As Kesari (Saffron) releases today on Holi, we take a stroll down to see how many Hindi films explored the spectrum (!) of colours down the decades. Interestingly, as a phenomenon, titles on a single color seem to be a millennium phenomenon, though the first such film was the anonymous Neela (Blue) way back in 1935!
Saffron is the color of bravery, abstinence and sacrifice in Hindu and Sikh religions, and we all know that the Kesari is about the incredible battle of 21 Sikhs against 10,000 Afghan invaders.
We will not include films that mention any colour as a part of the title, because then we will have to encounter hundreds of movies, from Lal Patthar to Neela Akash, Red Rose, Kaala Pani and so on.
Black (2005): It’s a black world for the blind heroine that Sanjay Leela Bhsanli sensitively explored in his 2005 classic. It won appreciation and honours globally more than great box-office returns, though the film did very well in India as well. Arguably, Rani Mukerji’s finest performance to date, it also won Amitabh Bachchan a National award as the girl’s coach.
Black & White (2008): Subhash Ghai’s only attempt at a modest budget directorial and mid-stream subject came undone despite his patent sincerity. The Anil Kapoor film simply did not connect with its story of good and bad values (black and white) and came a cropper.
Blue (2009): Anthony D’Souza directed this fiasco of an underwater action thriller that capsized like the ship that played a major role in this thriller on the high seas, hence the title. A star-heavy film featuring Akshay Kumar again (like Kesari), Katrina Kaif, Sanjay Dutt and Zayed Khan, the film was a pioneer in one department—it was the first to have its music released on MP3 on a Pen Drive, but the score was a disaster like the Diwali release.
Khakee (2004): This gritty action drama with solid twists was directed by Rajkumar Santoshi and was about cops, honest and corrupt. Khakee referred to colour of the cops’ uniform (a mix of beige and brown), and was an average success, though it remains one of the finest films of all those connected with it—Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar (again!), Ajay Devgn, Aishwarya Rai (not yet a Bachchan then!) and Tusshar.
The film pioneered Digital Intermediate (DI) in India, a process that color-corrects and gives uniformity to sequences on screen. In this case, it was necessitated by shoots done in Nashik in contrasting seasons.
Pink (2016): The Shoojit Sircar co-written and co-produced film explored how a group of girls had to fight for their honour and, as in Black and Khakee, we had Amitabh Bachchan again—this time as their lawyer with a back-story. The film starred Taapsee Pannu in a central and gritty role and the powerful drama of four women (Pink) was a hit.
Red: The Dark Side (2007): A Vikram Bhatt rip-off like so many of his movies, the Aftab Shivdasani -Celina Jaitley-Amrita Arora story fell in the erotic love triangle mystery genre. It was a total non-starter.
White Rainbow (2006): This offbeat Dharam Mandrayar film was one of those rare non-commercial films that had a true heart and soul, and more importantly gripped with its narration. We include this film as the word Rainbow attached to it also signifies a spectrum of colours.
Sonali Kulkarni and Amruta Subhash (recently appreciated as Ranveer Singh’s mother in Gully Boy) were two of the protagonists in this saga of a fight for social justice by widows (that is why the title) against an orthodox society that dispatched them to Vrindavan and a life of ostracism.