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Updated: July 24, 2010 17:27 IST

Come rain

AKANKSHA BATRATANYA TALWAR
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Jumbo umbrellas accompany kids on their way to school. photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar
The Hindu Jumbo umbrellas accompany kids on their way to school. photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The good old black umbrella gets a facelift. The parasol has been as key to Bollywood's romantic tales as trees for lovers to run around and the rain that drenched the heroine's contours. Where would pre-liberalisation Bollywood have been without this handy monsoon accessory?

Gone are the days when Raj Kapoor enacted a love song amidst heavy rains, tucked under an earnest black umbrella. This timeless favourite from Shree 420 was by no means the only example of a screen pair cloaking its sweet nothings behind an umbrella. The parasol has been as key to Bollywood's romantic tales as trees for lovers to run around and the rain that drenched the heroine's contours. Where would pre-liberalisation Bollywood have been without this handy monsoon accessory? Introduced at the strategic moment, didn't it shield a generation of viewers from going astray?

Well, globalisation has ensured Bollywood no longer needs such coy devices. But if it did, it would find globalisation has also enlarged the choice way beyond the sturdy black, cane-shaped chhata of old. The markets are full of new motifs and shapes. The erstwhile umbrella is now an adornment for the monsoon season. For college students there are the Hello Kittys and checks. Florals and solid colours are preferred by older women; those with a love of the old world go in for grandfather umbrellas (the large ones that double up as walking sticks but don't go into any bag, unfortunately), while the men play conservative with black. The kids are spoilt for choice, with Disney's cartoon characters scanned on theirs. The umbrellas are available with a handle or a headband as per the little ones' convenience, ranging Rs. 299 to 899 at all leading stores housing Disney merchandise. Vendors at traffic signals sell small umbrellas in bright shades with a smiling bunny with protruding ears. Also, markets like Sarojini Nagar, Lajpat Nagar, Janpath and Karol Bagh offer a range of designs. If you simply need protection from the sun or the rain, you will be sorted within Rs.150. If you're looking for style, you won't be disappointed. Bold florals, psychedelic patterns, a mix of coloured clown shapes, the perfect rainbow, our favourite rain bird with its beautiful open wings ready to dance, or the one statement that defines you — all are available between Rs.250 and 600. But if you really love the season, you can sport the transparent crest umbrellas in candy colours which allow you to watch the pouring rain even as you stay dry. Take cover, Grandma Bollywood!

Devaraja Mudali Street in George Town packs in a vast variety of merchandise, and some unusual history to boot »


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