Parsi New Year 2017: A look at the community's cultural influence on Bollywood over the years

FP Staff

Aug,17 2017 14:35 57 IST

Parsis all around the world are celebrating Nowruz, or the community's new year on 17 August. Being such a diverse land, the culture and traditions of different communities have found their way into how India lives and functions - including the art we create and consume.

Therefore, on this special occasion of the Parsi New Year, here are a few films that helped integrate Parsi culture into Hindi cinema.

Rustom

Based on the K. M. Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra case which led to end of jury system in India, Rustom is a fictionalised version of the incident that garnered massive media coverage. The story of the film is based around Rustom Pavri (played by Akshay Kumar), an officer in the Indian Navy and his wife Cynthia Pavri (played by Ileana D'Cruz). Their marriage turns irrevocably sour after a series of vindictive moves which eventually lead to a murder. Both Kumar and D'Cruz made for a pretty picture at their on-screen Parsi style wedding.

Still from Rustom. YouTube screengrab.

Still from Rustom. YouTube screengrab.

Being Cyrus

Saif Ali Khan's most underrated performance till date, Being Cyrus is a delight for those who enjoy nuanced cinema. The film revolves around Cyrus Mistry (played by Saif Ali Khan) who goes to Panchgani to learn sculpting from Dinshaw Sethna (played by Naseeruddin Shah).

What follows is a mysterious tale of promiscuity, cold-blooded murders, and a modern take on relationships. Set in a proper Parsi household, the film provides a small, yet authentic window into Parsi culture.

Saif Ali Khan in Being Cyrus.

Saif Ali Khan in Being Cyrus.

Parzania

Parzania is based on the true account of the disappearance of a ten-year-old Parsi boy during the Gujarat communal riots of 2002. The film won two national awards. Parzaan Dastur, better known as Anjali's best friend in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, plays the little boy and melts your heart with every word. Sarika's bedtime story about Parsis migrating to Gujarat and easily mingling with the natives reflects the influence of Parsi culture on films. Her portrayal of a Parsi mother got her the National Award for Best Actress in 2007. Rahul Dholakia, too, took home the Best Director award for the film.

Parzaan Dastur and Sarika in a still from Parzania. YouTube screegrab.

Parzaan Dastur and Sarika in a still from Parzania. YouTube screegrab.

Pestonjee

This film starring Shabana Azmi, Anupam Kher and Naserruddin Shah as thorough Parsis, is probably Bollywood's most in-depth depiction of the community. The greatness of the film lies in details -  A Parsi wedding, architecture inspired from the persian culture, rickety lifts, and traditional attire - everything about this film is a homage to Zoroastrianism. All this, enhanced by a titillating story and stellar actors make the film timeless.

Anupam Kher and Shabana Azmi in a still. YouTube screengrab.

Anupam Kher and Shabana Azmi in a still. YouTube screengrab.