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Ranbir to Raj: Bollywood's FIRE POWER

By SUKANYA VERMA
September 08, 2022 12:00 IST
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Fire dominates the frames of Brahmastra Part One: Shiva.

'Kuch rishta hai mera aag se,' explains Ranbir Kapoor only to learn he's an 'Agni Astra' spearheading Ayan Mukerji's superhero universe in Brahmastra.

Causing mishaps, evoking fear, underlining danger or daredevilry, a symbol of fiery passions and pain, inspiring titles like Aag, Aag Hi Aag, Aag Ka Gola, Aag Se Khelenge Hum, Fire, Mashaal, Agnee, Agneepath and Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag, Sukanya Verma looks at the many ways fire enjoys a significant presence in our movies.

 

Parinda

Nana Patekar's pyrophobia is key to his character's dark past and destruction.

The dread that is born out of the guilt from burning down his wife and child alive comes to a full circle when Jackie Shroff gives him a dose of his own medicine in the blazing, brutal finale.

 

Mother India

During the dramatic sequence when incensed villagers set a field full of haystacks on fire, Sunil Dutt and Nargis endangered their lives on screen as well as off it.

Of course, the latter was famously rescued by her co-star and the rest is history.

 

Om Shanti Om

Fire at its most furious plays a recurring role in Farah Khan's reincarnation drama.

Be it Shah Rukh Khan saving Deepika Padukone, a la Sunil Dutt and Nargis in Mother India, to their tragic deaths in a studio fire set by Arjun Rampal, setting the stage for fiery retribution in its thrilling climax.

 

The Burning Train

The title of B R Chopra's big-budget disaster movie says it all.

Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna, Jeetendra, Hema Malini, Neetu Singh, Parveen Babi headline the multi-starrer about a bomb going off in a bullet train full of passengers.

 

Aag

In Raj Kapoor's directorial debut, the actor plays a man recalling the events from his childhood, adolescence and youth, until the fateful moment his face was disfigured in a fire, to his bride on their wedding night.

 

Padmaavat

Deepika Padukone's much talked about 'jauhar' scene -- the act of self-immolation performed by Rani Padmavati and her fellow women to protect their honour against the lustful Khilji and his army -- forms the focus of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's opulent yet controversial climax.

 

RRR

Where NT Rama Rao Jr embodies water, Ram Charan Teja is fire.

Their clashing, contrasting elements of nature powers RRR's over-the-top imagery to the hilt.

 

Bahu Begum

In classic Muslim social tradition, no soon Ashok Kumar learns his feelings for Meena Kumari are one-sided and she has only space for Pradeep Kumar in her heart, his Nawab burns the palace down to ashes, leaving no trace of his memory behind.

 

Roja

Though his hands are tied, Arvind Swamy leaps without a thought to save the national flag from the wrath of ruthless terrorists eager to set it on fire in an emotionally-charged moment of Roja.

 

Aatish

What happens when shola and aatish collide? Sanjay Dutt and Aditya Pancholi give us a hunky demonstration as they race fire in Sanjay Gupta's slick action masala.

 

Tridev

When baddies try to burn him alive but fail, he retaliates by burning down their warehouse in flames.

That's Sunny Deol for 'it's not personal, it's strictly business.'

 

Koyla

Koyla didn't set the box office on fire, but the image of Shah Rukh Khan, playing a mute after Amrish Puri shoves hot coal down his throat as a kid, running in an overlay in flames (a stunt he performed on his own) certainly caught eyeballs.

 

Dil Se..

With passion that burns as potently as fire, SRK seldom wore his King of Romance title lightly.

 

Balwaan

Suniel Shetty in a silver bunker suit accepting the deadly Aag Ka Kua challenge made a lasting impression in his debut Balwaan, a sight that '90s kids will enthusiastically remember.

 

Hit: The First Case

Pyrophobia is often a PTSD trope in our movies.

Quite like Parinda, Rajkummar Rao's horrific memories of watching a loved one burn before his eyes makes him uneasy around the fire.

 

Hum

Danny Denzongpa displays some anxiety around fire for the exact same reasons after his home, family are set to flames -- a tragedy he entirely holds Amitabh Bachchan responsible for in Mukul Anand's crowd-pleaser, Hum.

 

Krrish

What better spectacle to highlight Hrithik Roshan's heroics than him playing saviour amidst a circus on fire?

 

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam

Portrait of a lady on fire, Bhansali style.

 

Kalank

A giant Raavan effigy goes up in flames while Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan make eyes at each other -- the visual allure of Kalank is unrelenting.

 

Tumbbad

Among Tumbbad's several striking images is the use of light and fire turning its most dangerous creatures and dim-lit spaces a source of ferocious action.

 

Masaan

In Neeraj Ghaywan's sublime drama, a young man working at the cremation ghats of Varanasi is left devastated when he discovers his ladylove's body is destined for the same horrific fire and fate.

 

Junoon

Rahul Roy's luck runs out as soon as the fire keeps a man-eating tiger at bay and transforms him into a beastly predator in Mahesh Bhatt's tawdry horror film.

 

Aradhana

There is no smoke, correction, sex without fire.

That's how Bollywood did it anyway when campfires played scorching spectators to all the sizzling action between the hero and heroine.

 

Dil

Broken furniture, check, matchbox, check, seven pheras check.

Back when the 'agni ko sakshi maan ke' brand of rebellious, spontaneous shaadis used to be commonplace in Bollywood movies.

 

Baahubali: The Beginning

Katappa stabbing Baahubali in the back against a gigantic fire and the staggering 'why' it led to is the single most greatest visual and movie question of the decade.

 

Dabangg 3

Bollywood doesn't need fire-breathing dragons when it has Bhai.

 

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SUKANYA VERMA / Rediff.com