In Ritusamhara, Kalidasa uses the season of winter to give his readers a sneak peek into the inner chambers of houses where couples are eager to get reunited. Given his flair for romance, he does not disappoint. He touches upon the use of intoxicants and the amorous intentions of women of age. He speaks of the agony of the air trapped between intimate body parts of a couple who are in a tight embrace. He talks of the dressing behavior of women in the mornings after they have experienced intense love-making during the preceding night.
Bollywood is not far behind in giving its viewers a sneak peek into the private moments of a couple. In fact, with each passing year, the envelope only gets pushed further and bedroom scenes become bolder and steamier. But to do so, our dream merchants do not necessarily depend upon the winter season alone. For them, any season is good enough for passionate love-making. In fact, they capitalize on the winter season by capturing the scintillating outdoors on celluloid. A vast snow-covered landscape forms the perfect backdrop for a scantily clad heroine and a well-groomed hero to profess their love for each other.
Here are some of the couplets from Canto Five of Ritusamhara, followed by few songs which come to one’s mind.
“Sandal-paste cool like moonbeams, building tops pleasant with immaculate moonshine, or sleet chilled dense breezes… presently none of them is delightful for the people. [5-3]
Aman (1967, Mohan Kumar)
Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1973, Manmohan Desai)
Phir Kab Milogi (1974, Hrishikesh Mukherjee)
Roja (1992, Mani Ratnam)
“Taking betel leaves and their enclosing material like lime, areca-nut parings, and other fragrant material for chewing, besides handling body creams and tassels of flowers, for it is cool to wear them on, women folk with their lotus-like faces that are fragranced with delightful recreational drinks are enthusiastically entering their bedchambers that are desirably fragranced with the fumigation of aloe vera resin. [5-5]
Geet Gaya Pattharon Ne (1964, V Shantaram)
Chandni (1989, Yash Chopra)
Parineeta (2005, Pradeep Sarkar)
“On entering bedchambers seen are the irritant husbands irritating for the arrival of their wives; but these husbands were at fault once for which they were daunted repeatedly earlier, for which they are now wavery as hesitation ciphered their hearts; on looking at such husbands who are now longing for lovemaking, the lustful women overlooking their faults are joining them, lest time and opportunity fritters away… thus this season unites couples, though they are at loggerheads… [5-6]
Suhagan (1964, K S Gopalakrishnan)
Anubhav (1971, Basu Bhattacharya)
Mausam (1975, Gulzar)
Darr (1993, Yash Chopra)
“With their discoid faces just cleansed with water looking more like golden lotuses, on which wide and medially whitish eyes whose edges touch the edges of ears, and with just cleansed hair dangling and clasping their shoulders, those women of age that are snugly in the heart of their houses in these days, appear to be many a personified prosperity, goddess Lakshmis, amidst her golden lotuses. [5-13]
An Evening in Paris (1967, Shakti Samanta)
Saudagar (1973, Sudhendu Roy)
Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995, Aditya Chopra)
Fanaa (2006, Kunal Kohli)
“In this season, new sugar-candies and their modified sweetmeats will be abundant, new rice relishable, new sugar-cane juice delightful, disport of lovemaking intensified for the hauteur of Love God occasions anew, but this season alone will be the cause for scorching the hearts of those that are devoid of their loved ones; however, let this winter season be always bring propitiousness to you all. [5-16]
Junglee (1961, Subodh Mukherjee)
Sangam (1964, Raj Kapoor)
Maachis (1996, Gulzar)
Veer-Zaara (2004, Yash Chopra)
Here is a medley of Bollywood winter songs entitled ‘Bollywood’s Winter Wonderland’ which some of you may like.
Writers and poets enjoy much greater degrees of freedom in expression when they decide to depict romantic affairs. Their vision can touch intimate spaces where even sun rays cannot aspire to reach.
Kalidasa is often referred to as the supreme poet of the senses and of aesthetic beauty, and rightly so.
Over the past few decades, Bollywood has willy-nilly evolved into a money-making arena, where style often rules over substance, where glamour invariably overrides content, where a loud orchestra often dominates inane lyrics and where raw displays of an erotic nature mostly take precedence over a depiction of refined sensuousness. The ‘success’ of a movie is now measured in terms of money and not in terms of either its content or its artistic orientation. Once in a while, one does come across some sensible and exceptional movies, but these remain mere exceptions.
One hopes that Bollywood would soon come out of this phase of its thematic and lyrical winter and enter into an exciting new spring of fresh ideas, richer content, soulful lyrics and soothing music.
(Note: Translation of ‘Ritusamhara’ courtesy Mr. Desiraju Hanumanta Rao:http://www.sanskritdocuments.org/sites/giirvaani/giirvaani/rs/rs_5.htm)