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Friday, September 17, 2021

Durga Puja: Bollywood moments that capture Pujo festivities

Bollywood buff Manan Sehgal lists out his five favourite Durga Puja moments from Bollywood films in recent years.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The Pujo season is back! Taking us back to the Kolkata lanes with feasts laid out in every Bengali household and pandal-hopping every evening, Bollywood has many a times captured the essence of the festival with beautiful songs, grand visuals and metaphorical scenes.

Here are 5 Bollywood films that not only celebrate Durga Puja but also align their key plot points with the festivities:

Lootera

lootera
Source: YouTube

Set in 1953, the film opens with an elaborate celebration of Durga Puja in the baadi of the local zamindar. In earlier times the power and influence of zamindari was often exhibited by the scale of festivities. In Lootera, what we see is the time when India was green as an independent republic and zamindari culture was on the verge of ending.

lootera
Source: YouTube

Vikramaditya Motwane used the backdrop of Durga Puja as a graceful depiction of power and setting the scene up for a Lootera to come plunder.

Parineeta 

parineeta dhunuchi scene
Dhunuchi Naach is performed holding a dhunuchi, which contains the burning coconut husk with dhuno sprinkled on it. Dhuno is considered a purifier, a reason it’s offered to gods

A film that gloriously romanticises the old world charm of Calcutta (now Kolkata) has to be Parineeta. With breathtaking visuals and soulful music, Parineeta had something for everyone!

The most crucial plot point of the story is when Lalita and Shekhar, on an auspicious evening of Durga Puja celebration, exchange a gold chain. According to the folklore, on this evening of Pujo, even a mere act of exchanging maala could be deemed as a bond of marriage. What follows is the most tender portrayal of the consummation of their marriage with the sounds of the pooja rituals in the background. 

Pradeep Sarkar here conveys how the pious love between Lalita & Shekhar is divinely blessed! 

Kahaani

kahaani pujo scene

Who does not love this movie, which paints the joy of Kolkata city on screen? If you haven’t yet, please go listen to “Aami Shotti Bolchi” a brilliant Bengali rock number sung by Usha Uthup and Vishwesh Krishnamurthy.

Throughout the film, Vidya (Balan) Bagchi goes around the city looking for her husband and everywhere she goes, we can sense the preparations for the upcoming Durga Pujo festivities. Sculptors getting the Durga Maa idols ready, women shopping, musicians rehearsing for processions, pandaals being decorated and more. Her friend Satyoki even gifts her the Laal Paar saree. All of this leading up to the moment where we are thrown in the midst of the crowd celebrating in fervour! What follows is one of the best film climaxes in the history of Indian Cinema. 

Sujoy Ghosh here leverages the Maha Ashtami to channel Durga Maa via his protagonist – a woman wronged, who stops at nothing to claim her revenge! 

kahaani poster

If you look closely, the film poster smartly shows how the goddess has got the protagonist’s back – Vidya Bagchi is shakti personified!

Vicky Donor 

vicky donor

A game-changing film that along with Ayushmann Khurrana, also (re)launched the genre that Amol Palekar thrived upon! Absolutely refreshing film which not only normalises sperm donation in society but also spruces up the story by bringing together the Punjabi & Bengali cultures.

The romantic plot in this film explores the simmering romance between Ashima & Vicky. During their courtship while they constantly banter about their cultures, there also comes a brief moment when Ashima brings him along to go pandaal hopping during the pujo. This introduces Vicky to a culture he never knew about, which would eventually become a part of his life. 

Shoojit Sircar here juxtaposes the Durga Puja backdrop with a seemingly dominant Punjabi culture, as a premonition to the upcoming intercultural marriage between the Bengali Ashima & Punjabi Vicky.

Devdas 

devdas

Calling Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s films opulent would be an understatement! He leaves no stone unturned in Devdas to showcase the grand scale of his interpretation of the Bengali zamindari culture. The film sets, locations, costumes, colours, jewelry, star cast, music – you name it, everything about this film was visually vibrant. With so much going, enter Durga Puja – Bhansali style!

devdas
As per Hindu tradition, when the idol of Goddess Durga is made, four things are very important. These include mud from the banks of the Ganga, cow dung, cow urine and soil from outside brothels, known as ‘Nishiddho Pallis’, without which the idol is considered incomplete.

Preparations for Durga Puja bring Paro to the doorsteps of Chandramukhi’s humble abode to ask for the soil of her house, to which Chandramukhi obliges.

In return, Paro invites Chandramukhi to her husband’s haweli to attend their Durga Puja celebrations. This is how the woman who Devdas loves and the woman who loves Devdas, come together to celebrate the grandeur of Durga Puja festivities, leading to a moment of revelation that does not end well for Paro.

Bhansali here uses the backdrop of Durga Puja where Paro liberates and empowers her (new) friend Chandramukhi at the cost of her own freedom.  

Don’t let COVID ruin your spirits, enjoy the Pujo this weekend binge-watching these movies and experiencing it vicariously!

Read Also: Durga puja dessert recipes to sweeten your festive season

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