Category Archives: Music

Listen Up

Listen Up

My, what big ears you have, 2010! All the better to let all that awful Bollywood music escape, I bet.

Maybe I’m showing my age but this was the year when my head actively hurt almost everytime I loaded up a new soundtrack. I live across the road from a school with a marching band that insists upon practicing right under my window and at one point, I swear to God, I switched off the latest round of cacophony (Action Replayy, I think?) and basked in the blissful sound of an off-key tuba huffing along to an enthusiastic-if-sadly-untalented drum.

The good ones, therefore, were all the sweeter when they showed up. Here’re my favorite tracks from 2010. As with all lists, they’re highly subjective and I imposed a limit of one track per album because there were entire soundtracks that I would have happily included.

But first, these are the albums that missed the cut but took it easy on my ears all the same. In no particular order:

  • Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey
  • Rajneeti
  • Karthik Calling Karthik
  • Madholal Keep Walking
  • Tera Kya Hoga Johnny
  • Udaan
  • Dabangg
  • Jhootha Hi Sahi

10. Kya Hawa Kya Badal (Allah ke Banday) – Look, I would have found some way to include some mention of an album that features a track by the amazingness known as Ishq Bector (go on, click that link! You know you want to!). But I’m helped by this song.

09. Kanha (Veer) – The only good thing about Salman Khan’s golden barbarian fixation is this song. Intentionally, anyway. *snicker*

08. Des Mera (Peepli Live) – I’ve loved Indian Ocean since I was a kid so I’ll admit I was inclined to be kind but the best part about an album like this is that it doesn’t need your pity vote. It can stand up for itself, thanks.

07. Tujhe Bhula Diya (Anjaana Anjaani) – The best part of this song is Shruti Pathak’s bit at the beginning but Mohit Chauhan and Shekhar aren’t exactly slouches either. The movie might have left me cold, but the music was pretty great.

06. Ranjha Ranjha (Raavan) – My self-imposed limit of one track per album might keep me from giving Ab Mujhe Koi the love it deserves, but I thought this song was outstanding the moment I heard it and it was sheer poetry on screen.

05. Tera Zikr Hai (Guzaarish) – The star by far, as far as I’m concerned, in an album that’s a bit overproduced and labored, but quite lovely. Like everything else Sanjay Leela Bhansali does, I guess.

04. Lehrein (Aisha) – Honestly, I could have picked any song from this movie. Especially Sham, which is still on a loop on certain days. Amit Trivedi is on fire right now and long may it continue.

03. Cham Cham (Striker) – God only knows what happened to Sonu Nigam but here’s a track to remind you that he wasn’t always a greasy-haired fountain of bitter who judged reality shows. Somewhere, deep inside that mop, is an immensely talented voice.

02. Madhno Re (Lamhaa) – It’s like they asked me what I liked the most and then composed it to order. Mogambo khush hua!

01. Dil to Bachcha Hai Ji (Ishqiya) – How much do I love this song? Everything from Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s voice to his enunciation of the amazing lyrics to the string bits in the middle. I could listen to this all day and never tire.


Posted by on December 22, 2010 in Entertainment, Music, Video


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For Want of Whiplash

I don’t care what anybody says, but I love Willow Smith’s Whip My Hair. And that’s a good thing because I can’t get it out of my freakin’ head.

But look, it’s age-appropriate and it’s fun and it’s silly and it makes me vaguely wish I was still a kid – and hardly anything makes me want to be a kid again because let’s face it, being a kid sucks. But if I got to whip my hair back and forth and just shake ’em off, shake ’em off, shake ’em off, shake ’em off, maybe it won’t be so bad.

I don’t know why public opinion is so harsh against the Smiths for letting their kids act. Will Smith was a child star too and he didn’t invent the whole famous-parents-introduce-spawn-to-family-business gig. In fact, if we must have the children of famous people foisted on us, I wish more of them would be like the Smith siblings, Jaden and Willow, who have a real personality.

Look at Willow’s red-carpet outfits (thanks for alerting me to those, Beth!)! I think the Fanning sisters, Dakota and Elle, do a good job at princessy-appropriate, as does Abigail Breslin – but it’s great to see a kid really play dress up. So her parents have the money to make it couture rather than family hand-me-downs discovered in the attic and she does it on red carpets – that’s the way it is. She didn’t go rob it from some other kid.


