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SHOCK VALUE

Bawdy lyrics rules Bollywood

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In Luv ka the End, newcomer Taaha Shah dressed in drag sings about his pumped-up body in graphic detail. Of his sculpted pectorals, he says: 'Chaalees ki chhaati chikni hai/ ki waxing maine itni hai...Mera jism jism, mera badan badan, main hoon taza mutton mutton (My size 40 chest has been waxed so smooth...my body is like fresh mutton). '

The now-famous 'mutton song' in the latest campus rom-com from the Yash Raj stable doesn't really leave much to the imagination. And just a few weeks ago, Deepika Padukone shocked viewers when she crooned 'Oonche se ooncha banda/ potty pe baithe nanga (The mightiest in the land sit naked on the potty)' in Dum Maaro Dum's title track. Not to forget Mallika Sherawat singing 'Allah bachaaye meri jaan/ ke Razia gundon mein phas gayi (God help me, I am surrounded by rakes)' in Anees Bazmi's Thank You.

Is it just us or is everyone wondering what happened to Bollywood music and lyrics? After a welcome phase of quality verse writing from fresh talents like Prasoon Joshi, Jaideep Sahni and Amitabh Bhattacharya, Hindi films now seem to be sliding into shocking banality. These, after all, are writers who redefined film songs with their critically-acclaimed compositions in movies like Rang de Basanti, Taare Zameen Par, Udaan and Khosla ka Ghosla.

Not that Bollywood hasn't churned explicit lyrics in the past. For collectors of cheesy songs it is difficult to forget the early- and mid- '90s when ribaldry ruled. Remember the orgasmic strains of Chad gaya upar re (Dalal), and Choli ke peeche kya hai (Khalnayak)? Govinda-starrers unleashed an entire jukebox of vulgarity starting with Sarkai lo khatiya jaada lage (Raja Babu). Some of the best lyricists have dabbled in sly porn. There was Anand Bakshi's Saat saheliyan (Vidhata) - stories of high-octane lovemaking. And Javed Akhtar, who has won the Filmfare award for Best Lyrics an aweinspiring 14 times, got naughty with Padosan apni murgi ko rakhna sambhal (Jaadugar).

What's different this time, though, is that the new crop of song writers is doing away with the metaphors, innuendos and similes. The new lyricist, blase and bold, is offering the stuff as it is, the way the filmmakers want it - lean and hard. Dum Maaro Dum and taaza mutton don't beat around the bush or hide behind provocative visual props. They go all out using words which earlier would politely get beeped out. But Sahni, the film writer and lyricist who in the past has penned uplifting words for Chak de India, gets away saying crude things about defecation and the way it is done. The song, set in a rave party in Goa, quickly sees boundaries of social decorum and etiquette dissolving as pill hits tongue. The sound track of Love, Sex and Dhokha, an in-your-face voyeuristic narrative of urban relationships, included Dibakar Banerjee's Tu nangi achchi lagti hai (You look good naked). The censors promptly changed it to Tu gandi achchi lagti hai (You look good messy).

Bhattarcharya, who wrote both the mutton song as well as Raziya gundon mein, is unapologetic about the trend. These songs, he says, work fine with the edgy work that is au courant among Bollywood's bold, new filmmakers.

"Such songs add to our repertoire and let us experiment with our talent. Filmmakers today offer so much creative space and freedom to artists. This has made us fearless. We don't shy away from pushing the boundary, " says Bhattacharya, who has also written some tracks for Dev. D and Band Baja Baaraat. His contention is that songs these days are extensions of the film's narrative and, therefore, need to be understood in the right context. "The mutton song is set in a situation where a young guy, who's visibly high, dresses up as a woman in a dance bar to have fun. As a lyricist I had to do justice to the context. "

Ishita Moitra, an upcoming script writer, agrees with him. "If an item number is set deep in the hinterland of Bihar, then it has to sound like it is from there. A nautanki dancer surrounded by drunken village men will not be singing romantic stuff like Tujhe dekha toh yeh jaana sanam, " she says.

