Light naps in an alcove and Thomas Hood’s poetry… these are a few of BOMAN IRANI’s favourite monsoon things. SHUBARNA MUKERJI SHU is charmed…
A pretty recent catastrophe when it comes to monsoons in Bollywood was my film 3 IDIOTS. The thing with Hindi films and rains is that the girl and the boy are always stranded, they have to take refuge in the caves, their heads and shoulders are wet so they have to change their clothes… cut to silhouette and then well…. The monsoon, for some reason, works as an aphrodisiac of sorts! And almost always the result of such a monsoon is a personal calamity. More often than not, the boy had to die and the girl is left behind with a baby. In 3 IDIOTS too there was a pregnant girl and a baby, a makeshift hospital, chaos… But when the long dark night is gone, there is a new dawn, a new generation, a new understanding… a new world of education. I remember that scene distinctly, I remember getting really wet; it was the most exhausting scene. Aamir took a day and a half for it – and I am not even talking about inside where the delivery happens, I am talking about the scene outside. My eyes were so sore with the tears, they were swollen; for three days the swelling didn’t come down. It might have been due to the dirty water, God knows!
I have done quite a few rain sequences. There was another really strenuous rain sequence in DHAN DHANA DHAN GOAL, where I am giving John Abraham a lesson of his life. It was debilitating, we were in London and it was so cold, the clothes were clinging on to us. We had to run, slip and fall and do a lot of things while we had the rain machines showering on us. Must say the rain machines have become more nuanced these days, now the fake rain doesn’t fall like buckets on our heads, they have worked on various levels of intensity for the rains.
But that’s just the movies. When it comes to life, I think monsoons tend to make people really nostalgic. …Also greedy! Everyone at least in Mumbai starts asking for bhajiyas and vadas, and chai etc. All this is very much a part of the Mumbai monsoons. People in Mumbai pray for the rains, even if they hate rains because the heat here is so unbearable. But those are the perennial grumblers. For me, I don’t mind the rains; in fact, I don’t mind a bit of flooding either. At the first onset of floods, everyone gets up in arms to blame someone for it. Well, it will happen! Of course when it goes out of hand, we all know where the blames lies… It was horrible what happened in Chennai last year. Did you know that Chennai gets two monsoons?
However, I remember days when school was called off due to water-logging; it used to flood the buses too. I remember playing in puddles, I remember playing with snails, earthworms. I could challenge today’s parents to allow their children anywhere near a puddle! For us, monsoons are a very welcome phenomenon. The only time we used to feel a little sad was when we thought of the street-dwellers. The monsoon does pose a problem for them and of course, also those staying in ground floor flats. Even today, many houses in South Mumbai have parapets which one has to jump over to get inside the houses…. Of course, the newer buildings have parking for the first several floors. But we, who have been born and brought up here, are all experts on high tide and low tides!
One thing I cannot seem to understand is people going up to the parapets on Marine Drive and waiting for the waves to hit them… As if that gives more pleasure and thrills than Disney Land. I don’t understand why people would be willing to stand there to get killed!
My best memories of the monsoons would be when all our cousins would get together. Somehow we used to predict that it would be bad the next day, so we would have a games’ day – Monopoly, Dumb Charades, cards… kiddie stuff but loads of fun. We used to go get food and tuck it away… those were the days before we all became supermarket junkies.
Today, the monsoons are more about some good books and a light nap. I have a corner at home, it is in my study. It is like an alcove by the window, and it has a little day-bed, and somehow during the monsoons it suddenly becomes the coolest spot in the house. Funny how it is often so badly neglected through the rest of the year, to be used only by the dogs! It has a great view. It is in the Parsi colony the only place where you can still see tiled roofs, so those roofs amidst some lush greenery makes a wonderful view. Sitting there, holding one of the old books, it fills you up.