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Holi 2023: Bollywood Loves Its Holi Songs, But What About Consent?

In Bollywood films like 'Darr' and 'Damini', the filmmakers have shown a more sinister side to the celebrations.

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(This story was first published on 7 March 2023. It has been reposted from The Quint's archives in light of Holi 2024.)

Holi, the festival of colours, has been a staple in Bollywood films for decades now; and what better way to celebrate than through a song. From 'Are Ja Re Ja Natkhat' in Navrang (1959) to 'Jai Jai Shivshankar' in War (2019) and more, Bollywood has long used Holi songs to hint at significant plot points.

In Silsila and Aakhir Kyon?, for instance, the protagonist discovers that her partner has an extramarital affair and that acts as a catalyst to the rest of the story. In Sholay, Holi is used both as the calm before the storm and to recount Radha's story.

While recognising the impact of these songs in the films, there is another conversation that must be had. Several Holi songs, especially through their lyrics, often normalise harassment. There is a template in most Holi songs - a woman is usually surrounded by a large group comprising majorly of men, she says no to participating and then eventually "gives in".

This problematic pattern also sees itself reflected in real life. Women and female student-led collectives across India have protested against sexual harassment and eve-teasing during Holi.

There is a culture that needs to change so that every citizen can have a safe and happy Holi, every year.

Watch the video for more.

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Topics:  Silsila   Mohabbatein   Holi 2023 

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