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Last week a rare thing happened as I went past the time of the day.

The Tamilnadu film industry issued a request— actually read it as an order, that film producers  should cut out all scenes of falling rain, or couples romping on snow if their film scripts demanded such scenes, till the State  had received its normal quota of rains in the year 2019.

Within three days, artists told through their PROs, informing they had complied with their Industry’s desire.

Actor R Parthiban announced  he had removed such a scene in his film Oththa Seruppu Size 7. Other artists postponed their shooting schedules which took them to Europe and to Switzerland. Some others have taken digital help to create the showers and spare the scarce water.

The argument was, how can an audience be exposed to the dreams of falling rains, and the chill of snow under the feet of singing dancing  love birds, when in reality precious cattle and children in rural villages were dying of thirst.  A state of emergency had been pronounced. Half way round the world, Leonardo DiCaprio, the Hollywood actor and environmentalist, was expressing sorrow for the thirsty people of Chennai.

Perhaps the Tamilnadu order was timely. Film script writers of late  have stopped writing action asking for water trucks to be brought into film studios to create rains in the studio. If you need rains falling, you also need women dressed to receive the drizzle otherwise how will they sizzle in bathing suits and bikinis. To sizzle, the ladies need to dress themselves in see through sarees, like in chiffons and georgettes worn  earlier by Sridevi, Padmini, Sharmila Tagore  Silk Smitha, Hema Malini and the  rest.

Actually come to think of the Tamilnadu order, is revolutionary. For the first time since cinema first arrived in India, a rain drenched scene  originally put, has been scissored out voluntarily. Past cinematic history is replete with incidents when the Indian Censors, have been bold enough to direct the film director to cut out such scenes as they were too bold, sensuous and too transparent for the imagination of the audience. They had left nothing for the imagination, except for the true tone of the  actresses’ skin.

The rain scene has a term in Indian film terminology. Its called a “wet scene”. The late Madhubala was regularly drenched in the studio rains. So was Nargis, Nutan, Helen and Aruna Irani. Raj Kapoor insisted he should have a ‘wet  scene’ in  the film in which he played the lead role. It all started with “Barsaat” but when  he had to stay out of the frame, he got his actresses to  be thrown into the  water for  good sight effect.

You have to forgive the  film historian for the ‘wet scene’, for he told all his students of film history that for a success of any traditional cultural cinematic vehicle, the ‘wet scene’ was essential, just like the ‘The End’ card . Dadasaheb Phalke  had introduced the ‘wet scene’ in his first feature film, Raja Harishchandra, and that launched the Indian film industry. So actually all succeeding film directors while including the wet scene, have paid their sincerest tribute to the Father of the Indian film industry!

India being an agricultural dominated country, the real rain time is held most propitious. We all look for the rain clouds of the Monsoon in the tradition of Kalidas in his Meghadootam. It is therefore no surprise that some of our best written poems and then  the best sung songs, are all drawn from the imagery of the Monsoon. Our national repertoire of Monsoon songs  exceeds 8,000 composition in all  spoken languages in India. For me two splendid compositions would suffice:

Remember from film Parakh, Sadhana singing, “Oh Sajanaa, barakha bahar aaye, Ras ke phuhaar layi  akhiyon me pyar layi,.. .” . And again in film Chote Nawab, Sheela Vaz sang, ‘Ghar aaja ghir aye, badaraa sawariya, mora jiya dhak dhak re chamke bijuriya’.

This film song was the declared the best classical film song in India in 1961. It presented a new music composer in R.D. Burman to the industry, and launched  the whole Mehmood family in one film, father, sister, son, one uncle, and Mehmood himself!

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