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‘Rocky Aur Rani.’ Dola Re sequence’s gender-breaking moment sets benchmark in Indian cinema

Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani' shattered stereotypes and pushed boundaries with its revolutionary 'Dola Re Dola' sequence, in which Ranveer Singh and Tota Roy Choudhury deliver a mesmerizing performance of the iconic song, traditionally associated with female characters. The sequence serves as a powerful testament to the idea that dance knows no bounds of gender and sexuality, paving the way for a more inclusive and progressive Indian cinema.

By Rekha Joshi 
Updated Date

Back in 2002, when ‘Dola Re Dola’ graced the screens in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Devdas,’ little did the filmmaker realize that it would evolve into an anthem for the LGBTQ community. The mesmerizing dance sequence, choreographed by Saroj Khan, featured Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit as Paro and Chandramukhi, respectively, dancing during Durga Puja, expressing their love for Devdas (Shah Rukh Khan). Now, two decades later, in the 2023 release ‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani,’ Karan Johar pays a fitting tribute to SLB’s timeless track.

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The momentous song appears in the film post-interval, at a crucial point when Alia Bhatt’s character, Rani, redefines the meaning of ‘patriarchy’ for the Randhawas (Ranveer’s side). The Durga pandal provides a poignant backdrop for two male characters to gracefully perform what has conventionally been regarded as a song reserved for women and cherished by the queer community. When Ranveer and the exceptionally talented Tota Roy Choudhury (portraying Alia’s father) delve into the Devdas track, it becomes a pivotal moment in the storyline.

Tota’s character, Chandan Chatterjee, is a kathak dancer who faced opposition from his father for pursuing his passion. Unabashedly embracing his love for Kathak, Chandan and Rocky synchronize seamlessly, dancing to the beats of the song.

With this ingenious masterstroke, Director Karan Johar achieves two significant goals. First, he proves that a typical alpha male’s (exemplified by Rocky) sexuality is not confined or determined by his choice to dance to the tune of ‘Dola Re Dola.’ Additionally, the sequence dismantles prejudices and stigmas associated with specific notions linked to the queer community. As you witness Rocky and Chandan donned in traditional red attire, delivering an encore performance of the song, you can’t help but whistle and cheer for them. The rhythm, melody, and joy of dance transcend and break free from societal constraints of gender and sexuality.

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