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.
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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