Posted by on November 26, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Music, Video


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Earworm Friday

All hail the Mighty Earworm! A little sumpin’-sumpin’ to remember me by this lonely weekend. I hope you don’t have anything romantic planned because nothing ruins the mood faster than a partner who walks around muttering “gutur gutur”. Enjoy!

(now with subtitles for double the horror!)

I have no earthly clue how this toxic spillage of a movie became a hit but it takes Shahrukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Salman Khan and even a love-addled Aishwarya Rai and gives you turdblossoms like the one above. After this movie was released, Mads got married and moved far, far away and Ash and SRK both dumped Salman who is equally mad at them. I’m not saying that all resulted from this movie, but if the pieces of nuclear devastation fit…

(I want to forget this but I can’t! SOB!)

The most hilarious thing about this song is something I didn’t even know until I fell down my Mahesh Babu wormhole: look at this. Heh heh heh. I could be the only one who notices a certain resemblance but I find it very fitting. This song is so terrible, dancing to it made Hrithik’s body fall apart. Yes, I choose to blame all his physical ailments on this one.

(starts at the 6.00 mark)

You could probably do an entire list of questionable songs from David Dhawan movies – although, why would you? You’re not an insane masochist like myself – but he really outdid himself with this little ditty from one of his rare non-Govinda movie, back in the days when Akshay Kumar was box office poison.

(aka the reason I’m anti-cell phones)

How? How could this list be complete without at least one Govinda song? Especially this Govinda song? I’ve heard it everywhere – the streets of Delhi, the hallways of American dorms, the subways of New York, the airport of Paris – and I’m sure I would have heard it more often if my brain hadn’t taken proactive steps to ensure my sanity and blocked it out on multiple occasions.

(old is gold)

Here is the man who taught Govinda all he knows: the one and only Jeetendra singing the immortal “Ui Amma” with that brave soldier of the nation, Jaya Prada whose saree mysteriously crumples up and flies away with the wind. Only in the 80s, folks!

(before you pour bleach into your eyes and ears, I should warn you that it’s no use)

Why is Amrita showing me soft porn, you wonder. She isn’t; it’s Mithun Chakraborty’s second coming. Ahem. It’s one of those all time “classics” that nobody can ever forget or unhear once it’s entered their orbit. Even if you only glimpsed out the corner of your eye as it played on mute, you’d hear it in the recesses of your soul for ever and a day.


Warning: You will never get this song out of your head. You’ll still go ahead and click because you’ll refuse to believe anything could be that addictive… and now for the rest of your life people will give you puzzled looks as you go about your business singing, “I am a Disco Dancer!” under your breath.

(For Pitu and Chintan)


Posted by on September 24, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Music, Video


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Awesomely Insane Jeetendra

Awesomely Insane Jeetendra

While searching for material to post during Sridevipalooza week, I made a mistake – albeit a happy one. I went to Youtube to look for clips and fell down a Jeetendra-related video-hole.

I’d forgotten, for example, that the man spent a good chunk of his life dressed like Errol Flynn. The results were so astoundingly, blindingly B-movie fabulous, I just had to share! Just to scratch the surface…

10. Jaise Ko Taise

What better to start us off than a spot of homoerotic S&M? Complete with gymnastics and crotch shots!

Because you’re special.

9. Badi Mastani Meri Jawani

You know what Sholay lacked? The part where Jai and Veeru are hung over a bunch of hungry lions while Basanti and Radha dance awkwardly in harem pants with a bunch of passing African tribesmen.

What? No self-respecting African lady would be seen without a feather duster on her head, I’ll have you know!

8. Kismat Likhne Wale Par

A floating gold throne gently deposits Jeetendra and Jaya Prada (dressed in doublet and apsara costume, respectively) in the technicolor land of floating disco balls. You know things can only improve from there!

