Metaphors In Cinema: Filmmakers’ Art Of Storytelling

June 2, 2022

Our English teachers have taught us that the road in The Road Not Taken, the broken statue of Ozymandias in Ozymandias and almost everything in Shakespeare are metaphors.

Previously, people used to only read metaphors in books and literary pieces. Now, one loves to figure them out in cinema as well.

Not, just the cinema lovers watch films and pick up metaphors as they analyse them, the filmmakers enjoy using them to not just highlight a certain emotion but, also to enhance their storytelling. 

These metaphors occur in different ways, some in form of recurring elements such as water, moon, mirror and so on. The other way metaphors come up is in the form of dialogues or songs. 

Let us have a look at some metaphors in films: 

Elements As Metaphors 

Some elements used by the filmmakers include mirrors. One uses a mirror to look at themselves. Filmmakers take the metaphor of looking into the mirror for looking into the lives of the protagonists and their retrospection of it. 

For example, in Imtiyaz Ali's Tamasha, there are a few scenes where Ved (Ranbir Kapoor) looks into the mirror and talks to himself about his behaviour when he starts to shed his robotic personality and tries to get back to his real self. 

Another example is Vishal Bharadwaj's Haider, where Ghazala (Tabu) looks at Haider (Shahid Kapoor) in the mirror when he comes to meet her during her second marriage. And as she looks at him, what she sees is a changed and insane Haider and not the gentle son she thought him to be. 

Similarly, water is used to portray peace by a lot of filmmakers. For example in Zoya Akhtar's Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, water reflects Arjun ( Hrithik Roshan) fighting his inner fears to finally find peace within himself. 

In Neeraj Ghaywan's Masaan as well water is used to symbolise the end of grief and pain and the beginning of a new life.

As Dialogues And Songs

Now, in songs the writers always use metaphors just like one would do in poems.

Like Chaand Si Mehbooba or Channa Mereya, the writer has described their lover using the word moon. But, there are dialogues which have made the use of metaphors to express a certain emotion as well. 

For example in the dialogue from Ayan Mukerji's Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani “Mei udna chahta hoon Naina……bas rukna nahi chahta” here he is talking about the madness he wants in his life.

Another example is from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara “Insaan ko dibbe mei sirf tab hona chahiye jab voh mar chuka ho” here dibba has been used for a coffin and Laila (Katrina Kaif) is trying to explain to Arjun that he should not live his life in a box packed in schedules, timetables and routines.

Metaphors in Cinema

These were just a few examples of metaphors used in cinema.

If you are a cinema lover you too may have spotted these metaphors and more. So, keep watching movies and enjoy the little and big metaphors you can find.

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