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Declining Diwali presence in Hindi movies

Mumbai: Releasing a film during Diwali, one of the biggest festivals in India, might be a sure way of earning good revenues, but over the years, the presence of this festivity on celluloid has diminished noticeably. Like many other festivals in India, including holi, dahi handi and Ganesh festival, Diwali used to find space in Hindi movies once in a while, if not frequently, in the form of a theme, scene, song or a reference point. However, now, it seems the filmmakers have completely stopped bringing `Diwali` on screen.

"Today there is no major Diwali happening on screen…in films. Filmmakers are experimenting with a new genre and are looking for innovation. With Bollywood reaching global platforms, filmmakers want to make movies that appeal to both Indian and global audiences," Director Anees Bazmee told PTI.

In the past, there were movies woven around the subject of Diwali, like the 1940 film – `Diwali` directed by Jayant Desai, Gajanan Jagirdar`s film titled `Ghar Ghar Mein Diwali` (1955), followed by Deepak Asha`s `Diwali Ki Raat` (1956). Around 2001, megastar Amitabh Bachchan`s production company ABCL planned to make a film titled `Happy Diwali` with Aamir Khan and Rani Mukherjee. However, the project failed to take off due to some unknown reasons.

Afterwards, some filmmakers used Diwali as a reference point in their film. Karan Johar`s 2001 hit movie `Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham` had a scene on Diwali, which was used to show how times changed for the Raichand family. The film opens with a scene, in which, characters played by Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan perform a Diwali puja. In Aditya Chopra`s `Mohabbetein` (2000) Diwali signified a union of three characters played by Uday Chopra, Jugal Hansraj and Jimmy Shergill with their beloved, played by Shamita Shetty, Kim Sharma and Preeti Jhangiani respectively.

Kamal Hasan`s 1998 release,`Chachi 420` had a scene, in which, the daughter of the character played by Hasan gets injured by a firecracker. The 1972 film `Anurag` showed how an entire neighbourhood comes together to celebrate Diwali to fulfill the last wish of a child played by Satyajeet, who suffers from cancer, before his death.

"Bollywood moved from Diwali themes to scenes and then to songs. This shows things have changed and so has the content. It all depends upon the demand and requirement of the script," film trade analyst Komal Nahta said.

Songs on Diwali had also become quite popular. For the 1943 film, `Kismat`, Amirbai sang `Ghar Ghar Mein Diwali Hai..`, Shamshad Begum sang `Aai Re Aai Re Diwali..` for the 1949 film `Seesh Mahal`, Mukesh sang `Ek Woh Bhi Diwali` from the 1960 film `Nazrana`.

Few years back, `Aamdani Athhanni Kharcha Rupaiya` starring Govinda, Juhi Chawla, Tabu, Chandrachur Singh, Essha Koppikar, Johny Lever and others, had a Diwali song –`Aayi hai Diwali, sunno ji gharwali`. But, even though Diwali has made a slow disappearance from Hindi movies over the years, festivities continue to rule the television.

"On the small screen, the festive fervour continues to dominate during such times, as that is the requirement on television. In terms of movies, one has to be specific and stay focused on the subject of the film," Bazmee said.

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