Posts Tagged ‘Ritusamhara’

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 their mighty swings, groups of young ones indulge in much playfulness.

Kalidasa holds monsoon to be the king of all seasons and draws a parallel between sweaty elephants and dark water-laden clouds. The copious rains these bring are even compared to the elixir of life on the lips of offspring: mother’s milk. Peacocks dance in gay abandon. Rainbows get linked to the waistline ornaments of young ladies. Rivers in spate get compared with damsels who flirt with their lovers with gay abandon. In doing so, both are reckless about their own kith and kin. The season unites a separated couple. It also brings about separation between lovers.

Consider some of the couplets from Canto Two of Ritusamhara and few Bollywood songs which come to one’s mind.

“Oh, dear, now the kingly monsoon radiantly shining like a king is arriving with a convoy of rainy clouds as its ruttish elephants; lighting flashes as its pennants and buntings; percussive thunder-claps as its drum beats… welcome it for it is the delight of voluptuous people… [2-1]

Do Bigha Zameen (1953, Bimal Roy)

Chhalia (1960, Manmohan Desai)

Dil To Pagal Hai (1997, Yash Chopra)

“Oh, dear, sheeny are the faces of the deer with their swiftly zipping eyes, which are akin to black-lotuses and to your eyes as well, and they the deer and you, zip your eyes more and more, when there is a thunder or a rumble, then you run into my embrace, as they run to overcrowd the white sand-beds amidst lushly thickets of forests, and this gorgeous beauty of forests and the graceful beauty of yours, all this is promptly rendering the heart highly ecstatic… [2-9]

Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958, Satyen Bose)

1942: A Love Story (1994, Vidhu Vinod Chopra)

Koi Mil Gaya (2003, Rakesh Roshan)

Hum Tum (2004, Kunal Kohli) 2004

“Though the cloud-cover rendered the nights as pitch-dark, and though thundering is thunderous, and though the pathways on ground are indiscernible for it is pitch-black, even in such nights the lover-seeking women are making haste on those paths, that are indiscernibly shown by the flashes of torch-lights, called the flashes of lightning, for they are impassioned to meet their lovers, to all intents and purposes… [2-10]

Kala Bazar (1960, Vijay Anand)

Barsaat Ki Raat (1960, P L Santoshi)

Mera Naam Joker (1972, Raj Kapoor)

“Well decorated are the water-bearing blackish clouds with the wiry flashes of lightning and with rainbows, and they are flashily dangling down with the weight of water, likewise the jewelly ear-hangings and waist-strings of the womenfolk are dangling down that flashily, thus even those vivacious women are instantly stealing the hearts of sojourners, for these exotic women are reminiscent of the lady loves of those sojourners… [2-19]

Parakh (1960, Bimal Roy)

Jeevan Mrityu (1970, Satyen Bose)

Guru (2007, Mani Ratnam)

“These days the women are not applying sandal-paste that is mixed with yellow camphor etc., for it will be too coolant, and hence their limbs are quietly bedaubed with the powder of aloe vera and sandal-paste as bodily scents, and with flowers bedecked as ear-hangings at hairslides, their plaited hairdo is rendered fragrant with these flowers and shampoos, such as they are, they are in the service of their in-laws in their chambers, but on hearing the rumbles of clouds, they are hastening themselves to their own bedchambers, where their men are in long wait, though the nightfall has not fallen that deep…[2-21]

Barsaat (1949, Raj Kapoor)

Milan (1967, Adurthi Subba Rao)

Fanaa (2006, Kunal Kohli)

“In this rainy season when congeries of clouds have showered enough, plethoric is the flowery blossom, hence the womenfolk embed their hairdos with the tassels of Maalati flowers together with Vakula flowers, and with other new blossomy flowers, and the tassels of new buds of Kadamba flowers are pinned and pensile like their ear-hangings, and this has all the hallmarks of lovers, that decorate the hairdos of their lady loves, themselves with their own hands… [2-24]

Chandni (1989, Yash Chopra)

Lamhe (1991, Yash Chopra)

Rudaali (1993, Kalpana Lajmi)

Bollywood uses rains to depict not only the hopes and aspirations of spinsters and the blossoming of romantic affairs of ardent lovers. Once in a while, it also uses the rainy season to capture the moods of separation and melancholy. Some of the compositions and their settings in a movie are quite innovative, and are based on pure classical music, like this one:

Saaz (1997, Sai Paranjpye) 

In Ritusamhara, Kalidasa captures different shades of the rainy season so very eloquently. Luckily for us, he lived and worked in a tropical country and thus included this season in his classic work.

