The monsoons – as we’d say in modern, millennial Internet lingo – are a mood. When it comes to the movies, rain has always served as shorthand for drama – an emotionally charged backdrop for various moods and situations. Rain can evoke many things – joy and innocence, romance and passion, horror and thrills, sorrow and gloom, foreboding and doom – making it a rather popular and versatile cinematic device.
In this monsoon-special Posterphilia column, we bring you a selection of rain-splattered posters for films of various genres – from Hollywood, Bollywood and beyond.
We begin with some vintage Bollywood romance – expectedly, most of these titles directly allude to rain– Barsaat (1949), Baarish (1957), Barsaat Ki Raat (1960) and Bheegi Raat (1965).
Apart from those, there’s Dil Tera Deewana (1962) and a Polish poster for Raj Kapoor’s Shree 420, featuring Raj Kapoor and Nargis under an umbrella, as they appear in the song Pyaar Hua Ikraar Hua. Surprisingly, this is the film’s only poster which depicts what is perhaps the film’s most enduring image.
While ‘rain songs’ are a popular Bollywood trope, classic musicals from Hollywood and Europe also prominently feature rainy backdrops – the most popular one being Singin’ In The Rain (1952). There’s also Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and the 1946 MGM musical Till The Clouds Roll By.
The poster for Francis Ford Coppola’s The Rain People (1969) features dreamy silhouettes behind raindrops on glass, along with the wistful tagline: ‘Rain people are very fragile… One mistake in love and they dissolve.’ Meanwhile, passions take a shockingly violent turn in the poster for Lina Wertmüller’s A Night Full of Rain (1978) – but then, what’s the point being in love if you don’t have the liberty of slapping each other, right?
We round off the list of vintage romances with Frank Capra’s Rain or Shine (1930), Stuart Walker’s Romance in the Rain (1934), George Sidney’s The Eddy Duchin Story (1956), Rudolph Maté’s Miracle in the Rain (1956), John Schlesinger’s A Kind of Loving (1962), Robert Altman’s A Perfect Couple (1979) and Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories (1980).
Fast forward to the contemporary era, and we have posters for The End of the Affair (1999), Love Me If You Dare (2003) and The Notebook (2004) – featuring its MTV Best Kiss Award winning scene.
From Bollywood, we have the rather lovely poster for Chameli (2004) – with its moody melancholy and elegant design. On the other end of the spectrum is Barsaat: A Sublime Love Story (sic, 2003) – in which Suneel Darshan does a titular mash-up of Raj Kapoor’s Barsaat and Satyam Shivam Sundaram: Love Sublime. Also, both the film’s leading ladies are in wet white clothes, which makes this a meta-tribute on multiple levels.
There’s also Agneepath (2012), and a Mohit Suri double-bill with the posters for Aashiqui 2 (which repeats the original Aashiqui’s couple-pose and bizarre tagline) and Half-Girlfriend.
THERE’S A STORM COMING
Rain is frequently used to depict movie characters in moments of crisis, conflict and catharsis. From Denzel Washington in Flight (2012) to Diane Kruger in In The Fade (2017) and Tim Robbins in the iconic poster for The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – if a character runs into stormy weather, there’s nothing like a good downpour to externalize their mental state.
Super-hero films often use rain to enhance the impact of an action sequences and dramatic face-offs, and this trope surfaces in many posters too – Spiderman 3 (2003), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), The Wolverine (2013) and Bhavesh Joshi Superhero (2018), for example.
Similarly, noir and action films often rely on heavy rain for atmosphere, as you can see in the posters for Blade Runner (1982), Streets of Fire (1984), Road to Perdition (2002) and Sin City (2005) and The Grandmaster (2013).
DROPS OF NOSTALGIA
But while one can always count on rain to deliver drama and thrills, it also evokes a sense of innocence, tenderness and nostalgia in films such as Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Vishal Bhardwaj’s The Blue Umbrella (2005) and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s After The Storm (2019).
Lastly, we have Japanese filmmaker Makoto Shinkai’s anime features The Garden of Words (2013) and Weathering With You (2019). Incredibly, after an online petition to release the film in India went viral and got more than 53000 signatures from Indian fans, the film is all set to release in India this October. The monsoons might be gone by then, but it’s still going to be raining at the movies.