This Holi, A Look At The Colours Bollywood Brings To Us…

As the nation celebrates Holi - the festival of colours, we set out to pay a tribute to colours in Bollywood…

If there can be specific days to commemorate the contributions of Musicians, Lyricists, Producers and Directors, what but Holi would celebrate the work of Art Directors??

Colour plays an unimaginably important role in our life. Before that finished product comes to our screens, a lot of high order thinking has gone into the setting of the colour palette of the film; costumes, props are all deliberated upon. Behaviours, situations, moods; what are these if not defined by the bounds of colour?

As the nation celebrates the festival of colours, we set out to pay a tribute to the use of colours in Bollywood…

Colour symbolism is much before the advent of the first colour film of Bollywood ‘Kisan Kanhiya’. Black and white meant so much that the white is good, black is evil trend continued to be a part of not only the visual media but also got deeply rooted into our culture.

If fact the colour symbolism is “so there” that we take sepia tinted flashbacks for a given. In ‘3 Idiots’, “Black-n-white filmon jaisa ghar” is instantly understood albeit it is aided with an actual change of colours, more blacks than whites to signify the comic melancholy.

From these scenes of monochromatic melancholy, to yellow pants and red shirts dancing away to glory, we have come a long way. Directors have kept on devising newer ways to keep the audience in touch with what was happening on screen via the liberal use of colours.

Of the most poignant examples, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Anurag Kashyap stand out for their use of colour allegories and have been critically acclaimed.

‘Black’ and was more monochromatic in its palette with streaks or red here and there. Was the black monochrome to denote the simplicity of the relationship between the teacher and the student or did it stand for the turbulent times of resistance and disability? Colour could signify many things to the viewer but to the director, it is a direction, a goal.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Saawariya’ is the “Blue” film!

As critics rightly point out, Blue in this film lies in the grey areas of life. It is troubled yet lively. It is for the turbulent times that one can’t forego. Though the movie is mostly tinted blue, red, yellow, pink along with other bright colours come to the screen via the prostitutes in the colony. These colours are said to only hide the real blue even black of their real selves. When the characters of Ranbir and Sonam step into the town, they have shed their inhibitions and their worries though the blue and black tinted town continues to engulf them…

When Sanjay Leela Bhansali was asked about the heavy use of dark colours in his latest films, Bhansali’s reply in his own words was, “What fun to explore a road not taken, to explore blacks, blues and greys instead of riotous colours!”

On a similar note, the film ‘Table No. 21’ too has a blue tint all through the film. This signifies the coldness of the situation and its hostility. However, when the lively blue was mixed with liberal amounts of yellow in Farhan Akhtar’s ‘Dil Chahta Hai’, it stood for youth, sparkle and fun!

‘That Girl In Yellow Boots’ uses the colour yellow as the symbol of hope and excitement while blue again bring us back to reality when it features as the colour of towels, walls and lightings.

More of Anurag Kashyap’s colour oriented films would be ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Gulaal’ with Red being predominant in costumes, décor and tint. Red signified violence, disagreement, terror and bloodshed.

On other occasions, red has been for passion, lust and love. Yellow for disappointment. Purple for Royalty and riches and blue for rejuvenation and refreshing…

Colour changes according to what the film is portraying at that particular point and colour can change meaning with context. One may then rightly argue that there is no fixed meaning to a colour. But I say that thought there is no meaning attached to the colour per say, it provides meaning to other things by associating with it. A colourless life would be so difficult to understand. No one would blush, red roses would just be grey. Our films have in some little but certain way brought our imagination to life…

Pay tribute to our films of colour; let us celebrate colour; Happy Holi!

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Samyukta Shastri

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