Friday 23 November 2007

Not An Essay: Hindi Film Music

When Western friends shift in their seats with discomfort and go, "It's just... I hate it when they break out into song and dance!" The PPCC will usually respond by pushing the table aside and demanding, "For the love of God, loosen up a little! Since when is Darth Vader or a car exploding in mid-air or Americans blowing up an alien spaceship any more realistic?!"

Actually, we don't really say this, as we are peace-loving and non-aggressive, but we do usually think uncharitable thoughts, e.g., "You damned ethnocentric philistine."

Because when people describe Hindi films as "Indian musicals" and declare them tacky, unrealistic, or even the dreaded kitsch, we at the PPCC become annoyed. As Homer Simpson said in the one episode featuring Kishore Kumar: "Look! Their culture is different from ours! Isn't that funny!"

Yet the songs of Bollywood films are a treasure on their own! We at the PPCC just love being able to judge yet another aspect of filmmaking: how well were the songs used? How was the music overall? Because some films, most notoriously 2002's Devdas, can be very lopsided, with their song-and-dance sequences shining out like pearls in a sea of hogwash. There's also, we believe, a particular aesthetic to the inclusion of music, and we at the PPCC are always eager to find new paths to the sublime. Subliiiiime.

Some Examples of the Sublime Aesthetics of Hindi Film Songs

Our favorites.

Koi Haseena Jab, Sholay (1975)

Duniya Banane Wale, Teesri Kasam (1966)

Bekhudi Mein Sanam, Haseena Maan Jayegi (1968)

Mere Mehboob Mere Sanam, Duplicate (1998)

Maar Daala, Devdas (2002)

Salaam-e-ishq, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar

Some Excellent Resources for Finding More


Beth Loves Bollywood said...

Despite being v v musical, if I do say so myself (or I can sing it for you if you want) and being very interested in film music in context, it's not something I tend to discuss publicly much. I think this is partly because I can never remember song names and always have to say "You know, the one that goes [hmmm here]." Also being scarred by No Song Subtitles can make a person afraid, very afraid, to discuss songs too much lest she say something totally stupid but that she didn't know about because she doesn't know much Hindi yet.

Anyway, I think it is important to note that sometimes songs are hogwash too, whether in lack of fit into the film, musically, lyrics-wise, too many teleports within a picturization, whatever. There are so many things to consider, and any of them can go wrong at any moment. Or they can just be really boring and not add anything, which is also annoying (yes you, Hum Tum. Stupid cheerleaders in France).

roswitha said...


a ppcc representative said...

Beth, oooh, now you've just GOT to give some examples of awful songs. I haven't come across any that were too bad; though the 12-headed horse doll one from Abhinetri was pretty horrific.

And Roswitha! OMG HELLO TO YOU TOO! Now our interests can unite into one uniform blog thing!!

Beth Loves Bollywood said...

Fun challenge! At which I will undoubtedly fail miserably! Here's the aforementioned cheerleaders-in-France song from Hum Tum (sans subtitles)
It has lame dancing and public displays of electric guitar. I luuurve Saif and Rani, so it's not them. But for the love of god, choreographer, do not let Saif play with the pompoms.

And from Commando, here's "Mere Naam Zumzum" (or perhaps it's called "Dance Dance Party" - hard to say)

You should definitely do a post to solicit bad songs.