Posts Tagged ‘Kalidasa’


KalidasaKalidasa, said to be born in the 4th century AD, is widely regarded as the greatest poet and dramatist in the Sanskrit language.  Had he been alive today, he would have been a very busy man, possibly assisted by a huge team of research assistants, dishing out scripts, dialogues and lyrics for a vast majority of our dream merchants in Bollywood.

His emphasis on capturing the innate beauty of nature might not have enthused many of our present day producers and directors. However, his evocative portrayal of female beauty and the passionate depiction of the affairs of the heart would have surely had the Bollywood movie makers in enthrall.

In his ‘Ritusamhara’ (Medley of Seasons), Kalidasa describes six seasons in his inimitable style: Summer (Greeshma), Monsoon (Varsha), Autumn (Sharad/Patjhad), Pre-winter (Hemant), Winter (Shishir) and Spring (Vasanta). Each one is dealt with evocative descriptions of the elements of…

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When Kalidasa speaks of Summer in Ritusamhara, he not only talks of the hot and dusty earth but also of the comfort of fountains and lily ponds, the moonlit nights spent either on cold slabs of marble or on terraces, the expectations of a good monsoon soon to follow and the affairs of the heart. He touches upon the manner in which lovers prepare for courtship in this harsh season. The use of fragrant flowers and sandal paste gets mentioned. The mention of soft sounds of the anklets worn by lissome damsels fires up one’s imagination.

The poet might as well have alluded to the kind of summer that Pondicherry offers. Howsoever oppressive the heat may feel during the first half of the day, late afternoon onwards, a cool breeze starts blowing in from the sea-side. The trees start swaying with gay abandon. The lily ponds can be forgotten. As the sun starts packing up its bags for a night’s well earned rest and repose, denizens rush to the promenade and enjoy a leisurely stroll thereat.

If the tender coconuts on offer provide succour to a hapless traveller by the day, small garlands made up of fragrant jasmine flowers provide a welcome relief during the evening hours. One’s olfactory senses kick in. The soul drives solace. The colour of either the skin or the hair, which wears such a garland and boasts of such a treat to one’s senses, no longer matters. The mere thought of a leisurely stroll which comes with the perks of an intoxicating aroma wafting in frequently lifts one’s soggy spirits no end.

Vendors peddling frozen desserts and ice creams of all sizes and shapes laugh all the way to their respective banks. Those dishing out fruit juices and smoothies also do brisk business. Owners of outdoor cafes miss their normal rush of customers, who prefer to pop up instead at restaurants which offer air-conditioned comfort. Hotels boasting of swimming pools are hard pressed to accommodate guests who would like to take the plunge. Boutiques which offer organically made perfumes often run out of supplies. Those selling cotton garments never complain of any slackness in their business.

Like the poet envisages, cool rays of moonlight provide great comfort late in the evenings. Just lying on one’s terrace and looking up at the moon makes one forget the harshness of the hot and humid days. The sheer expanse of twinkling stars leaves one invigorated. The skies are invariably clear and one can easily see distant constellations.

The reasons for Pondicherry being attractive during summers are not hard to find. The place is small in size and one does not waste much time commuting from one place to the next. Even though it offers metropolitan comforts, it is not a concrete jungle. Mother Nature still holds sway. Environment is clean. People are friendly and cool.

An early morning dip in the sea perks one up no end. So do boat rides, surf riding and scuba diving. The crowds are lesser, making it a good time to enjoy a peaceful vacation in this little town. With lesser number of people swarming at the beaches, one can enjoy one’s private space at most public places.

As someone who has lived in Pondicherry for over two decades, one finds that the summers were almost 2 degrees cooler in the past than what one finds these days. My favourite spot is a neem tree in the backyard of my house, where I can devour a Blandings story dished out by P G Wodehouse, with a kettle full of green tea by my side, duly accompanied by some cookies.

I am sure you have perfected your own methods of enjoying the summer in Pondicherry. Feel free to share your ideas with me!

(Images courtesy www)

(A version of this appears here: https://www.pondylive.com/simple-pleasures-of-a-pondicherry-summer-starry-nights-sea-breeze-sweat-and-surf)


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The departure of the rainy season leaves us with a weather which is hot and humid. The sky is a clean blue. The sun tends to get merciless yet again but is unable to catch up with the ferocity it displays during summers. Rivers and lakes are full to the brim, but are relatively quieter.

