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Happy Holi: Five iconic Holi sequences in Bollywood

The festival of colours is a widely celebrated and much-loved occasion and over the years Bollywood has largely contributed in bringing the festival to life onscreen. Bollywood films have smeared various hues in the lives of the audiences through chartbuster Holi numbers and memorable Holi sequences. Holi celebrations today are incomplete without the inclusion of the songs dedicated to the festival. But the portrayal of Holi in films goes beyond the songs and has acted as major turning points in plots of various movies.

This year, on the occasion of Holi, picked their top five Bollywood Holi sequences.

‘Sholay’ (1975) – The classic film not only gave us the entertaining number ‘Holi Ke Din’ which still remains a favourite Holi song to many but also one of the most legendary sequences in Bollywood. While the village of Ramgarh celebrated the festival of colours, Jai and Veeru, represented by Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra respectively, romanced their love interests Radha, played by Jaya Bachchan, and Basanti, played by Hema Malini. The sequence also led to the big revelation of the tragedy of Thakur’s hand post the epic fight scene where Gabbar Singh and his goons attack the villagers during the festival and Jai-Veeru are cornered whereas Thakur fails to help the duo despite having a gun within his reach.

‘Silsila’ (1981) – This film came up with perhaps the most loved Holi song of all time. Ever since the inception of the film and the extravagant Holi sequence, ‘Rang Barse’ became more of a Holi emotion than a song. There is hardly any Holi celebration without the song and that stands as a constant even today. But the sequence goes beyond the song and brings out the effortless chemistry between Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha as lovers Amit and Chandni. While the duo engages in a celebration and smears each other with colours, their respective better halves Shobha and Dr Anand played by Jaya Bachchan and Sanjeev Kumar reels under the awkwardness of the situation and gets conscious about the chemistry between the two. It is also on the day of Holi that Chandni and Amit confesses to Shobha and Anand that they did not marry the person they love.

‘Damini’ (1993) – The Holi Sequence in this crime drama is different from what most Bollywood holi segments have offered. The festival of colours in this film takes a horrific and intense turn around which the entire plot of the film is build. As the Gupta family engages in Holi celebrations, the housemaid becomes a victim of rape in the hands of the younger son and his friends and eventually dies in hospital. Damini, played by Meenakshi Sheshadri, witnesses the heinous crime and takes a stand against her own family to fight for the victim’s justice. The film portrays a brutal reality of how women fall prey in the hands of assailants even during celebrations.

‘Mohabbatein’ (2000) – When Narayan Shankar, played by Bachchan, appoints Raj Aryan Malhotra aka Shah Rukh Khan as the new music teacher of the prestigious Gurukul institution, he sets off in a mission to break the age-old rigid rules and bring in the essence of love and freedom among the students. One such occasion that Raj wishes to celebrate to bring in a change in the otherwise unbending and stringent regime of Gurukul is Holi. The authoritarian principal is left confused when Raj anoints a tilak of gulaal on his forehead seeking permission to celebrate the festival. Narayan Shankar’s approval of the gesture showcases his acceptance of the festival. As he gives a nod to the celebrations outside campus, Bollywood produces one of the most grand Holi sequences on the streets and people still groove along the tunes of ‘Soni Soni’ during the celebration of colours.

‘Padmaavat’ (2018) – One recent Holi sequence from Bollywood that people might remember in years to come is the celebration portrayed in the epic period drama. Not just the eloquent grandeur and appealing cinematic effect in the Manganiyars and Langa’s folk song, ‘Holi’ featuring the royal romance between Rani Padmavati and Rawal Ratan Singh, essayed by Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor respectively, but the festival also becomes one important stage in the film. When Alauddin Khilji, played by Ranveer Singh, camps outside Chittor fort for six months, Ratan Singh asks Chittor to engage in a grand celebration to convey how unstirred the kingdom is by Khilji’s presence. It is also on Holi that Khilji feigns peace and enters Chittor fort for the first time as a guest and puts forth the demand of seeing Rani Padmavati marking the beginning of the tension between the two sides.

Team BizAsia wishes everyone a very happy and safe holi!

– Varsha Roy