Item numbers are definitely Bollywood’s greatest innovation, well, ever. They have been so successful, mostly because they’re a peculiarly Indian phenomenon, where titillation is best served rated U, so that the family’s day out at the movies doesn’t get awkward or boring
You see, sex is alright, but we can never be candid about it. We had forefathers who enjoyed the clandestine mujra, had hot flashes when the odd dame flashed a navel, and were constantly on the lookout for more, so to speak.
The legacy carried over, but with the convenience of TV and a popular media that would pander to all your wicked fantasies, the couch would eventually becomemujra central, and ‘item numbers’ those performances made up of tiny innuendos and glory that the losers could take to bed with him.
Let’s catalogue some of those. It can’t ever be boring.
Chhaiya Chhaiya okay, but where am I going to find a traintop to dance on?
This was Malaika Arora’s day in the sun. Or the mountain mist, if you’re the pedantic sort. I can’t remember if she was already married back then, but honestly, it never mattered. Not even today.
A part of the trick that worked for this song was AR Rahman’s groovy composition; tub-thumping like Bollywood had never known it. Shahrukh did his bit too, by dancing away from Malaika Arora, and never obstructing the view.
Tip Tip Barsa Paani, and now we’re all wet.
So now you know the child’s secret turn-on. And Raveena Tandon would too, although I can’t bet that she’ll end up reading this article.
Mohra, the movie this song’s from, just happened to release when I was old enough to, you know, grasp the enormity of the, erm, situation.
Ignore the song completely – except the trippy opening sitar hook that got lost somewhere in Kumar Sanu’s nasal drag – and, of course, the wet matted hair on Akshay Kumar’s chest.
Ishq who? Ishq Kameena
Everyone forgot the movie, but you can’t forget this song, even if you tried. Remember Shakti? Yes, that was the movie this song is from. Nevermind; you’re definitely not the only one to not know.
Ishq Kameena was a good experiment, in the sense that it showed just how fine the line between vulgar and sexy could be. And there is a line alright. Unfortunately, Shahrukh Khan serenading Ishq, The Kameena, in what seems like a fishnet tank top doesn’t really bring sexy back.
Homely Homely Mujhe Log Bole.
Back in 1994, this was an empowering moment for Generation X, or Generation Y; whichever was the first to wear jeans and like it. This was the first time a song was specifically intended for the hormonally overwrought teens, with lyrics that spoke to them.
I’m not really in with what was cool in ’94, but ‘Sexy sexy mujhe log bole’ went too far as a song title. Grimaces, hurried eye-covering (and subsequent peeking) followed, before the ‘Sexy sexy’ bit became ‘Baby baby’. Karishma Kapoor still put in a good performance, the gaudy styles of the 90s notwithstanding.
The Babuji Syndrome.
And just when established actresses became too expensive to be carted and videoed gyrating, Bollywood had the solution ready. They were going to import their item girls. What could possibly be hotter than a Slavic blonde dressed and carousing like one from the hinterland villages? It had to work.
To be honest, Yana Gupta did raise hopes. She does an impressive lip sync (didn’t notice, ah?), besides doing the Indian village girl act, even atop a buffalo. The whole wine-dripping act wasn’t bad either.