In ‘Ritusamhara’, Kalidasa captures this season as evocatively as he does all others. All the natural features of autumn get compared to either some activity or some ornament of the delicately nurtured. Immaculate moonshine is often said to be veiled by clouds. Twinkling stars get alluded to as jewellery of the autumnal night. Affairs of the heart invariably take centre stage.

Bollywood does not refrain from showing us the beauty of this season in all its glory while the hero and the heroine profess their love for each other. But there is a…

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Uncle Fred and Shakespeare

Yet another sterling example of Wodehouse’s use of Shakespeare is found in Uncle Fred in the Springtime (1939).

When Alaric, Duke of Dunstable decides to take Empress of Blandings away from her loving master and get her fit, Lord Emsworth calls in the services of the redoubtable Uncle Fred. Fred arrives full of the joys of spring, with nephew Pongo Twistleton and old friend Polly Pott in tow, and despite the efforts of the efficient Baxter, endeavours to scupper the Duke and bring together a variety of romantic couplings.

The perils of a financial obligation

‘Beginning by quoting from Polonius’s speech to Laertes, which a surprising number of people whom you would not have suspected of familiarity with the writings of Shakespeare seem to know, Mr Pott had gone on to say that lending money always made him feel as if he were rubbing velvet the wrong way, and that in any case he would not lend it to Pongo, because he valued his friendship too highly. The surest method of creating a rift between two pals, explained Mr Pott, was for one pal to place the other pal under a financial obligation.’

Of Hamlet and optimism

When Pongo Twistleton takes a pessimistic view of the plan hatched by Lord Ickenham, the latter consoles Polly thus.

‘I hope he isn’t frightening you, Polly.’
‘He is.’
‘Don’t let him. When you get to know Pongo better,’ said Lord Ickenham, ‘you will realize that he is always like this — moody, sombre, full of doubts and misgivings. Shakespeare drew Hamlet from him. You will feel better, my boy, when you have had a drink. Let us nip round to my club and get a swift one.’

Of poets being commercial

When Ricky tries to strike a deal with Duke, a comment on poets having a keen eye on royalty returns pops up.

‘Poets, as a class, are business men. Shakespeare describes the poet’s eye as rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven, and giving to airy nothing a local habitation and a name, but in practice you will find that one corner of that eye is generally glued on the royalty returns. Ricky was no exception. Like all poets, he had his times of dreaminess, but an editor who sent him a cheque for a pound instead of the guinea which had been agreed upon as the price of his latest morceau was very little older before he found a sharp letter on his desk or felt his ear burning at what was coming over the telephone wire.’

The art of soliloquising

Of Aunts who soliloquise

Many of those who belong to the so-called sterner sex might appreciate the sentiment expressed here:

‘As far as the eye could reach, I found myself gazing on a surging sea of aunts. There were tall aunts, short aunts, stout aunts, thin aunts, and an aunt who was carrying on a conversation in a low voice to which no body seemed to be paying the slightest attention. I was to learn later that this was Miss Emmeline Deverill’s habitual practice, she being the aunt of whom Corky had spoken as the dotty one. From start to finish of every meal she soliloquised. Shakespeare would have liked her.’
[The Mating Season (1949)]

When smoking habits come under the lens

Lancelot Bingley, an upcoming young artist, is engaged to Gladys Wetherby, a poetess, who not only has great skill with the pen but also has the face and figure of a superior kind of pin-up girl. However, for them to be able to take a saunter down the aisle, financial support from Gladys’ Uncle Francis, an obese game hunter, is necessary.

Lancelot gets commissioned to paint a portrait of Uncle Francis, who is known to abhor tobacco in any form. However, Lancelot decides to smoke a quiet cigar in the garden when Uncle and her magnificent cook happen to come along. Hamlet gets invoked.

“That, or something like it, was what I said, and I dived into the shrubbery. The voices came nearer. Someone was approaching, or rather I should have said that two persons were approaching, for if there had been only one person approaching, he would hardly have been talking to himself. Though, of course, you do get that sort of thing in Shakespeare. Hamlet, to take but one instance, frequently soliloquised.”