What sets these songs apart from their predecessors in the '80s and the '90s is the style and approach of the writing. "If you temporarily suspend moral judgement then you can make out whether a song is well written or not. Item numbers, too, can be brilliantly written," says Jai Arjun Singh, a cinema enthusiast and author of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron: Seriously Funny Since 1983. 

Veteran lyricist Neeraj, who has written classic songs for Prem Pujari, Nai Umar ki Nai Fasal and Sharmilee, says, "There are great songs being written by Prasoon (Joshi), Javed (Akhtar), Irshad (Kamil). This bad writing is only a phase - producers want to draw more viewers. But eventually great music will happen."

Filmmakers also fall in the trap of formula success. If a particular song becomes a runaway hit, producers bombard audiences with various versions of the same idea. In early 2000s, Kambakht ishq was followed by Ishq kameena and Nikamma kiya iss dil ne. Later, there was a round of dupatta songs. Now the foot-thumping success of Sheila and Munni has bred numbers like Raziya gundon mein and soon-to-release Shalu ke thumke in Bin Bulae Baraati. It's obvious they are all trying to outdo each other's shock index.

But not everyone is charmed by this fresh burst of extreme explicitness. Anuja Chauhan, author of Zoya Factor, is definitely not impressed. "Just because you use a bad word in a song does not make you bold, and rhyming banda with nanga is not poetry, " says Chauhan, a successful copywriter who understands the importance of wordcraft.

Chauhan also says that a song may appear harmless or funny on screen, but when imitated in real life it may neither look innocent not amusing. "The mutton song is picturised on a man. But when girls dance to it in parties and sing it along. . . that's when it's no longer funny, " she says. 

OVER THE TOP 

VIJAYPATH 

Kal saiyan ne aisi bowling kari ek over bhi main khel paayi nahin (Last night, my beloved bowled so well, that I couldn't last even one over) 

EENA MEENA DEEKA 

Sajna ke saath madhaiya mein Bada majaa aaye rajjaiya mein (With my lover in my hut, it's great fun inside the quilt) 

SANAM BEWAFA 

Angoor ka daana hoon sui na chubha dena (I am a tender grape, don't poke a needle in me) 

MARD 

Hum to tambu mein bamboo lagaye baithe (I ended up shoving bamboo into a tent) 

VIDHAATA 

Arey doctor ki biwi na banna kabhi, Raat bhar muaa sone na de, injection lagaye ghadi ghadi. . . Saat saheliyan khadi khadi (Never marry a doctor, he doesn't let you sleep, gives you a shot every now and then).

Reader's opinion (7)

Pradeep SinghMay 12th, 2011 at 16:41 PM

Great article.There must be a line between decency and vulgarity.If they called themselves as lyricist at such a big level,they should be able to write for these situation with non vulgar words.

Mayank KediaMay 12th, 2011 at 12:23 PM

These songs will never be able to bring success to the movies. I mean only a good story well presented gives you box office returns.

Shirley MathiasMay 11th, 2011 at 16:10 PM

But so these songs sustain the test of time? Definitely not. It is indeed crass when i hear my 6 year old sing it not knowing what it means.

atif sMay 11th, 2011 at 15:50 PM

1 hell of an article, and amazing research.

Shirley MathiasMay 11th, 2011 at 14:06 PM

But so these songs sustain the test of time? Definitely not. It is indeed crass when i hear my 6 year old sing it not knowing what it means.

Akhil AggarwalMay 10th, 2011 at 11:49 AM

There is nothing wrong in writing these kitschy songs as long as the story demands it(know it sounds cliche).Dum Maaro Dum and Shiela justify the necessity for such rowdy songs, but couldn't understand the logic behind Munni and Razia...

Manoj BMay 7th, 2011 at 10:54 AM

Good Read!!!Takes u back the years :)!!!

 
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