7. Chumma Chumma

Apart from the amazing lyrics (the rhyme scheme alone merits it a mention on every list), what I particularly love about this song is the expression on both their faces:

Jeetendra: But… but… that’s not Jaya Prada!
Dimple Kapadia: What the fuck am I doing? That’s right – I have two kids to bring up.
Jeetendra: I don’t understand! Those are the right clothes but that’s not her! This one looks like she actually understands what she’s saying!
Dimple Kapadia: Wave hands! Raise leg! Wave hands! Raise leg! I can dance! And I have no idea what I’m saying! See? Kiss me, you fool!
Jeetendra: Fraud! There is no kissing between Jaya Prada and me – we only have pretend sex while partially clothed! Get off me!

6. Deewana

Mithun wept.

5. Oye Sanam-a

It is a crime to choose just one song out of Hatim Tai but since I can’t embed the entire movie here, this will have to do. Sigh.

4. Daiya Re Daiya

There are some things without which you really can’t call yourself a Bollywood Hero of a certain vintage – and one of those things is the honored tradition of blackface. Or, as practiced in Bollytown, dark green face.

Omigod! Is that Jeetendra under that “tan”? I totally didn’t recognize him! What a cunning disguise! Of course, all the pelvic thrusts helped distract.

3. Maine Tum Sang

Did you ever wonder what people did before they had CGI or if they couldn’t afford special effects? Well, this is your lucky day! The answer is: they simulated running in slo-mo and took over some school’s annual day decorations. An absolutely fabulous school, of course!

These two really made the best movies!

2. Nainon Mein Sapna

I don’t care what you say – if you were in India at a certain point in the 80s, you knew this song like your mother’s lullaby. You saw it on Doordarshan on those oh-so-special Thursdays (Fridays?) when the holy half hour of Chitrahar played state-approved movie songs. You heard it on the radio at your grandmother’s house. Your cleaning lady hummed it under her breath. You knew it, no lie.

Try getting it out of your head now. Muahahaha!

1. Yeh Mera Premi

The thunderous notes that open this song herald your entry into a whole another dimension. Canary yellow wigs! A handkerchief on Leena Chandravarkar’s head! Playing card motifs! The I-got-beaned-on-the-head-till-I-drooled expressions on Jeetendra’s face! Tights! Happy skips! Extras in lockstep! Nothing beats this song!

[pic source]


Posted by on August 18, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Music, Video


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Scandal by Song

Scandal by Song

There are few things I find as enjoyable as subversion. It speaks to the adolescent in me when I stumble across a thing posing as innocent and sweet as a daisy on a sunny morning only to discover it a clever ploy of hundreds of deadly carnivorous insects bent upon devouring the simple-minded bird or small animal who lands nearby to check it out.

Um. You get my drift. Translate as needed to less serial-killer terms.

In my house, a lullaby was something Talat Mehmood sang when my parents had turned out the lights and left me tucked up in bed. Alternatively, it could be Mohammad Rafi or or Hemant Kumar or Geeta Dutt and for a period of two months it was a collection of duets sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle. After a few weeks, my parents refused to let me hear it last thing at night because the songs were all pretty zippy and weren’t doing a very good job of lulling me to sleep much as I enjoyed them.

Anyway, at some point I realized Talat Mehmood wasn’t just singing, he was singing words. Word I understood. Call me dim but until then I could sing all these songs entirely by phonetics without understanding a word of it. I was that annoying toddler who’d run around the house singing some totally inappropriate song at the top of her voice, beaming with equal parts puzzlement and satisfaction at all the laughing attention my “talent” was getting me.

It took me years – this was back in the pre-Google era, if you can remember that far back, when we didn’t have awesome people like Atul just a click away – to put the different sounds of a song from Teen Deviyan together and end up with: “Aha maano kaha, ab tum ho jawan” which was a significant deviation from the way I first heard it as an admonishment to some Hawaiian woman called Ahamanokaha. My incomprehension-fueled, imaginary Dev Anand had a far more exotic career, obviously.

Anyway, when I was a little older, I realized that some of these songs my parents were blithely blasting around the house, lent themselves to certain interpretations that would have horrified my poor parents. So I wisely held my peace and have been sniggering about them ever since.

