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Raj Kapoor and Nargis romancing the rain in the empty streets of Mumbai is an eternal image for movie lovers. From the heydays of black-and-white cinema to contemporary times, the monsoon has been a constant, playing myriad roles.
The weather has been used as a trope in cinema since its dawn, actively impacting the style and plot. Rain has been the ultimate aphrodisiac of Indian cinema. Rain is used for songs, to create a build-up or even as an integral part of the storyline. The trend started with rainy love songs that added some oomph to movies without seeming obnoxious or vulgar. It was romantic, naughty and sensuous. When it rains in Bollywood, saris turn sheer, and the lovers caught in the rain take shelter under an umbrella. The most memorable scenes and songs which use rain are Madhubala and Kishore in the song ‘Ik Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi Si’ or a ravishing Raveena Tandon swooning with Akshay Kumar in ‘Tip Tip Barsa Paani’ or the innocent lovers, Manisha Koirala and Anil Kapoor, lip-singing ‘Rimjim Rimjim.’
The showers of monsoons have also been viewed as a synonym for hope. In Aamir Khan’s Lagaan, the villagers sing and dance in hope of the rain clouds, with the monsoon being the quintessential backbone of the farmers’ lives. In the climax, when the British leave the village, rain comes down, and the villagers dance in the rain celebrating their victory as rain becomes the ultimate metaphor of glory in the drought-stricken land. It became a cinematic spectacle, as a catalyst that informed audiences of the emotions of the story.
Recently, rain has strayed from just being a symbol of romance. It has become a liberating force as felt in Kareena Kapoor’s Bhaage Re Mann, where she dances like nobody is watching. Rain here is freedom; it is liberation, an inspiration to break free. A euphoric Aishwarya Rai dancing in the rain in Guru celebrated life. The monsoon in Mumbai during the concluding scene of Wake Up Sid was about a new beginning, a reason to finally let go. Clichés of yesteryears are now celebrated when Kareena and Aamir danced to ‘Zoobie Doobie’ in 3 Idiots.
Monsoon also means downpour; the pouring rain and the dark grey-blue clouds speak of a looming sadness. The hero or heroine walking in the rain as thunder and lightning ensue in the backdrop is not a novel scenario.‘Tujhe Yaad Na Meri Aayi’ from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai has everything that the rain symbolizes. Numerous films have celebrated the whirlpool of heartbreak through rain. A heartbroken Kajol running in the rain simultaneously as the new lovers unite is a deeply etched memory for all movie buffs. Rain also becomes the dramatic equivalent to drama and suspense. Many psycho thrillers in Hindi cinema have rain acting as a shadow to murders. Rain throws the narrative into acceleration as it becomes an accompaniment or an obstacle to the course of action.