Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Holi Haaaaiiii!

Enjoy one of the few Holi songs from the last few years - "Chhan Ke Mohalla" from Action Replayy!

I've seen a few hand-wringing articles the last couple of days about how there are no more Holi songs in films. And it's true; there really aren't. It's a trend that tracks pretty closely with film studio's laser focus on the diaspora market and wanting to be "on par with Hollywood." Religious icons and festivals and songs celebrating them - things that still fill films from the regional industries - are almost completely missing from Bollywood film - unless it's teaching us a message about how Muslims are/aren't terrorists. Or a wedding. (Weddings are still allowed in the new "realistic" Bollywood... for now.)

Holi songs are about taking a few minutes to just live in the moment, to break with mundanity of everyday life, to break with the person society sees you as.

Perhaps the epitome of this is Meena Kumari playing a weepy widow in Phool aur Pattar and as the burden on her heart lifts for a second... *boom* HOLI HAI!

And then there are true emotions exposed by the gaiety of Holi... as in the classic "Rang Barse" picturization which shows Jaya discovering the full extent of her husband Amitabh's feelings for Rehka.

One of the more interesting uses of Holi in recent Hindi films has been from (of all things) Hisss - a film that (apparently) only I enjoyed.

Is there a better way to introduce the Nagin to the swirling, messy mass of humanity than through a Holi celebration? The festival shows it's dark side of unleashed emotion and takes on a somewhat erie quality...

I'm not Indian and I don't know what (if any) significance the festival holds for people there but I do know what Holi songs mean in film and I miss seeing them.


Melanie said...

I just love Chhan Ke Mohalla! It was a fun and refreshing song from Aish!
I wish she had done more of those! :)
Rang Barse is, of course, a classic...

rachael said...

After hearing all the trash talking about Hisss I'd been subconsciously avoiding it (even though Netflix recommends it to me at every turn), but that amazing Holi scene and your review convinced me to check it out, and it was FANTASTIC! thanks so much for championing underdog films.

Filmi Girl said...

@Rachel You just made my day!! Thank you so much! I've been meaning to revisit the film for my Box Office Poison series. :)

(I will also add that one of the strongest detractors of the film saw the film w/out subtitles and speaks no Hindi. How that qualifies him to speak on it, I don't know...)

rachael said...

Pretty ridiculous - I heard the film was about half english but I wouldn't even say that was true, everything important was in Hindi and the english was mostly restricted to incoherent ranting on the part of the crazy brain cancer villain.

Eagerly awaiting your box office poison writeup! I love Nathan Rabin's year of flops project on AV Club and I was so excited to find it translated to Bollywood. I love love love your site (you're probably the first bollyblogger i've found that loves Tashan as much as I do), stay gold filmigirl!

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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