Thursday, February 25, 2010

70's week: Music and song picturizations.

Some of the first Bollywood music I ever heard was from the groovy 70's, when my friend gave me Rough Guide To Bollywood, about the only Bollywood music you could find at a Finnish store. Since I was such a newbie at that point, I hadn't heard any of these songs apart from DDLJ's Tujhe Dekha To and embraced this new music. And so I grew to love the classic 70's songs. Dum Maro Dum... Roop Tera Mastana (oh Kishore Kumar in this track!).. Chura Liya Hai Tumne.. Great stuff.

But of course, besides having the luscious vocals of Asha Bhosle, Kishore and Lata, and many great soundtracks composed by my favourite oldie composer R. D. Burman, these great tunes also have context.

The first song of Parvarish has our heroine sisters Neetu and Shabbo pocket wallets and watches from various people, while singing that everything belongs to the public ("Sab janta ka hai"). Shameless, you might think, but curiously both the lyrics and picturization elude to societal issues, like the rations where the government had grain behind locked doors but it didn't trickle down to the people who needed it the most (I may be over-simplifying this due to my shoddy understanding of Indian history - feel free to correct me).

The next song, Jaate Ho, is if at all possible even more brilliant. The girls have one-upped the guys by plotting their own marriages but the when the guys refuse, Neetu and Shabbo melodramatically decide to kill themselves. The guys show up to tease them, as each of their suicide methods go stale, and then offer them help. "Don't light yourself on fire with those matches, have this lighter!" I am hysterical watching this song but not laughing at suicide; I think at the core it is the heroines' over-dramatic behavior that elicits the laughter, and of course the fact they never really want to kill themselves - it is an act that the guys are participating in by teasingly offering them more efficient methods. And it is hilarious.

Every so often you encounter people who fast-forward songs in movies and think the songs offer absolutely nothing to the overall plot. Very well, I say, they have a point about some films, and with some songs. But sometimes, the song is a scene like any other, even with the song-and-dance, and it contributes to the logic of the film just as the scene that preceeds it and the one that comes after it.

Such is the song Hum Premi (dreadful quality on the youtube video, my apologies!), which at face value is a typical love song. In context of the movie, however, it becomes an incredibly clever dialogue between Amit and Kishan, heavy with dramatic tension as Amit suspects Kishan of being a crook. Even in terms of acting, the scene is fascinating, to see how they react to each other. Naturally, the DVD subtitles probably don't capture half the poeticism of the original lyrics, but even in their blunt form they make this a great scene to watch.

One of the best scenes in the movie, easily.

There are some other utterly fun songs in the film certainly worth discussing - like the qawwali of sorts with the heroines - or the utterly fun Neetu-in-a-maid's-outfit song as Amitabh harrasses her - but I think I'll skip ahead... plug this brilliant fanmade video that takes the best bits of Parvarish and sets it to the Neetu-maid-outfit-song (Aayiye Shauk Se Kahiye). It's definitely spoilerous because it has all the best bits, pretty much, but nevertheless, well worth checking out if you need to refresh your memories of the film.

Friday's post will be about villains, action and all things badassery.


bollyviewer said...

Jaate ho jaane-jaana is such a brilliant song - the lyrics the picturisation everything fits so well! I am the sort who often fast forwards songs, but thats usually in post 80s movies where the songs rarely add to either the story or the beauty of the film. 70s though, had some of the best song-picturisations and Jaate ho is one of them!

And by the way, the first song is Sab janta ka hai (everything belongs to the public) not Sab ka janta hai (the public belongs to everyone).

veracious said...

Christ, that's what I get for typing these posts in a over-caffeinated state. Mess up my Hindi. XD

Thanks for the correction.

Songs and music are largely why I got into Bollywood in the first place so I always feel bad skipping song picturizations, no matter how vapid or dull, there's always something entertaining about them, and in older movies they can be absolutely integral.

Amrita said...

Everytime I hear the French have voted once again to ban the burkha, I think of Nicolas Sarkozy singing "Purda hai, purda / Parde mein koi, pardanasheen hai" from AAA.

Oh, I'm such a child.

PS - add me to the Jaate Ho lovefest! It is fab and funny.

veracious said...


And yep, Jaate Ho is so good & fun. :)