[A good cigar is a smoke (Plum Pie, 1966)]

When hesitation takes over

In order to maintain matrimonial harmony, Bingo Little needs to establish an alibi which would undo the damage done since Rosie M Banks has discovered a photo of his in the Mirror, which shows him being led by a gruff policeman along with Miss Mabel Murgatroyd, a redhead of singular beauty.

Freddie Widgeon gets consulted at the Drones. The option of shoving his chin out and saying ‘So what?’ to the love of his life is ruled out. Freddie then reminds him of the old gag about ‘women being tough babies in the ordinary run of things but becoming ministering angels when pain and anguish wring the brow.’ An accident must come about. Getting hit by a cab is not favoured. An idea of a typewriter falling on Bingo’s toe then takes shape. Back in his Wee Tots office, Bingo attempts it.

When it comes to describing a state of hesitation, Shakespeare comes to one’s aid.

‘It really began to seem as if Freddie Widgeon’s typewriter-on-toe sequence was his only resource, and he stood for some time eyeing the substantial machine on which he was wont to turn out wholesome reading matter for the chicks. He even lifted it and held it for a moment poised. But he could not bring himself to let it fall. He hesitated and delayed. If Shakespeare had happened to come by with Ben Jonson, he would have nudged the latter in the ribs and whispered “See that fellow, rare Ben? He illustrates exactly what I was driving at when I wrote that stuff about letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would’ like the poor cat in the adage.”

[Bingo bans the bomb (Plum Pie, 1966)]

Of Humour, Humourists and the Bard

Plum held the Bard in high esteem. He once said that “Shakespeare’s stuff is different from mine, but that is not to say that it is inferior.” The frequent use of Shakespearean phrases by Plum merely attests to the same.

Even when putting across a note on humour, Plum does not hesitate to quote the Bard.

“I only asked him how many crows can nest in a grocer’s jerkin. Just making conversation.”
“And what was his reply? Tinkling like a xylophone, he gave that awful cackling laugh of his and said ‘A full dozen at cockcrow, and something less under the dog star, by reason of the dew, which lies heavy on men taken with the scurvy’. Was that sense?”
“It was humour.”
“Who says so?”
“Shakespeare says so.”
“Who’s Shakespeare?”
“All right, George.”
“I never heard of any Shakespeare.”
“I said all right, George. Skip it.”
“Well, anyway, you can tell him from now on to keep his humour to himself, and if he hits me on the head just once more with that bladder of his, he does it at his own risk.”
[A Note on Humour (Plum Pie, 1966)]

How about a Plummy Kalidasa?!

Those familiar with the works of Kalidasa, a poet known for his delicately romantic works in the Sanskrit language, could justifiably rue the fact that Plum, a romantic at heart himself, never got around to quoting him. If a translation had been used by Plum, his fans would have had an even richer harvest to feast upon.

Imagine a distraught Gussie Fink Nottle pining for Madeline Bassett and sending messages to her through clouds passing by above, a la Meghadootam. An exchange of letters and telegrams would have no longer been necessary. Clouds would have acted as a means of communication – a prospect which the younger lot exposed to the Internet of Things and Cloud Computing these days would have thoroughly approved of.

Ritusamhara, a compendium of lover’s escapades across diverse seasons, would have made rich contributions to the lake side jaunts of Honoria Glossop with Bertie Wooster, what with the latter scheming to push her younger brother into the lake waters. With Kalidasa’s support, the description of a harsh winter evening in Something Fresh – when Ashe Marson is being escorted to Blandings Castle – would have got bolstered no end.

A Plummy Shakespeare

Die-hard fans of The Bard might not be too amused at the Plummy version of the ageless poet. Some linguistic purists might also register a protest, possibly composing a nasty e-mail or two even as you read this piece, if piece is indeed the word I want. But there shall never be a doubt as to the additional layer of rich Shakespearean icing dished out by P G Wodehouse on top of so many of his oh-so-delicious Plum cakes, adding to the delight of his fans worldwide.


Inputs received from some ardent fans of Wodehouse are gratefully acknowledged. 

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After a long spell of a harsh summer, the monsoon ushers in a season of joy and relief. The aroma of the scorched earth touched by the first torrent of rains is intoxicating. Birds and beasts are equally delighted. The whole nature changes its texture.

