Bakkamma bakkamma! Bollywood songs with wacky lyrics.

Trishul_1978_film_posterMan, it’s hot! The former Garden City is now officially the hottest city in south India.

Stuck indoors due to the heat, one decides to indulge in some filmi nostalgia.

The first song in my collection is one of Kishore Kumar’s wacky numbers from Half Ticket. And that motivates me to compile a list of Hindi songs with wacky lyrics. Considering that I compiled this list from largely from memory, I think I haven’t done too badly.

1) Lara lappa lara lappa layi rakhda … Ek Thi Ladki, 1949.  This timeless hit from the late 1940’s is one of the very few songs that features Mohammad Rafi with his idol, GM Durrani. You can hear Rafi in the chorus. GM Durrani was India’s first male professional playback singer. Rafi modeled his voice after him, in his early days. The female lead voice is that of Lata Mangeshkar.

manoranjan2) Goyake chunanche … Manoranjan, 1974.  Inspired by Irma La Douce, a novel and rom-com from the 1960’s, and directed by Shammi Kapoor, Manoranjan was a spicy comedy with Zeenat Aman and Sanjeev Kumar in the lead. Unlike other Indian movies, Manoranjan depicted prostitution as a fun activity, with the heroine openly enjoying herself with several men. No wonder the movie was generally panned by serious film critics. But the lay public (like me) enjoyed watching it all the same, and this wacky item song topped the charts.

The lyrics were penned by Anand Bakshi. Apparently, the phrase Goyake chunanche is from Urdu, and it roughly means ‘although therefore’. It is the wrong way to use Urdu, which explains Shammi Kapoor’s horrified expressions in the song.

3) Taka taka dum dum … Do Aankhen Barah Haath, 1957.  Widely accepted as one of Indian cinema’s all-time classics, V Shantaram’s bold movie on prisoner rehabilitation won several awards. All the songs of the film were hits, especially ‘Ae maalik tere bande hum’, at the end, rendered by Lata Mangeshkar.

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Lata Mangeshkar also sang this off-beat dance number, performed quite vigorously by Shantaram’s wife, Sandhya.

4) Bakkamma bakkama yekada pathoda … Shatranj, 1969.  Rendered by Rafi and Sharada, this wacky dance number performed by Mehmood (who else?) and Helen was the highlight of an otherwise forgettable spy thriller.

I’m not sure why Hasrat Jaipuri used Telugu words when he wrote the song, but Shankar Jaikishan did a pretty decent job of composing a dance number with such weird lyrics.

5) Ramaya vastavayya … Shree 420, 1955.  Another classic from the black-and-white era, Shree 420 dealt with the chronic issue of corruption in our society. The movie was a runaway success and each song in it was a hit.

The lyrics were by Shailendra, regarded as one of the finest song-writers of his time. He heard the Telugu phrase ‘Ramaya vastavayya’ in the folk songs of migrant laborers in his neighbourhood, and used it in this evergreen hit.

6) Gapuchi gapuchi gamgam … Trishul, 1978.  Admittedly, I remember this song because of Poonam Dhillon in a wet, tight, green monokini, rather than its lyrics! Poonam Dhillon was a Yash Chopra discovery and Trishul, directed by him, was her debut film. She made quite an impression with this one song, written by Sahir Ludhianvi. That led to her lead role in Chopra’s very next venture, Noorie, the movie that made her a big-time star.

7) Muthu kodi kavadi hara … Do Phool, 1973.  Another wacky number featuring Mehmood. Do Phool had Mehmood in a double role and at his comic best. This particular song was performed by Mehmood himself, along with Asha Bhonsle. Mehmood’s co-star in the song is Rama Prabha, a prolific Telugu character actor who appeared in more than 1400 movies. Rama Prabha acted in two Hindi movies, and Do Phool was her sole performance as female lead.

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8) Eena meena deeka … Aasha, 1957.   Without question, this is the wackiest of the wacky numbers. Only Kishore Kumar could pull off a weird number like this – although Asha Bhonsle sang a version as well.