What? It comes from a place of deep love. I don’t want to ruin their favorite songs for them, after all. Besides, it never made sense that the finest poets of the Independence and post-Independence era like Sahir Ludhianvi, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Kaifi Azmi and others (stalwarts of the Progressive Writers’ Movement for the love of God!) would be entirely content churning out sentimental verses without sneaking in a few sly references for those who were paying attention.

Of course, some of them were vocally and most emphatically not happy with film work and pursued parallel writing careers, and wrote some blazing lines of poetry for film when given the opportunity as seen by the examples of Pyaasa or Phir Subah Hogi, which Sahir set on fire with his writing.

But I’m referring to the love songs. They were far prettier and a ton more meaningful than the songs that would follow, but let’s face it – there’s a limit to the number of times you can dwell lovingly on the line of some girl’s eyebrow without wanting to play a little with the form.

You see it all the time in movies made under repressive regimes. Everything so sweet and proper or full of the right sentiment on the surface, until you deconstruct it and all of a sudden it means something else entirely.

Hindi film isn’t and wasn’t as dire as that but when you’re making movies for a nation of a certain conservatism, there are bound to be things you keep in check. Sexuality being at the top of the list. Casting the more explicit desires in the character of religious hymns was a neat trick that allowed you discuss things like the “fire in my body” without anyone batting an eyelid. Or you could go the other way and have the visuals say something at the other end of the emotional spectrum from the lyrics which say “I can’t bear this sweet sweet fire”.

The tricky vickys! Love it. Here’re just a few of my favorites:

Aaj Sajan Mohe Ang Laga Lo (Pyaasa)

(click here for better quality video with subtitles)

Let’s start with one of my absolute favorites, written by Sahir Ludhianvi with music by S.D. Burman and sung by Geeta Dutt.

A woman sings a hymn in the street about Radha’s helpless desire for Krishna. As Radha plaintively begs her lover to take her in his arms and “slake my thirst”, Gulabo, a beautiful but despised courtesan desperately in love with the poet Vijay, listens to it and her face fills with yearning. Against her will, her steps lead her to the rooftop where Vijay standing idly smoking a cigarette, oblivious both to her and the drama of the moment, his back set against her and her love.

I love everything about this song so much. Without the principals saying so much as a single word, the scene perfectly portrays Vijay’s self-absorption, his emotional poverty that he covers up with his take-no-prisoners-self-righteousness. Gulabo, however, well-accustomed to earthly passions and the dregs of humanity, is overwhelmed when a hymn speaks directly to her emotional state. It is a depth of feeling and suffering that Vijay will only begin to understand at the very end of the movie.

Jaadugar Saiyan Chhodo Mori Baiyyan (Nagin)

Written by Rajinder Krishan, with music by Hemant Kumar and sung by Lata Mangeshkar, this charming little song has a lot going on.

If I remember correctly, Nagin is about a girl from a tribe that worships snakes who falls for a young man from a tribe of snake charmers. (I could be wrong, it’s been a long while since I saw this movie.) Suggestive, wouldn’t you say?

And here, in this song, we have a very sinuous Vyjyanthimala pleading with her snake charmer boyfriend to please let her go. Every time she tries to step away from him, however, a flute joins the score and she immediately begins to dance instead.

“Sexy” is not a word that Pradeep Kumar’s most devoted fan would apply to him and Vyjyanthimala is far too studied an actor for that kind of spontaneity (remember this?), so it’s little surprise that the two leads play it without an iota of sexual tension for all the leaping and running about they do in the flora. Not that they need it with Lata Mangeshkar soulfully singing her heart out on lines like:

Jhuki-jhuki ankhiyaan dekhengi sari sakhiyaan
Dengi tana tere naam ka

All my friends will see my lowered eyes
And tease me with you name

Hm. Is that so, missy? And what exactly will you be doing to make you so shy, eh? Vyjyanthimala unleashes her usual chirpy expressions on these lines, but Lata invests them with a great deal more excitement and coyness. The actors might invite you to imagine the two of them plan on playing hop-scotch through the night, but Lata clearly has different ideas about what these two crazy kids might get up to.


Chhoo Lene Do Nazuk Honthon Ko (Kajal)

Written by Sahir Ludhianvi (I love him dearly, can you tell?) with music by Ravi and sung by Mohammad Rafi, here is a song that isn’t afraid to say what it means.