This is indeed the season where Bollywood outdoes itself. Farmers rejoice. Those who are lonely go about dancing in the rain, hoping that a beloved would be discovered soon enough. Lissome heroines prance about in their fully drenched attires, performing dance steps which could put an Olympic gymnast to shame. When it gets pitch dark, lightning helps young ladies to locate their lovers.

Courtship reaches a higher level of intensity. Hormones run amok. Sounds of thunder make the heroine cling closer to the hero. Those who have lost their beloveds to the harsh workings of Fate fondly recollect their lady-love in this season. Perched on…

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With the advent of spring, the fancy of our young ones would lightly turn to thoughts of love. Mother Nature would wholly approve. In the upper reaches, snow would have just started melting. Plants and shrubs would have started springing back to life. Green shoots would have started becoming visible. Flowers would be in full bloom. Birds and bees would be going about their daily chores. Sun would be shining through, albeit a little gently. A pleasant breeze laced with the sweet fragrance of flowers would be caressing our physical frames. Streams would be flowing with their gentle murmur. God may or not be in Heaven but a clear sky would be providing a perfect backdrop for the couples who happen to be in love.

In Ritusamhara, Kalidasa mentions that during this season, women are more enchanting. Sandal paste and other substances are often used to contain the spring…

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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…

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With the advent of spring, the fancy of our young ones would lightly turn to thoughts of love. Mother Nature would wholly approve. In the upper reaches, snow would have just started melting. Plants and shrubs would have started springing back to life. Green shoots would have started becoming visible. Flowers would be in full bloom. Birds and bees would be going about their daily chores. Sun would be shining through, albeit a little gently. A pleasant breeze laced with the sweet fragrance of flowers would be caressing our physical frames. Streams would be flowing with their gentle murmur. God may or not be in Heaven but a clear sky would be providing a perfect backdrop for the couples who happen to be in love.

In Ritusamhara, Kalidasa mentions that during this season, women are more enchanting. Sandal paste and other substances are often used to contain the spring fever. The earth shines like a well decked bride in a red bridal costume. Those who happen to be lonely suffer the most in this pitiless season, as they happen to be missing the company of their beloved.

Bollywood celebrates the spring season with much ado and fervour. Dashing heroes, on their way to a new destination, would be soaking in the grandeur of nature. Sprightly heroines would be becoming aware of their own flawless beauty, often comparing it to different elements of nature. 

Madhumati (1958, Bimal Roy)

Shagird (1967, Samir Ganguly) 

Elsewhere, lissome heroines would be getting wooed by ardent heroes who would be praising their charms no end. Lovers would be teasing each other, running around trees and shrubs. Couples would be busy romancing in lush green valleys and gardens.

Suraj (1966, T Prakash Rao)

Buddha Mil Gaya (1971, Hrishikesh Mukherjee)

Aap Aaye Bahaar Aayee (1971, Mohan Kumar)

Here are some couplets from the Sixth Canto of Ritusamhara, and some Bollywood songs which these remind us of.

“Oh, dear, vernal trees are full with flowers, waters filled with lotuses, breezes loaded with their fragrances blowing agreeably, thereby both the eventides and daytimes are pleasant with those fragrant breezes, whereby the women are with concupiscence, and thus everything is highly pleasing now. [6-2]

Mamta (1966, Asit Sen)

Aradhana  (1969 Shakti Samanta)

Abhinetri (1970, Subodh Mukherjee)

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998, Karan Johar)

“The impassioned male koel, black singing bird, gladdened on savouring the invigorative essence of just grown mango flowers is now kissing his love passionately; so also this honeybee, abiding in lotuses savouring their nectar, is passionately mating with his love to her complaisance, sequestered in the petals of lotuses. [6-14]

Jewel Thief (1967, Vijay Anand)

Ghar (1978, Manik Chatterjee)

Chashme Baddoor (1981, Sai Paranjpye)

Chandni (1989, Yash Chopra)

“Passion is surging out in male kokila -s, singing birds, as they obtained jollity in this springtime on chewing mango flowers, thus they are singing inexplicably; honeybees, when drunk with the flowery nectar of those flowers, they are also droning hums murmuringly as their drinking song; with these hums and drones the hearts of new brides are flustered in a trice, even if they are in the service of their in-laws, where certain docility and prudishness are in demand.  [6-21]

Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955, V Shantaram)

Guide (1965, Vijay Anand)

Chupke Chupke (1975, Hrishikesh Mukherjee)

Hum Aapke Hain Kaun…! (1994, Sooraj Barjatya)

“These days the pleasure gardens are brightened up with whitely jasmines similar to the toothy grins of sprightly brides, and hence they are heart-stealing even for saints or sages that have neutralised their materialistic indulgences long back; as such, these gardens must have stolen the hearts of youths that are already tainted with seasonal sensualities. [6-23]

Teesri Manzil (1966, Vijay Anand)

Bobby (1973, Raj Kapoor)

Mausam (1975, Gulzar)

Chitchor (1976, Basu Chatterjee)


“On seeing a flowered mango tree, the frame of mind of any itinerant is overly woebegone, for he is dissociated with his ladylove; thus he shuts his eyes unable to behold that ladylike mango tree with her hairdo overlaid with flowers; obstructs his nose, for the fragrance of this ladylike mango tree is akin to that of his ladylove; thus he goes into a state of woefulness, and even he bewails and shrieks loudly… thus pitiless is this season, vasanta , spring, for singletons. [6-26]

Saranga (1961, Dhirubhai Desai)

Mere Mehboob (1963, H S Rawail)

Mehbooba (1976, Shakti Samanta)

Filhaal (2002, Meghna Gulzar)


“Delightful is this flowery month with the racketing of lusty honeybees and kokila-s around; with flowered mango trees that fruit sweet mangos; with karniakra flowers; each of which is becoming as though an acute of arrow of Love god, that ecstasies and even cleaves the hearts of self-respectful women, who cannot explicitly explain their pangs for love, nor can suffer them, implicitly… [6-27]

Akhri Khat (1966, Chetan Anand)

Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam (1962, Abrar Alvi)

Anand (1971, Hrishikesh Mukherjee)

Khushboo (1975, Gulzar)


Just before the spring season ends, Holi, the delightful festival of colours, comes about and heralds the onset of summer. Kalidasa does not speak of this, but Bollywood loses no opportunity of showcasing this festival. Here are some of the ways in which it depicts the playful splash of colours.

Mother India (1957, Mehboob Khan)

Silsila (1981, Yash Chopra)

Darr (1993, Yash Chopra)

Baghban (2003, Ravi Chopra)


There is no doubt as to the evocative manner in which the poet has captured the affairs of the heart across all seasons. The manner in which he has captured the beauty of nature in all of his works, let alone in Ritusamhara, is exemplary.

Our dream merchants also follow the romantic affairs of love birds with equal alacrity. However, over the past few decades, the importance attached to nature has declined. Just as the social mores have changed, our lyricists have tried to keep pace with the commercial demands placed on them. The role of poetry has regrettably declined, leading to soulless and inane songs which have limited shelf life.

Hopefully, this is part of a cyclical phenomenon, just like all our seasons happen to be. A renaissance of sorts and a meaningful evolution is what one looks forward to.

Post Script: 

Throughout this series of posts on Kalidasa, movie buffs could be excused for lamenting the overbearing presence of old songs and a relative absence of recent songs. This has possibly come about because of the manner in which the presentation techniques of our directors and cinematographers have evolved over the years.

In the older songs, the camera used to be relatively stable and the whole song presented against the backdrop of a single season. At the most, the dresses worn by the main protagonists would keep changing from one scene/stanza to the next.

In recent times, with crisper editing and a far more dynamic camera, the hero and the heroine often get captured in different seasons and at different locations in a single song, thereby making the task of identifying a song with a single season rather challenging.

[Note: Translation of ‘Ritusamhara’ courtesy Mr. Desiraju Hanumanta Rao: http://www.sanskritdocuments.org/sites/giirvaani/giirvaani/rs/rs_6.htm]


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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)


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In Ritusamhara, Kalidasa paints a highly romantic picture of the pre-winter season. Given the lower temperatures, metallic embellishments get avoided by the delicately nurtured. The fabric chosen for clothing undergoes a subtle change. The pastes and lotions to be applied to the body are different. Liquors come into play. Passions get aroused by the sheer promise of the winter season which is yet to arrive.