Our dream merchants also do a fine job, armed as they happen to be with a medium which is visual and has a greater potential for engrossing the senses. However, Bollywood songs often lack the emotional depth and societal context which the poet captures in some detail.


  1. Translations of ‘Ritusamhara’ courtesy Mr. Desiraju Hanumanta Rao:


  1. Movie buffs might be surprised at not finding the iconic song from Shri 420 ‘Pyaar hua iqrar hua…’ here. Since it has already been covered in the opening post, one did not wish to repeat it here as well.]

(Related Posts: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/the-six-seasons-of-kalidasa-in-bollywood




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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 our imagination.

How does Bollywood depict summer?  If the hero happens to be an agriculturist, and the script has a situation pertaining to drought, starvation or death, despondency prevails. Prayers get offered to the Rain God. Farmers even repose their faith in a saint-like man who, they believe, has miraculous powers to bring copious rains.

Romance is invariably in the air. Lovers continue to express their sentiments for the party of the other part. Young ladies pine for the company of their beloved, either alone or in the company of a close friend and confidante. Nights, moonlit or otherwise, offer a unique opportunity for a couple to enjoy few moments of privacy. The intoxicating fragrance of flowers cannot be smelt, though the joyful faces of the hero and heroine say it all.

Let us consider translation of some of the couplets of ‘Ritusamhara’ and some Bollywood songs which give us an inkling of the various ways in which our dream merchants depict the summer season.

“Oh, beloved, somewhere the moon is shoving the blackish columns of night aside, somewhere else the palace-chambers are highly exciting with water showering, sprinkling and splashing machines, and elsewhere the matrices of gems like moon-stones, coolant pearls etc are there, and even the pure sandalwood is liquefied with other coolant scents for smearing on bodies… thus, this season is getting an adoration from all the people…” [1-2]

Chori Chori (1956, Anant Thakur)

Dilli Ka Thug (1958, S D Narang)

Silsila (1981, Yash Chopra)

Razia Sultan (1983, Kamal Amrohi)

“Throughout the night the moon beheld the lineaments of damsels comfortably sleeping on white terraced rooftops and he is ecstasised, for he is unpossessed of any such flawless face; for his own face is dented with rabbit or deer; he is becoming pale-faced with the dwindling of night and surely he must be going into hiding as he has no face to face the flawless sun.”[1-9]

Asli-Naqli (1962, Hrishikesh Mukherjee)

Pakeezah (1972, Kamal Amrohi)

Lamhe (1991, Yash Chopra)

“The intolerable westerly wind of the summer is upheaving the clouds of dust; set by the blazing sun even the earth is ablaze; for the itinerants whose hearts are already put to blaze by the blaze called the detachment from their lady loves, now it has become impossible even to look at the blazing earth, to tread further…” [1-10]

Lekin (1991, Gulzar)

 Saathiya (2002, Shaad Ali)

“Certain women with their eagerness to meet their lovers are decorating necklaces on biceps, girdle chains at arms, eye mascara on forehead, and the vermilion mark of forehead – tilaka – on cheeks, and red lipstick as eye mascara etc in ecstatic confusion, which is inciting love in the hearts of itinerants.” [1-12]

Saudagar (1973, Sudhendu Roy)

Utsav (1984, Girish Karnad)

“Extremely withered as though by wildfire and utterly shriveled are the tender stalks of crops; as if windswept by harsh winds they are uprooted and completely wilted and reduced to straw; all over scorched are they in an overall manner as the water is vanished; if seen from highlands till the end of forest, this summer is foisting upon the onlookers a kind of disconcert, as the straw in the wind about the monsoon is unnoticeable.” [1-22]

Guide (1965, Vijay Anand)

Lagaan (2001, Ashutosh Gowariker)

“Oh, dear melodious singer, what if the summer is scorching… fragrant lotuses are overlaid on coolant waters, agreeably refreshing is the fragrance of Trumpet flowers, comfortable is the fresh water in bathing pools, pleasurable are those moonbeams, and with these pearly pendants and these jasmine garlands, let our simmering summer nights enjoyably slip by, while we abide on the tops of buildings right under the moonscape, savouring potations and amidst music and song…” [1-28]

Jaal (1952, Guru Dutt)

Leader (1964, Ram Mukherjee)

Kalidasa also speaks of forest fires and its devastating effect on the flora and fauna. He talks of lions, elephants and buffaloes who roam around with their parched throats. The searing heat makes them forget the natural animosity towards each other. Snakes find a shade beneath the plumage of peacocks, who are otherwise their sworn enemies. Even animals, when they face a mighty challenge of nature, they tend to forget a basic instinct – that of attacking their prey and devouring them.  Social dangers pale in significance when a natural calamity strikes.

