Lying Beneath the Rain, Thinking of Home: How rain in literature and films is a metaphor for life

Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali (1955) reaches its denouement in the scene where Durga, having had a stroll in the rain, falls sick and eventually dies. It’s a rare episode of Tulsidas’s Ramcharitmanas. Ravan has abducted Sita, and the two brothers are alone in the forest. The elder brother spends his day teaching the younger one values of devotion, renunciation and kingly ethics. One evening, as the sky darkens, Ram’s tone changes. The most stoic of men, he looks up with longing and says, “Look Lakshman, the peacocks dance to the sight of clouds.” Under the spell of the falling drops, Maryada Purushottam, the supremely contained being, utters the words that reveal what he has so carefully concealed. As “clouds shatter the sky”, Ram tells his brother, “Priya hin darpat man mora (bereft of my beloved, my heart trembles with fear).” Ramcharitmanas was composed at a time when the gods were not divorced from literature, and the depiction of the divine in multiple forms was considered neither blasphemous nor against a “secular” aesthetic. The rains touched and moved all, transforming even Ram into a tragic and lonely lover. In popular imagination, rains bring joy and cheer but artistes have often […]

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