The monsoon’s here and what better time to curl up in bed and revisit some of our favourite monsoon films? These aren’t just films with great rain scenes, they’re films in which the rain is a character in itself, imbuing the film with a rich atmospheric presence and informing the characters’ decisions. Here are our favourites, in no particular order:
Ram Gopal Varma’s Kaun? has four characters – three of them are played by Urmila Matondkar, Manoj Bajpayee and Sushant Singh – and the fourth is the rains. In fact, the relentless rains have the longest part in the film. Even though the film is set indoors, you can hear it through the entire runtime, right from the first scene to the last, like a constant background score. It helps build a feeling of dread, fear and entrapment in the mind of the viewer. In fact, if you took out the rains from Kaun? the story would no longer hold. Urmila wouldn’t be trapped in a lonely bungalow without a phone connection and there wouldn’t be a rain-soaked Manoj Bajpayee furiously begging her to let him in for shelter.
Life In A Metro (2007)
Life In A Metro by Anurag Basu is quite literally about life in a large metropolis like Mumbai. And no story can correctly capture the chaos of the city without featuring its ferocious rains. There are couples cheating on their partners, old lovers reuniting and singletons meeting prospective lovers through arranged marriage portals even while they’re drenched to the bone. Basu doesn’t try to make the rain look pretty. Shilpa Shetty’s character scrambling for a place in a packed BEST bus or local train with a dripping umbrella in hand is a sight any Mumbaikar will relate to. The one having the most fun here is composer Pritam and his band who show up with guitars at various points, merrily singing in the rain.
Cursed for worshipping a deity condemned to be forgotten, the inhabitants of Tumbbad must endure rainfall year round. Not only does the incessant rain add to the village’s atmosphere of gloom, elevating it from an ordinary location to one of mythic significance, it also makes for a visually striking contrast against the warm, rich red soil of the ‘womb’ that Vinayak (Sohum Shah) later learns to plunder. Below the earth’s surface, gold coins flow as freely as the rain does above.
If the rain in Tumbbad is a curse, the one in Kaminey is an ‘act of God,’ as one character puts it. As if on cue, the downpour begins as soon as Charlie (Shahid Kapoor) makes the choice between stealing a packet of cocaine and running away, and rarely lets up after. The relentless rainfall makes the film’s dull colour palette even duller and more washed out, effectively reflecting the characters’ bleak lives and modest ambitions.
The wind and rain in Mani Ratnam‘s Raavan, like the film’s protagonist Beera (Abhishek Bachchan), are wild and untameable. They first make an appearance when he kidnaps the policeman’s wife Ragini (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) – she’s frightened of the elements, he stares defiantly at them. The rains heighten her sense of discomfort and isolation, away from the comforts of home, she must now contend with the unforgiving nature of the jungle. That Beera’s lair is next to a roaring waterfall means you don’t have to look too far for a metaphor – both are swirling whirlpools of chaos, raging on and destroying everything in their path.