“When wildfire scorched their bodies, elephants, buffalos and lions are coming together as friends discarding their dichotomic thinking of mutual hostilities; blighted thus by the fire, they are quickly exiting their habitual confines to enter the areas of rivers that have broad sandbanks…” [1-27]

Bollywood does not appear to have paid much attention to this aspect of Kalidasa’s work.

Admittedly, literature and movies are different genres in the realm of art and entertainment. The endeavour in this series of posts is not to compare Kalidasa’s inimitable works to Bollywood songs. It is merely to connect the dots, as it were, and check if some songs generate the kind of emotions the poet so very poignantly captures in his classical work.


Translations of ‘Ritusamhara’ courtesy Mr. Desiraju Hanumanta Rao (http://www.sanskritdocuments.org/sites/giirvaani/giirvaani/rs/rs_1.htm)]

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/the-six-seasons-of-kalidasa-in-bollywood)


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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 nature. The seasons form a backdrop for the affairs of the heart and the sensuous pleasures of the skin.

The four seasons of Bollywood

Bollywood movies also capitalize on the affairs of the heart. But these use primarily four seasons as a backdrop: Summer, Monsoon, Winter and Spring. Autumn and Pre-winter do not get covered so very explicitly, though the landscape and the situation in the story can often give the viewer a clue about the same.

The following songs readily attest to the concept of four seasons expounded by Bollywood.

Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955, Director: V. Shantaram)

Aap Ki Kasam (1974, Director: J. Om Prakash)

Some Bollywood songs and the lens of Kalidasa

Even though Bollywood explicitly speaks of four seasons, it is tempting to use the lens of Kalidasa to view Bollywood songs.

Bollywood lovers court each other with gay abundance in all the seasons. Seasons often act as a complimentary backdrop to the mood of the hero and the heroine.

Moonlit nights of Summer facilitate singing of melodious songs in gardens with swaying palm trees.

Love Marriage (1959, Subodh Mukherjee)

Monsoon invariably induces a bolder expression of love. Hormones get all charged up.

Shri 420 (1955, Raj Kapoor)

Autumn is the season when lovers pine for each other.

Arzoo (1965, Ramanand Sagar)

Pre-winter is the season of renewed hope for the lovers.

Silsila (1981, Yash Chopra)

Winter ushers in a season of warm embraces and closer encounters of the amorous kind.

Aap Ki Kasam (1974, J. Om Prakash)

Spring is decidedly the season when thoughts of the young ones turn to romance.

Aandhi (1975, Gulzar)

For each of the seasons, a wide variety of songs can be mentioned. In the following posts, we shall review the six seasons of Kalidasa in some detail and try to see if Bollywood has willy-nilly celebrated these in the same spirit as that of the great Sanskrit poet.

Kalidasa’s challenges in the 21st century

Kalidasa, had he been around in our materialistic times, would have surely been laughing all the way to the bank, thanks to the insatiable appetite of Bollywood producers and directors for bolder and raunchier item numbers year after year. Commercial success being the motto, the demand for situations which justify an erotic twist to their scripts would have kept him and his team overworked at all times.

Nevertheless, one doubts if he would have been a happy man. Feminists of all hues would have hounded him no end, perhaps charging him with objectification of women’s anatomies. The delicately nurtured might have taken offence at the graphic details of their intimate affairs. Even those belonging to the tribe of the so-called sterner sex would have registered strong protests, demanding equal rights for their muscular and brawny anatomies also to be covered in the future editions of ‘Ritusamhara’.

Kalidasa might have taken a jaundiced view of the cinematic liberties taken with his scripts. He would have surely protested at being asked to pen inane soulless songs to suit whacky situations – that too with his lyrics expected to fit into a melody which would have already been composed and decided upon.

He would have lamented the lack of reference to nature, flora and fauna in Bollywood’s present day offerings. He would have fervently wished for yet another V. Shantaram to have burst upon the scene, with a delectable offering like this one from the movie Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti of 1967 vintage.

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