When Holi played a spoilsport

The rape scene in ‘Damini’ or Gabbar Singh’s attack in ‘Sholay’, here’s how Holi played a supporting role

Compared to Dushera’s good-over-evil theme, the festival of colours is considered less dramatic and more convenient for plot development leading to the most crucial scene in the film. For decades, Bollywood has used the festival to conjure images of passion, love, happiness and even violence to some extent. Indian Cinema’s first tryst with the festival came in ‘Aan’(1950s) when the director went gung-ho about exploring Holi’s cinematic potential. From V Shantaram’s Navrag to Vijay Anand’s Guide, Holi has been evocatively to display the emotions of love and joy. But the festival has also been used to break the stereotypes thereby using the festival to darken the plot. Here’s our list.

Damini: This is perhaps the most disturbing scene associated with the colourful festival. Director Raj Kumar Santoshi uses Holi as the dramatic turning point in his film where the son of a high-society family rapes the young housemaid and goes ahead to cover the act up. Meenakshi Shehadri plays the daughter-in-law of the household who refuses to turn a blind eye and fights for the victim's justice.

Darr: Before his lover boy image was lapped up by the audience, Shah Rukh Khan played the anti-hero in ‘Darr’. In this scene Sunny Deol and Juhi Chawla play with colours while Shah Rukh Khan colors himself black and gatecrashes into the celebrations posing as a part of the band and watches Kiran dance to his beats. On seeing her romance another man, the obsessive lover gets reveals himself, thereby shocking her. A violent chase follows but he escapes.

Sholay: Gabbar Singh’s surprise attack and his first action-packed confrontation with Jai and Veeru takes place on Holi. After the duo scare away the dacoits, the truth about Thakur’s inability to help them is revealed. In Sholay Holi is also used to show Radha’s colouful earlier life which has become blank now after her husband’s death. And of course Gabbar’s iconic dialogue-Holi Kab Hai?

Silsila: Apart from Amitabh’s rendition of Rang Barse, Holi scene holds importance for the dramatic revelation. In the dramatic mini-climax where the otherwise restrained protagonists open abandon under the influence of bhaang. Their respective spouses who till now had no idea about their past are taken aback with their intimacy.

Saudagar: In the film, a decade-long enmity between the characters of Raj Kumar and Dilip Kumar comes to an end on Holi. In the scene, Dilip Kumar's friend tries to put colour at him but his efforts are  adamantly tuned down.Then Raj Kumar enters the scene and splashes colour on him saying only he has the right to throw colour on his friend.