There were, of course, a few songs that didn’t mind coming out of the closet, as it were. Usually so the audience could shake their heads in disapproval even as they were titillated by it.

This one cracks me up every time I see it. Mainly because of Meena Kumari’s expression as he offers her a drink – the way she reacts to it, he might as well have given her a cup of poison. I don’t know if her real life alcoholism was public knowledge when she made this movie, but if it was, there is an added level of irony to the whole affair.

As for Raaj Kumar, I don’t know what he was aiming for with this performance, but if “drunken lech” was it then he did a stellar job – although Meena Kumari can wipe that look off her face; if anyone is going to get molested, it’s that poor glass. The only reason he wants her saree is so he can polish it before nomming on it.

Mohe Panghat Pe Nandlal Chhed Gayo Re (Mughal-e-Azam)

Written by Shakeel Badayuni with music by Naushad and sung by Lata Mangeshkar, this is arguably the best Ras Leela song ever shot for Hindi film.

Krishna and Radha are obviously the easiest metaphors to use for a great passion that could be as chaste and pure as the most conservative member of the audience would like or as intense and earthy as the more adventurous members would have.

But when Madhubala bites her lip and gives a naughty little smile as she sings about Krishna wringing her arm and how mad she’s at him for doing it, it’s clear that the beaming royal parents are getting a significantly different vibe from the song than their son with his sultry eyes fixed on the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen.

By the time she crosses her arms and sings about her wet clothes, Dilip Kumar looks like he needs restraints to keep him in his seat. :mrgreen: And his parents have no clue!


Posted by on July 22, 2010 in Entertainment, Movies, Music, Video


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Mixtape of Horrors

Have you seen this video for the “Shittiest Mixtape Boombox Blast”, featuring Aziz Ansari? I believe the guy at 1.13 represents my feelings to a T. :mrgreen:

Now you know there needs to be an Indi-pop version. So I can get my revenge on the blood-curdling howls tracks that rendered my childhood hideous, if nothing else. Here’re my top contenders. Feel free to add your own!

1) Sawan mein lag gayi aag – Long before Rakhi Sawant cast him as the Dr. No to Bollywood’s Item Girls, I knew Mika Singh was all sorts of wrong. Forget him, I wouldn’t want to bump into his “music” on lonely road some night.

2) You are my chicken fry – It’s Bappi Lahiri crooning love notes to his dinner. And what an extensive menu it is. I couldn’t find the original video but it probably can’t match up to this mix anyway.

3) Yaad piya ki aane lagi – Falguni Pathak. Queen of Disco Dandiya. Remember when that was a ‘thing’? The most amazingly butch singer of the most amazingly girly songs. Conundrum who threatened to bust my eardrum.

4) Dekho baarish ho rahi hai (It’s Raining, It’s Raining, It’s Raining) – Try and get this song out of your head. Go on. I dare you. Now try to scrub the image of sad Anu “It’s Paining, It’s Paining, It’s Paining” Malik from your memory. Muahahah! Welcome to my inner world of pain.

5) Chuimui si tum lagti ho – THIS STUPID SONG! With these stupid people in it! They had posters of it! They were fashion icons! Whatever. Teenagers are dumb. And you know who you are!


Posted by on June 7, 2010 in Entertainment, Music, Personal, Video


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The Essential Khanna

The Essential Khanna

May Day! May Day! It’s here! Khanna-o-Rama 2010. The week of all things Khanna that you didn’t even know you needed until you heard about it and realized that your life could really do with a shot or two of Khanna power. The power of hotness.

Bollywood is a family business. Not only do they all intermarry, but successive generations are more likely to follow in the older’s footsteps than not. Producers raise actors, actors marry writers, writers give birth to directors in an endless cycle that makes trivia buffs do a little dance of joy.

The Khannas – Alpha Vinod, Beta 1 Akshaye and Beta 2 Rahul – are a delightful little oddity in this mix. Whereas most star sons carry their lineage self-consciously on their shoulders, the Khannas make the least fuss about it that I have seen. The fact that they barely do any press might have something to do with it (even though the same characteristic hasn’t stopped the Deol brothers from genuflecting with regularity at the altar of their father) but I think there’s more to it. Like a strong sense of individuality and the fact that they don’t seem to have grown up in a conservative family environment a la the rest of the Bolly Brat Brigade. But that’s their personal business.

