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Animals in cinema

Animals in cinema
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jhdgkjsdhgjksdgBe it 'Ramayana' or 'Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na', animals have always been an important part of the Indian movie industry. Their presence not only steals awa...

jhdgkjsdhgjksdgBe it 'Ramayana' or 'Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na', animals have always been an important part of the Indian movie industry. Their presence not only steals away the attention of the audience but, also steals away their heartA Last week Central Indian Highlands celebrated their second year film festival in Bhopal. Initiated by CREW (Crusade for Revival of Environment & Wildlife) the day long session proved to be a sparkling exchange of ideas.Indian cinema borrows from mythology, all our stories stem from either the 'Ramayana' or the 'Mahabharata' and just in the way mythology is a part of our culture and we are familiar with specific plants associated with specific deities like peepal leaf for Hanuman, bhilv paatra for Shiva, tulsi for Krishna, shoe flower for Ganesha, pink lotus for Lakshmi, white lotus for Saraswati and marigold for others, there is a animal assigned to serve as God/ Goddess's companion and vehicle. Lord Shiva wears a snake around his neck and his faithful bull Nandi follows him wherever he goes. Lord Vasudev rests on the glorious Sheshnaag in the middle of the occean. In his avtaar as Krishna he takes the cows for grazing into the forest and beckons them with his flute. Lord Kartike flies on a peacock while Lord Ganesha leisurely hops on a mouse and the monkey hold a special place in the heart of Lord Ram ever since he was aided on his attack to Lanka by Hanuman. Mother Goddess Amba/ Durga/ Sati rides a pantheon, goddess Lakshmi stands still on a lotus cheered by a roaring elephant splashing in the water. Goddess Saraswati squats on a lotus while her vehicle is a swan. Collective images become a part of the story telling for instance the snake in our films is a symbol of revenge and reincarnation. There was a 'Nagin' in the 50s with Kalyanji Anandji's popular track 'Man dole mera tan dole�' then Rajkumar Kohli's 'Nagin' where a scorned Reena Roy takes revenge on her husband's killers and the 90so 'Nagina' where Sridevi is reborn to unite with her estranged husband Rishi Kapoor and finally, the king of all the snakes - Rekha's 'Sheshnaag'.
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The cat because of the nine life theory was mostly visible in horror films. Ram Gopal Varma first used the kitten in 'Raat' where a family unknowingly drives over the animal crawled beneath their car and a few years later again in 'Vastushastra' but the film to make the cat immortal is Aamir Khan's 'Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na' where an indulgent Imran Khan pacifies an inconsolable Genilia D'souza with 'Aditi kabhi kabhi�' after the funeral of her kitten.. The cow represented purity and fertility and was associated with the all vituous heroine usually the mother and the wife like Meena Kumari in 'Bhabhi ki Choodiyaan', 'Nutan in Chotta Bhai'. Jaya Bhaduri in 'Gai aur Gauri' and Hema Malini in 'Khushboo' though not the wives were the caretakers of the families and no matter what the pressures in their life they never failed on duty towards home and the holy cow.The horse signified valour and there were many shades of strength. His saddle carried all kinds of chaacters. Sometimes he was the hero riding the stallion to save the damsel in distress like Amitabh Bachchan rescued Rekha in 'Mr Natwarlal'. Sometimes, he was the villan abducting the heroine and hiding in the ravines like Sunil Dutt in 'Mujhe Jeene Do' and of course who can forget the mighty Hema Malini riding Dhanno in Ramgadh of 'Sholay'. The elephant was usually a part of elaborate war sequences in period films like the magnificent 'Mughal �E- Azam' and 'Jodhaa Akbar' in recent times where Akbar/Hrithik Roshan has to befriend the animal after a tough battle. Only once so far the elephant has featured in a supporting role and superstar Rajesh Khanna has immortalised the memory iin devar's 'Haathi Mere Saathi'. Pigeons played messengers of love in historical films and we are witness to the beautiful moments between Salim and Anarkali on the 70mm screen. Filmmaker Sooraj Barjatya gave a new definition to the pigeon in his 80s love story 'Maine Pyaar Kiya' where a modern day Salman Khan and Bhagyashri exchange notes via a kabootar. The bullock cart was a part of all village stories. The villain used it to collect grains and store them in his godown and the hero to romance and sing songs like Dilip Kumar sings 'Mang ke saath tumhara�' with Vyjayanthimala inn 'Naya Daur' . In a lot of films the bullock-cart ride was used as a metaphor to convey journey of life like 'jeevan ke lambe hain�'/ 'Aashirwaad' or 'Musafir hoon yaaron�'/ 'Parichay'. The camel was a pre-requisite for stories shot in the dessert like 'Reshma Aur Shera' in the olden days and 'Paheli' in recent times. The camel like the elephant was a royal animal and added grandeur to the moment which is why some filmmakers used him in urban stories as well. While Vijay Anand used the camel as a part of 'Kaanton se khich ke�' in 'Guide' ,Sooraj Barjatya has the entire family on a picnic riding on the camel in Udaipur in 'Hum Saath Saath Haiin' and Sudhir Mishra begins 'Dharavi' a film about Mumbai slums with a camel out of place in the bylanes of the shanty town!! The dog is easily the most visible animal in our films. In the 50s and the 60s movies it was common for heroines to be carrying poodles in scenes where they are celebrating with friends and family. In the coming years the poodles went out of fashion and dogs were included for a specific purpose like a man going for a walk with his pet. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the dog had a parallel role with hero Mitthun Chakraborty in 'Teri Meharbaniyaan' and played his emotional role note perfect. The dog was fortunate to play a variety of roles in different genres of films. He was the sniffer dog scaring Sridevi at the Bangkok airport in 'Gumraah', the guarding angel to the orphan children in the absence of Rekha in 'Khoon Bhari Maang'. He played a spy for Karisma Kapoor and reported faithfully on the Salman Khan- Sushmitan Sen affair in 'Biwi No 1', the catalyst for the separated lovers in 'Hum Aap ke Hain Koun' and the sixth sense in the opening scene in 'Talaash'. Going back to where we started � Indian mythology � our actors like our deities are defined by their images and it is difficult to escape the expectations that come with the image. Most of them have proved brave hearts and courted danger at every stage of their career, fighting sometimes real and most of the time fake animals on the screen. Dara Singh, Dharmendra, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgan, Nadia in the olden days has done some dare devil scenes with animals� In 'Mr Natwarlal' Rekha throws herself before the tiger and has to battle him all alone till hero Amitabh Bachchan recues her and chains the beast inside a cage. Interestingly Rekha and Amitabh are the only two actors to fight crocodile under water on the screen � Rekha when she is flung into the lake by the ungrateful Kabir Bedi in 'Khoon Bhari Maang' and ravaged by the animal and Amitabh Bachchan when he dives into the water and after a long struggle squash the crocodile underwater in 'Shaan'. In recent times cinema has become more and more sensitive to how animals are treated during shooting and portrayed in films. Ang Lee's 'Life of Pi' and the many Oscar awards won by the film is a reason for celebration. Coming to think of it Irfaan Khan should become the brand ambassador for wild life and dedicate his soul to a worthy cause that got him so much limelight. www.bhawanasomaaya.com
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