It’s been a long time off the keyboard and away from my baby, but now we are back on the circuit and this time we are not going anywhere for a long long time. Life updates are coming up pretty soon on what we have been up to but without any further delay, let’s get into today’s topic – Design of item songs in Bollywood.
Item songs. You cannot fall in love with them but you cannot stop yourself from grooving to them at a party (as long as you do not heed any importance to the lyrics). One of the first “item” songs that introduced me to the term was the song “Babuji Zara Dheere Chalo” from the movie “Dum”. I was still in middle school and this was the first song where I saw a girl dancing amidst a horde of men looking at her. That was back in 2003 and nothing much has changed in the last 14 years, has it? From Munni to Sheila to Chikni Chameli to Afghan Jalebi to Laila Main Laila, we have come a long way and in some ways, we still haven’t.
For today’s post, we are not limiting ourselves to item songs in the sense that they are performed by stars who are not a part of the film but songs that are included in the movie for the pure purpose of adding a peppy upbeat song in the album. Also, we will not be talking about the “party” lyrics, the “sexualised” video or the chords that are way too similar to all these songs. We talk about the three parts of the video that caught out attention the most – looks, lights and shots.
Look Of The Song
So, most of the songs are rammed right in between the storyline while adding nothing worthwhile to the story and sometimes are put during the end credits as a bonus video. But, the point we are discussing today is the look of the actors or the stars in the song.
In Focus: Humma Humma from OK Jaanu
The song is set when the couple is stranded in Gujarat with only one hotel room to spend the night in which turns out to be the “Honeymoon suite”. The song is set in a way that they are getting ready for bed when the song plays on the radio. Aaditya is seen sporting a pair of jeans with a bandhni shirt while Shraddha is seen in a black shirt with lace or gota work shorts. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE both the outfits but it does not go with the scene and the song would have been a super hit irrespective of how they were dressed or if the scene was inside a hotel room or out exploring the city. I liked the way Jab We Met did the songs wrt looks. All the songs in the movie got it right when it came to the costume department. With simple travel-friendly clothes in Aao Milon Chalein and especially the repetition of Geet’s clothes when Aaditya dreams of her in “Tum Se Hi”, now you look at a song like that and you realize that some thought has been put into it.
In Focus – The Breakup Song from Ae Dil Hai Mushkil
Even though the movie failed to impress at the box office, all of the songs were chartbusters. The upbeat song of the album was The Breakup Song with its upbeat music and insane lyrics. This song also is the perfect example of why I do not prefer watching songs anymore and end up seeing them for the first time when watching the movie and all the credit goes to the lighting.
A common factor of the item songs is the dingy low lighting. Usually, the lighting is dim but there is a red tinge that is present throughout the song. Add to that white or yellow spotlights that are constantly flashed on the actors. The end effect is not only visually unappealing but actually loses the viewers’ interest. Humma Humma uses colored glasses to bring in the colored scenes throughout the song. If we somehow pardon The Breakup Song for being set in a nightclub, the same situation is seen in Badtameez Dil, Sheila Ki Jawani, Shanivaar Raati, Kar gayi chull, Nashe Is Chadh Gayi etc. And on a serious note, why is the dimming of the lights and then turning them on such a popular style? I don’t understand it in clubs and I certainly don’t understand them in songs.
In Focus – Nashe Is Chadh Gayi from Befikre
The song created an uproar when it came out when people couldn’t stop praising the actors for their dance moves in the song. But I’d urge you to ponder on one question, how many seconds long were the dance moves shown where the camera shot was not cut with another angle or scene. Try to remember the last time you saw multiple moves in the same angle without sudden cuts to other angles from behind, top and bottom. And whats up with the top and bottom shots anyway. Another song that actually weirds you out with the shots is again “The Breakup song” with it’s mirrored shots. One dance move is shown one way and on the next beat is a mirrored shot of the same move.
These points have made me resort to listening to songs over watching them since a long time. Have you noticed these in a song before? Let us know your favorite dance song these days and if they follow any of these design principles. Hoping to hear from all you guys!
PS: AIB’s Every Bollywood Party Song is a defo must watch!