Eena meena deeka has an interesting history. The music director for Aasha was C. Ramchandar. He was asked to create a fun song. While he was scratching his head trying to figure out a suitable tune, he was distracted by some kids outside, constantly chanting Eeny, meeny, miny, mo. That inspired him to create the song. His assistant John Gomes was a Goan, and he added a Konkani touch, with the words ‘Maka naka, maka naka’.  And Kishore Kumar performed and enacted the song in his characteristic style.

Fifty five years later, Eena meena deeka still makes people break out into a wild dance, no matter which generation they belong to.

9) My heart is beating … Julie, 1975.   It’s not a wacky song, strictly speaking. I added it to this list, because to my knowledge, ‘My heart is beating…’ is the only fully English song to feature in any Indian movie.Julie_1975_film_poster.jpg

And what a lovely song it is. Composed by Rajesh Roshan, and superbly rendered by Preeti Sagar on her debut performance, the song is one of the all-time Bollywood hits, although it is entirely in English. Preeti Sagar received a special Filmfare award for this song, and rightly so.

Did you know, that the lyrics of ‘My heart is beating…’ were written by Harindranath Chattopadhyaya? If you don’t know who he is, Google him. And shame on you.

Cheers … Srini.

Queen of the Nautch Girls …

There was a time in Bollywood when crazed fans would wait for hours to buy a ticket, not to see the hero or heroine of the movie – but to see the vamp! And she was not just any vamp. One five-minute cabaret number by her was enough to guarantee a movie’s success.

When ‘Caravan’ was released in 1970 with an Adults only rating, I was too young to be allowed into the theater. I had to wait fourteen long years for Caravan to be re-run in 1984, at Rupam Talkies, Sion. And fourteen years later, I still couldn’t enter the theater, because of the huge crowd! I paid the princely sum of Rs 20/- for a black ticket, just to see her famous cabaret number, ‘Monica, o my darling‘. And boy, she was worth waiting fourteen years for.

Such was the allure of Helen Jairaj Richardson. She was sensuous without being sleazy, voluptuous without being vulgar, erotic but not obscene, and she brought grace to a much-maligned dance form in Indian cinema, the cabaret.

Born to an Anglo-Indian father and a Burmese mother, Helen’s family migrated to Bombay in the early 1940’s to escape World War 2. At the young age of 13, she was obliged to drop out of school and look for work. Helen was trained in Kathak and so her friend Cuckoo took charge of her career and got her a job as a chorus dancer.

Helen made her debut in 1951, at an age when other girls were still playing with dolls. She appeared in several songs as a chorus dancer, and did some dance numbers with her friend and mentor Cuckoo. Helen got her big solo break in Howrah Bridge in 1957, with the mega-hit item number, ‘Mera naam Chinchin choo‘.chinchinchu

After that, Helen did not look back, as she rapidly became the top dancer of her time. Her dancing skills were not restricted to skimpy cabaret numbers alone. She shone in classical dance numbers too, as in ‘Tora man bada paapi’, from the movie Ganga Jumna.

It was an era of rigid social mores in India, as the country still had a strong hangover from the British Raj. The heroine in Indian cinema was typically portrayed as a Bharatiya naari, a nice and homely type, who would be happy to cook and wash clothes and wait patiently for her hero to come home. The heroine would never do anything ‘bad’ like smoking, drinking, driving a car, wearing T-shirts and trousers (although ultra-tight salwars and wet sarees were allowed), or worst of all, dancing in public with other men. That was the role of the vamp.

Helen’s westernised looks made her an automatic choice for these roles, since only ‘western’ women were like ‘that’. Unfortunately, Helen got typecast in these roles. She usually was the ‘other’ woman in many movies of the sixties and seventies, the dancing vamp with the golden heart and an Anglo name like Monica or Susie, who’s madly in love with the hero, but gets rejected by him since she is not a ‘Hindustani’ ladki, and she conveniently dies at the climax of the movie so that the hero and heroine can live happily ever after.