When it comes to capturing different shades of passion and putting across suggestions of love-making, Bollywood is never found wanting. Snow-covered mountains, gently murmuring rivulets, enchanting lakes, flying birds and lotuses in bloom form the perfect backdrop for romantic songs. Heroes can be seen aggressively pursuing lissome heroines clad in figure-enhancing dresses.

Here are some of the couplets from Canto Four of Ritusamhara and the kind of songs which could possibly do some justice to the poet’s evocative portrayal of nature and romance.

“Delightful are trees and fields with the outgrowth of new tender-leaves and crops; Lodhra trees are with their blossomy flowers, crops of rice are completely ripened, but now lotuses are on their surcease by far, for the dewdrops are falling. Hence, this is the time of pre-winter that drew nigh. [4-1]

Hamraaz (1967, B R Chopra)

Jewel Thief (1967, Vijay Anand)

Silsila (1981, Yash Chopra)

Veer-Zaara (2004, Yash Chopra)

“Unbearable is the touch of metallic circlets on wrists and bicep-lets on upper-arms of the couple of arms of vivacious women, or the touch of new silk cloths on the discoid of their waistline, or fine fabric on their robust breasts. [4-4]

Madhumati (1958, Bimal Roy)

Bees Saal Baad (1962, Biren Nag)

Chandni (1989, Yash Chopra)

“Overspread with abundant rice crops and ornamented with herds of she-deer, and delightfully reverberated by the ruddy geese, with their calls and counter-calls, the complacent corridors of confines are captivating hearts. [4-8]

Dharti Kahe Pukar Ke (1969, Dulal Guha)

Aradhana (1969, Shakti Samanta)

Prem Pujari (1970, Dev Anand)

Saathiya (2002, Shaad Ali)


“Now the lakes are adorned with fully blossomed black-lotuses, and elaborated with swan-like water fowls in their excitement, and sheeted with considerably coldish waters that are depurated, thus these lakes are stealing the hearts of men, for men look up to them as the visages of women that are with black-lotus-like hairdo, with swan like eyes, and whose bodies are cold, wanting a warm hug. [4-9]

Hum Dono (1961, Amarjeet, Vijay Anand)

Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962, Raj Khosla)

 Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963, Biren Nag, Vijay Anand)

Who Kaun Thi? (1964, Raj Khosla)

Sangam (1964, Raj Kapoor)

Kabhie Kabhie (1976, Yash Chopra)


“Oh, dear, the Priyangu plants that give fragrant seeds are ripened by the snow caused coldness, and they are frequently wobbled by the snowy winds, and they now appear like the fragrant and frisky women gone into paleness and wobbliness by their dissociation from their lovers. [4-10]

Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965, Suraj Prakash)

Prem Pujari (1970, Dev Anand)

Aandhi (1975, Gulzar)

“Let this season hemanta, dew fall, pleasant with many an attribute, a stealer of the hearts of women, fields of villages abundantly overspread with rice-crop, sky overlaid with garlands of ruddy geese flights, and which always is a heart-pleasing season, endow comfort to all of you passionate people. [4-18]

Waqt (1965, Yash Chopra)

Dil To Pagal Hai (1997, Yash Chopra)

Saathiya (2002, Shaad Ali)

Veer Zara (2004, Yash Chopra)

Lakshya (2004, Farhan Akhtar)


During this season, the sky is a clear blue, the water is sparkling clean and the trees are lush green. Flowers are in full bloom and fields are about to deliver a bountiful harvest to humanity. Snow has just started reminding us that winter is not too far away.

Kalidasa captures the pre-winter season in all its glory, interspersed with some details of passionate love-making. Bollywood strives hard to catch up with the poet and, quite understandably, leaves much to the imagination of the viewers. Poets obviously enjoy certain degrees of freedom which our dream merchants lack, though they often make up for it by bringing in lewd lyrics and suggestive body gyrations in what are euphemistically referred to as ‘item numbers.’

[Note: Translation of ‘Ritusamhara’ courtesy Mr. Desiraju Hanumanta Rao:http://www.sanskritdocuments.org/sites/giirvaani/giirvaani/rs/rs_4.htm]


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