From a purely cinematic POV, fact is, it’s hard to look at the Beta Khannas and remember Alpha Khanna. Sunny Deol, Abhishek Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan (hell, even Puru Raajkumar) all share a remarkable resemblance with their famous fathers. The Beta Khannas, on the other hand, barely look like each other, much less their parent.

Alpha Khanna smoldered. Akshaye sulks. If Rahul tries very hard, he looks puzzled. When Alpha Khanna gritted his teeth and sneered, panties dropped across India or so I hear. When Akshaye sneers, Paresh Rawal or Arshad Warsi pop up to complete the comic scene. When Rahul sneers, the girl runs off with another boy. Alpha was most terrifying when he smiled – you felt he was either smiling through a sucking chest wound or else he was an unpredictable drunk. My mother, your mother and mothers everywhere go “awww” when sweet little Akshaye-poo smiles. As for Rahul – he looks like he’s inviting you for some illegal-type sexy times with that grin.

And look at their careers: Alpha spent a considerable part of his life playing dacoit, both good and bad, and even did it with a mooch! The only thing Akshaye and Rahul have ever looted on screen with their smooth-as-a-baby’s-bum cheeks is your cash and your girl.

So as you can imagine, it’s not easy to come up with a satisfactory playlist for this family. There are so many and still so few. Where do we begin and where do we stop? Also, Beta Rahul isn’t exactly prolific. So I thought I’d do a Papa Khanna post and follow it up with a Beta Khanna post. Let me know your recommendations! And do click on the badge to your right for more posts related to Khanna-o-Rama!

Meanwhile, here’s what I’m talking about:

Scene Stealer

This is really a Sridevi-Rishi Kapoor movie but third wheel Vinod Khanna and his lost love (Juhi Chawla in the shortest ever two scenes / one song role) have a much more interesting story. Playing the dignified third wheel who always walks off with the audience sympathy if not the girl is something Alpha Khanna perfected over his career.

Things Not to Do

Do not feed the hotness grass. Things to Do – I think he’s got that part nailed.

In Tights

Forget the Betas, I’d like to see anyone pull that outfit off. I’m not sure he does it :mrgreen:

Shake a Leg

So how do we feel about Moushimi Chatterjee? I read her interviews and I come away charmed because she’s so open and honest in a totally non-skeevy way about her life. And then I see her in a movie and half the time I want to bash her head in with a cricket bat. But she makes sense with the Alpha. It’s like they balance each other out. And she was totally adorable as the crazy mom of Beta 2 in Bollywood/Hollywood.

So Tortured

Sob! Come to momma!


Posted by on May 4, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Music, Video


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More like Rapetacular

Dear Children of the World,

If you can’t remember anything more than “rolling over”; if it makes you wonder “what was I drinking? I can’t believe I blacked out”; if you’re wondering if you need to get tested; if you can’t remember what he looked like but imagine he resembles the Z-grade vampire above… then I hate to break it to you but the sex wasn’t spectacular.

And no, I’m not calling you a slut. An idiot, though? Definitely.

You’re welcome.


PS to Disney: the time has come to write in some basic sex ed classes into those teen contracts.

PPS to parents of kids addicted to Disney: I hope your kids weren’t into the Cheetah Girls.

[ONTD via DListed]


Posted by on April 7, 2010 in Entertainment, Music, Video


Blast From Govinda’s Past

“What on earth is that?” I asked, my eyes as round as saucers. “Is that a videotape of Hum?”

I was at the home of an old friend and I might as well have found the Holy Grail. Technically, Hum isn’t the best of anything – not even Amitabh Bachchan’s flameout era, the short period that preceded his equally short retirement after which he came out to unleash horrors like Suryavansham and that weirdo flick with Manisha Koirala (?) on his unsuspecting public before finding his feet in the Noughties.