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Even so, Helen could steal the show from the lead heroine, as she did in films like Teesri Manzil, Woh kaun thi, Caravan, Gumnaam, Mere Jeevan Sathi, and Inkaar (in which her single item number ‘Mungla, mungla‘ made the movie a silver jubilee hit).

Helen is not only the best item girl ever, but she has had the longest career as well. She began at the age of 13 and when she finally retired as a cabaret artiste she was close to her fiftieth birthday. Her sizzling cabaret numbers in Sholay (1975), Inkaar (1978) and Don (1978) were all performed when she was in her late thirties and early forties.

I’d say her best cabaret number was ‘Yeh mera dil‘ in Don. Helen was forty at the time, and still set the screen on fire. In comparison, Kareena Kapoor’s remixed version of the same number in SRK’s 2006 remake of Don was anemic.

After an incredible thirty year career, Helen finally retired as a dance artiste in 1984, but then went on to shine in character roles in modern films like Khamoshi and Mohabbatein.

Merchant-Ivory made a long documentary called “Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls”, and film journalist Jerry Pinto wrote an award winning book on her life, “Helen -The life and times of an H-bomb”.

Here’s to Helen!

 

Cheers … Srini.

Six utterly brainless but eternal Bollywood plots … or Picture abhi baaki hai.

Trishul-19781Before watching a Bollywood movie, leave your brains at home. Bollywood’s plots do not challenge your intelligence, and they have remained unchanged since the days of Dadasaheb Phalke. Here are six such undying plots. With minor variations, you will see these eternal classics in almost any Bolly movie.

1) The Incredibly Accurate Tactile Pregnancy Test, or, ‘Mubarak ho …’

In the middle of her marriage ceremony, the heroine swoons. A doctor is readily available on the spot. He lightly touches swooned heroine on her wrist and loudly announces, “Mubarak ho. Yeh maa banne waali hai”.

Pandemonium breaks out, the groom and his father are livid, the bride’s father gets a fatal heart attack, the bride’s boyfriend is revealed as the impregnator and is beaten to a pulp and dumped into river. Impregnated heroine raises out-of-wedlock child by washing vessels, swabbing floors or building massive buildings with bare hands. Out-of-wedlock child becomes grim loner and plots deadly revenge. After two decades, pulped boyfriend returns as an internationally famous multi-billionaire, sees the girlfriend he impregnated begging outside a temple. Tearful reunion follows. Unfortunately, hero is already married and has several legitimate children. Hero tries to keep his two families separate, but violent clashes occur, leading to the aged hero’s grievous injury or heart attack. Pending issues are hastily resolved between warring families and a hasty reconciliation follows, just as hero breathes his last.

2) The Fantastic Total Eye Transplant, or, ‘Ab dheere dheere ankhen kholiye’.anuraag_1326889403

Hero has sister/mother/helpless friend who is blind. The eye specialist demands an astronomical sum to restore eyesight. Hero goes on a looting spree, but takes care to steal only from the rich and corrupt, gets caught by the cops, and is shot or hanged. Before he dies, he ensures that his eyes are donated to blind sister/mother/friend. In a simple one-minute operation, the eye doctor performs the world’s first double total eye transplant.

After healing within twenty four hours, and opening eyes slowly, slowly as ordered by doctor, the fortunate recipient demands to see the hero first, only to be shown a large photo of late hero with a garland around it. Recipient bursts into tears, and is promptly shown a letter by late hero stating that he did not donate eyes for the purpose of crying. Recipient then smiles bravely and goes on to become a major success in life.

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3) The Vein to Vein Direct Blood Transfusion, or, ‘Khoon khoon hota hai, paani nahi’.

