Indian culture through Bollywood's lens

Picturesque locations, sprawling spaces, grand sets, colourful decorations and women decked up in all their finery and accessories – this is how Bollywood celebrates the traditional Indian festivals. In fact some of the festivals that were only celebrated as age old traditions have become glamorised and are more keenly celebrated than ever – such as Dahi Handi and Ganesh Chaturthi, and the big factor behind this change is our Hindi cinema. While Diwali and Holi and sometimes Karva Chauth used to be the only few festivals that our earlier generation of film lovers got to see, the filmi kaleidoscope, over the years, has expanded much broader to now include lesser known festivals such as Durga Puja (in the film Kahaani), Ganesh Chaturthi (in films like Don remake and Agneepath remake) and Navratri (in the recent release Kai Po Che). All these festivals have time and again found space in Hindi movies once in a while, if not frequently, in the form of either a theme, scene, song or a reference point. Here’s a sneak peak at how Bollywood celebrates some of the most popular Indian festivals in true blue filmi style…     
Diwali song from Mohabbatein

While there were films like in the 1940s and 50s like Diwali in 1940 , Ghar Ghar Mein Diwali in 1955 and Diwali Ki Raat 1956 that had Diwali as its central theme, it was Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham that gave Diwali a glamourised twist. The image of Jaya Bachchan waiting for her son played by Shah Rukh Khan, with a puja ki thali in her hand, as the entire household breaks into a song and dance routine is something that’s etched in most of Hindi film lovers’ minds.
Other than K3G, movies like Mohabbetein, Chachi 420, Aamdani Athhanni Kharcha Rupaiya used Diwali to bring in either the climax or to take the story forward.  

Deepika and Ranbir celebrate Holi in style in Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani
Bollywood's relationship with Diwali is not as deep as with Holi. From playful Holi songs to climaxes happening because of Holi to our hero and heroine falling in love with colors splashing in the background… Holi has been a part of Bollywood from ages. Filmmakers' have always welcomed a chance to sprinkle the screen with colour - be it through Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha's bhang induced Rang Barse from Silsila or Dharmendra and Hema Malini’s masti in Holi Ke Din from Sholay or Rajesh Khanna’s flirtious Khelenge Hum Holi with Asha Parekh from Kati Patang.
Holi definitely brings people closer to one another - be it friends, relatives or lovers. No wonder, our film directors, time and again have used Holi celebrations as a perfect occasion to either make friends with your rutha yaar (Aaj Na Chhodenge from Kati Patang), or to find your khoya pyaar (Rang Di from Dhanwaan), and if everything else fails then do thodi ched chaad (Ang Se Ang Lagana from Darr).
The last movie to have a full-fledged Holi song was Action Replayy in 2010 where Aishwarya Rai Bachchan unleashed her mischievousness in a fun song Jali Toh. Now, the hot and happening pair of Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone are all set to make a huge Holi splash in their forthcoming film Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani with the song Balam Pichkari.  

The famous Karva Chauth song, Leja Leja, from K3G

Karva Chauth
Karva Chauth as a festival used to be a very private affair with ladies observing a full day fast for the long life of their husbands, but thanks to Bollywood, Karva Chauth too has got a glamourised makeover and is celebrated by all and sundry.  Just like Holi and Diwali, the festival of Karva Chauth too gives our filmi people a chance to showcase grand sets, grand decorations and even grander emotions.
The credit for projecting Karva Chauth as a larger than life festival goes to Sooraj Barjatya and his cult film Hum Aapke Hain Koun that showed the entire family participating in the festivities. After that came Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol starrer Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. The film took the popularity of this festival to an altogether different level, with people from all over India beginning to celebrate the festival. Such was the popularity of the film and the Karva Chauth sequence that keeping Karva Chauth fast became a symbol of true love.
The trend was carried forward by films like Judaai, Biwi No.1, Raja Hindustani, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Baaghban, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and many more.

Hrithik Roshan celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi in Agneepath
Ganesh Chaturthi
Whether it is on account of Bollywood being located in Mumbai or just the love of devotees for Lord Ganesha, his towering presence is seen off and on in Hindi films. The elephant God who is a symbol of good luck and prosperity keeps making his presence felt either through faith of the characters, through narrative and even through happy endings – but most of all through songs as a symbol of love and strength. The recent example being that of Karan Johar’s Agneepath, where a complete song, in the form of an Aarti, Shri Ganesha Deva, was dedicated to lord Ganesha. Incidentally the song also served as a major turning point for the film. Ditto with the original Agneepath starring Amitabh Bachchan and Mithun Chakraborty, where the duo sing Ganpati Apne Gaon Chale.
If Amitabh Bachchan has done it, how can Shah Rukh Khan not do it? Following Big B’s footsteps in the remake of Don, SRK even went a step ahead and danced to Mourya Re, inviting Ganpati bapa’s blessings. Similarly Salman Khan danced to Mera Hi Jalwa in his film Wanted and since then Sallu bhai has been spreading his jalwa in the form of back-to-back hits.
Deva Ho Deva Ganpati Deva from the movie Hum Paanch is another classic that one can listen too across pandals and on streets during and around Ganesh Chaturthi.