Co-starring Govinda in his pre-buffoon days and Rajnikanth in one of his last Hindi roles, Hum is like an orphan child. It’s not cool like the 70s flicks, it’s not hilarious like the 80s flicks, it’s not gut wrenchingly awful like the 90s flicks, nor is it interesting like the 00s flicks. It’s just one of those also-rans famous mainly for that song in which Kimi Katkar refused to kiss AB. I mean, there you go: it starred Kimi Katkar. Doesn’t that tell you everything you need to know?

And yet! Here was a zany masala movie that featured prominently in my childhood thanks to my cablewallah – a man, I’ve come to realize, who has affected my taste in cinema more than any other person in the world.

There was Danny Denzongpa as the tortured, once-vicious shipping tycoon who watched his wife and babies roast to death; Anupam Kher as a rather scary villain who Uriah Heeps his way into power; Kader Khan chewing everything in sight per usual; a very thin Shilpa Shirodkar; Deepa Sahi as Rajnikanth’s wife; Kimi Katkar and her fabulously plastic wardrobe; Govinda as romantic hero; and Rajnikanth playing straight man. And of course, AB as Tiger the Dockyard Toughie, who leaves his ladylove behind to give his baby half-brothers a better life.

Hum is one of those movies that you remember as being Story A until you watch it and remember, “Oh yeah! There was also Story B. And C. Damn, I totally forgot about D… What the hell? Where did E come from?”

And as far as I’m concerned, this is the overlooked classic from that movie. Observe:

The Love Revolution: Look! It’s a song in which young love literally snaps its fingers in the face of authority! Her father is even in an army uniform in case you missed the point.

The Glitz, the Glamor: Hey, remember when Hindi films recruited their party extras off the street or the local colleges or whatever? Look at those dumpy, frumpy chicks in their sad I-Can’t-Afford-the-90s outfits. And that’s after they rip their salwar kameezes off. Look at the boys in their Creepy-Ice-Cream-Seller-Will-Molest-You outfits. So fly!

Birds of a Feather: What did the baby ostrich say to Shilpa Shirodkar? “Mommy, you’re home!” Seriously, that is one 80s-fabulous dress – it has net, a feathers motif, gilt, a pouf, detachable bits…and her frilly hat isn’t one of them! She even accessorizes with a giant tika on her forehead. Somebody was cleaning out her closet in preparation for the 90s and I strongly suspect it was Shilpa’s designer.

Manly Men: In the age of Real Men, before Shahrukh Khan turned into a wedding planner for his unibrowed ladylove and bitched about missing his meals for karva chauth, lovers did things like put out fire with their bare hands and use lamps in highly symbolic ways. He might be wearing a pink jacket, but he’s all man. Yeah, baby!

Dance like You Mean it: Give the partygoers something to interpret by simulating sex right there on the dance floor. Once upon a time, Bollywood knew how to work it. Before all those fancy foreigners ruined their innocence.

Candle Light: Wherefore did thou go, candle wavers? I bet “Thama Thama Loge” used up all the candles in Bollytown, thus putting a small army of candle wavers out of business. Greedy pigs. How cruel.

Prior to that happy day when I discovered my old friend’s secret shame in his dusty stack of outdated media, I’d hardly ever given this movie a thought. I don’t even know if this thing is available on DVD but if it is, it’s a perfect bit of rented nostalgia.


Posted by on April 5, 2010 in Entertainment, Movies, Music, Video


7 Days of the 70s: Day Five

Welcome to The 70s Blog Mela in BollyLand! For seven technicolor days, your favorite Bollybloggers turn their back on The Golden Made- in-Bengal Age of Hindi Cinema and take time off from cribbing about modern cinema to focus on the era that taught us the true meaning of paisa vasool. Click on the link above or click here to catch up with all the fantastic posts you might have missed.

Vamp Up the Volume

One of the enduring legacies of 70s cinema is what it did to the treasured tradition of the vamp in Bollywood. As the seductive dancing of the Bad Woman got more and more frenzied, the music got faster and the costumes progressively risque – until the more adventurous heroines began to wonder why they weren’t getting in on any of that fun action. By the time the 70s drew to a close, the iconic age of Helen, Aruna Irani, Bindu, Padma Khanna and Laxmi Chhaya was all but over and we were down to Simple Kapadia and Kalpana Iyer as the likes of Zeenat Aman and Rekha among others began to cut in.