Elderly woman is in critical condition, following horrific road accident. Victim has a rare blood type, that is unheard of in medical history and is to be found only in the victim’s offspring, all of whom have been missing since decades. Turns out however, that the doctor’s chaiwallah has the same blood group. And chaiwallah in turn knows a friend with the same blood group. And that friend in turn has a neighbor with that very blood group, and so on. All blood donors are rushed to hospital and doctor saves victim’s life by directly transferring blood from donors to victim with some plastic tubes. After elderly woman sucks up enough blood, she stages a full recovery. It occurs to no one that donors and recipient might be related, and they go their separate ways. They all stumble on the truth at the very end of the movie. On the way, the long-lost offspring demolish the villains who were responsible for offspring becoming long-lost, and pick up brides/grooms, to save the elderly mother the trouble of getting them married off.

4) The Mind-boggling Divine Restoration, or, ‘Patient ko dava nahin, dua ki zaroorat hai’.Deewar

Impoverished hero has a parent with a terrifying incurable disease like cancer/weak heart/renal failure/paralysis/all of these. Hero decides to become deadly criminal to make enough money to save loved one. Impoverished hero turned deadly criminal meets decent girl who teaches him the error of his ways with one or two inspirational songs. Reformed hero takes decent girl home to seek dying parent’s blessings for marriage, and finds that parent is struggling for life in hospital. Reformed hero has no money in hand, since he gave back all that he stole, thanks to his decent girl friend. Penniless hero cannot afford pharmaceutical products, and so he rushes to nearest religious shrine, where he delivers a stirring tirade against the resident deity or performs a very vigorous devotional dance number that culminates in bells clanging, thunder and lightning, earth shaking, and complete recovery of dying parent. Marriage between hero and decent girl then ensues.

With appropriate modifications, the same plot applies in case of impoverished heroine with dying parent. Except that, instead of becoming a deadly criminal, the impoverished heroine decides to sell herself to leering, pot-bellied businessmen.

5) The Even more Mind-boggling Divine Reunion, or, ‘Bhagwan tera laakh laakh shukar hai’.yaadon-ki-baarat-wallpaper

Law-abiding parents with multiple offspring lead a blissful life in a cute cottage. One fine day, parents teach offspring their family’s signature song, just in case they get separated in the near future. Alternatively, they give each child one piece of a precious heirloom that must be worn around the neck at all times. Parents’ foresight proves sensible. One day later, they are slain by intruders. Children get dispersed across the nation, each is conveniently found and raised by nice couples who are conveniently childless themselves. Children grow up, all move to Bombay, and take up residences within walking distance of each other. So happens that all the villains who dispersed the children are also in Bombay, also within walking distance of each other. Eventually, villains and dispersed children wind up in the same room, children exchange verses of their signature song or join up their pieces of the family heirloom, and then proceed to slaughter villains, following which they saunter off into the sunset, without worrying about minor issues like the police and the law.

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6) The Justice-seeking Relentless Reincarnation, or, “Janam janam ka saath hai”.

My personal favorite this. Nasty, greedy zamindar or lustful king casts his evil eyes on hapless hero’s real estate or his curvaceous girlfriend’s curves. Curvy girlfriend is molested or jumps off a cliff to prevent molestation, while hero is beaten, burnt, buried under rubble or meets a similar agonising death. An instant before agonising death, hero and/or girlfriend snarl at the villain and promise to return in the next life and keep returning in subsequent lives until justice is done.

A few years later, hero and curvy girlfriend reincarnate, and live in different parts of the country.

The reincarnated protagonists do not remember who they are, and lead normal lives. Until one day, due to a knock on the head, or a similar traumatising mechanism, they suddenly recollect intimate details about their past life. Then they both revisit the place of their death and proceed to search for the villain, who is now an aged man but still a lecher and a creep nevertheless. A ferocious showdown occurs and the villain is usually killed off by a chandelier or something equally heavy falling on his head or by impaling himself on a sharp object, so that the hero has no legal consequences.

Reincarnated hero and heroine then proceed to consummate their undying relationship and, presumably, stop reincarnating themselves henceforth.

Mix and match these plots in any manner you please, throw in an item number by Katrina Kaif or Mallika Sherawat, and you can become a famous movie maker yourself. If SRK can, so can you!

Cheers … Srini.