Different colours of Holi on silver screen

Iconic Holi scenes in Bollywood films


March 26, 2021

/ By / New Delhi

Different colours of Holi on silver screen

Holi scene from Ayan Mukherji's Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013)

Holi has remained an important part of Indian films. The festival of colours has not just given Bollywood some iconic songs but even enhanced the storyline. From Navrang (1959) to Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013), a lot of films have explored different shades of Holi.

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From the symbol of ecstatic celebration in films like Sholay and Baghban to acting as a background for crime scenes like Damini, and for budding relationships like Ye Jawani Hai Deewani, the festival of colours has been aptly used as a plot device in Bollywood classic movies. Holi makes the canvas colourful and at times even becomes the highpoint of the film.

A few films have captured the spirit of this festival, which marks the triumph of love over hate, with nerve-wracking and nail-biting scenes. From its grandeur to the vibrancy and even crimes committed in plain sight, Bollywood has for decades captured the festival on the big screen. From tragic to romantic, Bollywood films have portrayed different shades of Holi.

“Over the years, many Bollywood movies have used the festival of Holi for major plot development. Be it positive or negative, sad or happy, Bollywood has often used Holi as a metaphor for an impending alteration in the narrative,” says Divyansh Ranjan, a 28-year-old filmmaker from Delhi.

Here is a list of a few iconic plot developments in Bollywood films that were centred around Holi.

Sholay (1975)

Sholay has one of the most exhilarating Holi scene to be ever put on the big screen

The song ‘Holi ke din’ came as a relief amid the high octane dacoit drama in Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra and Hema Malini starrer cult classic Sholay. The film features quite possibly the most exhilarating Holi scene to be ever put on the big screen.

As Veeru and Basanti flirted with a blast of colours, it also showed the silent romance between Jai and Radha. The film’s villain – Gabbar Singh’s iconic dialogue ‘Holi kab hai’ become a trademark of the festival. As part of the song sequence, Gabbar’s men attack Ramgarh, taking advantage of distracted protagonists Jai and Veeru. The sequence also revealed Thakur’s, a character in the film, big secret that he had no arms.

Darr (1993)

In the Yash Chopra directed Darr, Shah Rukh Khan as Rahul professes his love for Juhi Chawla’s character in a Holi scene. Rahul is obsessed with Kiran and stalks her constantly. However, Rahul goes berserk when she gets engaged to Sunil, a navy officer, and he decides to forcefully claim Kiran for himself.

In the popular and terrifying Holi sequence in the film, when Shah Rukh Khan confesses his love to actor Juhi Chawla’s character, portrayed his madness. The infamous line from this scene “I love you k-k-Kiran” and the expressions on Rahul’s face have achieved iconic status as one of the most memorable scenes in Bollywood.

Silsila (1981)

Holi celebration in Silsila is a build-up to an intense plot twist

A Holi song that very easily comes to mind is ‘Rang barse bheege chunar wali’ from Yash Chopra’s Silsila. Sung by Amitabh Bachchan and composed by Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, the song has outlived the film.

The plot revolves around Amit (Amitabh Bachhan), who sacrifices his love and gets married to his deceased brother’s fiancée. However, when fate brings him face-to-face with his former love interest, he has to decide what to do next.

In the movie, this song is a build-up to an intense plot twist. Holi celebration goes on and just before Amit starts singing, Chandni (Rekha) tells Amit’s wife Shobha (Jaya Bhaduri) that she didn’t marry the man she fell in love with. In another corner, Amit makes the same confession to Chandni’s husband Dr Anand (Sanjeev Kumar) and the song follows.

Damini (1993)

Director Rajkumar Santoshi’s Damini revealed that Holi is not only about colourful fluff and happiness. It revolves around the story of Damini (Meenakshi Seshadri) who struggles to get justice for another woman and goes against her family members.

In a pivotal scene in the film, Damini witnesses the rape of her housemaid by her brother-in-law and his friends on the day of Holi. The maid dies in the hospital, the rape is covered up by the family and Damini is the lone crusader for justice till she meets a lawyer played by actor Sunny Deol, who plays a lawyer in the film.

Mohabbatein (2000)

Mohabbatein revolves around three friends, their teacher & how they change their principal’s perspective towards love

Aditya Chopra’s blockbuster Mohabbatein revolves around three friends, their teacher and how they change the strict principal’s perspective towards love. Narayan is a strict principle of Gurukul who forbids his students from following their hearts. However, things take a turn when a music teacher challenges his authority.

The unforgettable scene in the film, where school music teacher Raj, essayed by Shah Rukh Khan, successfully persuades the strict principal of Gurukul- an all-boys boarding school, Narayan Shankar, with a pinch of gulaal (coloured powder). As Amitabh lowers his head for the teeka (colour put on the forehead as a religious symbol), he allows the students to play Holi outside the campus. It also marked the triumph of love as both the characters set their differences apart and come together for this auspicious occasion.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013)

The play with gulaal often helped Bollywood in bringing out the true colours of the characters. Something similar happens in Ayan Mukherji’s superhit film, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.

Naina (Deepika Padukon) meets Kabir (Ranbir Kapoor) during a trekking trip where she falls in love with him but refrains from expressing it. They soon drift apart but end up meeting at a friend’s wedding eight years later.

On the day of Holi in the film, Naina breaks through her innocent image during the festival. Kabir gets stunned to see such a transformation of Naina. The festival also gives Naina a chance to confess her love as Balam Pichkari, a new favourite Holi song for many plays in the background.

With apt lyrics and a real picturisation, it forms an important sequence in the film as Deepika’s character Naina modifies after this into a new personality. The song marks a change of storyline as an eight-year leap follows.



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