincides with Raveena's killing of her maniac husband in the film. So festivals are mostly used to create a certain effect. So all said and done, while those who miss seeing their favourite film stars celebrating festivals in films could probably rent videos of old Hindi movies, the others could probably make do with celebrations on the soap box. With the current Diwali mood, rest assured the TV show queens must be all out dressed in their finery!