Originally this post was going to be another listicle, but once I got started, there were just so many great songs that I wanted to include that it got progressively harder and harder to choose just ten. I could’ve filled most of the spots from 1971 alone. After all, the 70s were also an amazing decade for music in the Hindi film industry. Besides, I was bored with all the listicles.

Instead, as I trawled Youtube for videos, I was struck by how the Bollywood vamp had stories to tell that were often more compelling than that of the heroine’s.

Padma Khanna’s most famous song, for example, from Johnny Mera Naam might have been titillating but its context was truly sad: she was dancing for the life of her lover and herself. It does not end well.

The trope of vamps as girls who will do anything for the sake of their men is one that comes up again and again. Helen’s cat-eyed turn in Don comes to mind, in which Kamini not only goes to bed with her fiance’s killer but puts on one hell of a show in order to delay him long enough for the police to get there.

And then there was Laxmi Chhaya’s bravura performance in this song from Mera Gaon Mera Desh. Never has a Bollywood song begged harder for some fanfic. You know Dharmendra must truly love Asha Parekh if he’s giving up all that for her and her conical headgear. Dayum. (Get more Laxmi Chhaya goodness here.)

And then there is Bindu. When I was compiling my little listicle, I was sure how it was going to turn out: a huge list of Helen songs with a few others thrown in to break the monotony. Because Helen was the Queen. And yet, Bindu was the one I found really difficult to strike off my list.

The more videos I watched, the more it seemed to me that there were three broad tiers of vampdom to be seen:

The first one is occupied solely by Helen. She did the occasional seduction piece that involved one on one action in humdrum settings like the ones in Don and Mere Jeevan Saathi, but by and large her cabarets were works of art. The set pieces, the choreography, the costumes, the context – there is a very definite artistic vision about them. From all accounts she was very particular about her songs and was in a position to bargain with the producers of her films about the quality of her work. And it showed. Helen was very, very sexy but she wasn’t really selling sex – she was selling fantasy. Her most iconic performances are those in which she never steps off the stage or, if she does deign to mix with the hoi polloi, she does it as a mark of great favor. Helen does not beg for anyone’s attention; she commands it.

The second tier belongs to young ladies like Padma Khanna and Laxmi Chhaya. There’s a whiff of good girl gone bad about their performances. If they were strippers, they’d be doing it for college tuition. Their performances are so wild and unrestrained, that it seems to form its own natural barrier against the thoroughly male milieu in which they take place. It’s one thing to admire a chick in hotpants having a jiggly meltdown in front of you, it’s quite another to get your hands on her. Although there’s a fair bit of contact between the performers and the audience, the dances themselves suggest birds struggling to take flight.

And then there is the third tier: the woman of experience. When she walks into a room, she knows what you’re thinking, likes it and knows exactly how she likes it. Aruna Irani is a good contender for it with her performances in movies like Caravan, Mili and Bobby to mention just a few but Bindu was the one who seems born to play her.

When I was little and didn’t really understand the finer points of human plumbing, I couldn’t understand how Bindu got to be a famous vamp in the same era as Helen. There was my darling Helen with her ballerina figure and her deranged Broadway musical outfits, dancing on her tippy toes with feathers in her hair like she’d just gotten off the time machine from the Belle Epoque and there was Bindu with her generous figure barely contained in slinky bits of nothing, slithering all over the place like an auntie who’d had a couple glasses too many. What was that all about?

Sex. When Bindu works a room, she maintains excellent eye contact with the man (or woman as the case might be in movies like Kati Patang and Shaque) she’s chosen and her objective seems to invade their personal space. She might be the object of the audience’s gaze but she retains control by choosing her target and turning him into the object of her desire. It is absolutely fascinating.

The third tier threat isn’t that this is a Bad Woman who does Bad Things like drink and dance in front of men wearing clothes that display too much flesh. The third tier threat is that of a succubus. Mess with this woman and she might just consume you. She isn’t just immoral, she’s dangerously immoral. She promises you the ultimate sexual thrill where you might just lose control. And be happy to do so.


Posted by on February 26, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Music, Video