There’s a sharp nip in the air. The colours of nature change, as she sheds the old, prepares to rest and rejuvenate. Around the same time of the year, a vast majority of the Indian subcontinent explodes in joy to celebrate this period. Navratri is one of the most significant festivals of Hindus celebrated across the world. Navratri which means ‘Nine Nights’ is an Indian festival that is celebrated in different states of India, the essential message of the festival being ‘good always triumphs over evil’.
The Hindi film industry has some beautiful interpretations of Navratri; the theme of Ramayana has been used as the narrative thread in ‘Delhi 6’; Durga Pooja was used as a powerful backdrop to the climax of the film, ‘Kahani’.
Navratri is a community event where entire families come out together and revel in the celebrations. Dance and music have always been inherent in the Indian culture, and this aspect of the festival has been explored through various song and dance sequences which are often the highlight of the movies they feature in.
BizAsiaLive.com looks at some of the popular Bollywood tracks that are played regularly during Navratri.
Dola Re Dola – ‘Devdas’ (2002)Set in the Bengali milieu, the song begins with the traditional ‘Uludhwani’, a unique hooting sound made by Bengali women during auspicious occasions to ward off the evil eye. The setting is a gorgeous Durga pooja mandal with ‘alpona’ or the traditional Bengali floor decorations, adorning the venue. ‘Dola Re’ featured the two most stunning women in the industry – Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai. The dance was classical based and was choreographed by the perfectionist dance master, late Saroj Khan. The song took sixteen days to complete, and till date, remains a landmark dance sequence.
Pal Pal Hai Bhaari – ‘Swades’ (2004)The exposition of the Ramayana, is one of the ways Navratri is celebrated, in the form of a dance drama or a musical. This song, set in a rural village showcases the whole tradition of storytelling during Navratri, using music, dance and dialogues. A gentle melodious song, it depicts the anguish of Sita as she waits for her Lord Rama. Performed by Gayatri Joshi, Rajesh Vivek and Shahrukh Khan, it is in the form of a musical drama. There is a whole scene post the dance, where the protagonist, Mohan played by Shahrukh Khan, exhorts the villagers to conquer the ‘evils’ within rather than external enemies.
Shubhaarambh – ‘Kai Po Che’ (2013)‘Shubaarambh’ is a vibrant, lilting Garba number. Garba is a traditional folk dance that is performed on all auspicious occasions, especially during Navratri. The music, that has vocals, ‘dhol’ (drum) accompaniment typically starts off at a slow pace, and reaches a crescendo. Incidentally this movie did indeed herald new beginnings for three talented new actors; the late SushanSingh Rajput, Rajkumar Rao and Amit Sadh. The song was performed by Rajkumar Rao and Shruti Puri, as their characters move towards a relationship through the song.
Chogada – ‘Loveyatri’ (2018)A lively, youthful number, the song was set in the streets of London. Unlike the traditional concentric dance, it was performed as a Garba Flash dance, choreographed by Vaibhavi Merchant. The vision of the director was clear; he has been quoted as saying he wanted to transform the streets of London, into the colourful vibe of the Baroda streets during Navratri. A popular number at most dance parties, the song features the debutants Aayush Sharma and Warina Hussain.
Dholida – ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ (2022)Predicted to be a sure-fire hit this year during Navratri, Dholida features the one of the most powerful actresses of this decade, Alia Bhatt. As with traditional Garba, the ‘dhol’ features prominently in the song. The dance performed by Gangubai and her girls on the streets of Kamathipura, depicts freedom, passion and has an almost trance like effect on the viewer. Choreographed by National award winner, Kruti Mahesh, the dance is still winning accolades world over.
Dance Ka Bhoot – ‘Brahmastra’ (2022)This peppy, dance number performed by Ranbir Kapoor, is a visually spectacular feast for the eyes.The interesting thing is it has both the Ramayana and Durga presented in the celebration of Navratri. The song has a massive ensemble of dancers much like a festive garba celebration with a combination of folk music & electronica (ode to the main protagonist Shiva who is a DJ). It ends with a magnificent Ravan Dahan or burning of the effigy of Ravan.
This year, Navratri promises to be special. As the world moves out of a tough couple of years, people are gearing up to celebrate cautiously, with a poignant sadness for the past, gratitude for the present, prayer on the lips, and hope for the years to come. It is indeed a time to celebrate the spirit of joy and togetherness.
By Tejusvini Varadachari