Saturday, May 29, 2010

The final chapter

Unless someone else comes up with something…

Well, this is amazing! Even Dips, the chalta firta dictionary of Hindi films, including B and C grade ones, has failed to come up with any new input into the quality based songs. The only track he could add Was something I’ve never even heard –

TERI PYARI PYARI BAATEN MUJHE ACCHI LAGTI HAIN – apparently from the Madhuri Dixit and Anil Kapoor Starrer JAMAI RAJA.

As for me, much wracking of the brains has produced nothing at all. The only songs I can think of, describing a woman’s qualities rather than looks, are horrible background tracks in tear jerkers. Stuff that goes on and on about how a woman is weak/goddess of purity/personification of sacrifice. Movies like “Jeevan Dhara” and “Sansaar” had such numbers, which I find frankly disgusting.

The only positive background WOMAN song I can think of, offhand, is “Hasti Teri Vishaal, Kudrat Ka Tu Kamaaal” from “hum dil de chuke sanam.” An almost unknown part of this great soundtrack, the number has amazing lyrics, and just the kind of talk I like to hear.

As for the other challenge, the description of a Man’s looks in Hindi film songs, it’s not faring much better either. The dictionary man has suggested

SASURAL GENDA PHOOL from Delhi 6. A good choice, especially with the “bush-shirt pahinke khaike beeda paan, poore Raipur se alag hai saiyan ji ki shaan”

So… good one!

And another…

BACK MARTA HAI Front Marta Hai– from POLICE OFFICER starring Jackie Shroff and Karishma Kapoor.

This one I don’t know at all, hence cannot comment.

Well, that’s about it for these two threads for now. If anything new comes up, we’ll see.

Friday, May 28, 2010

praising male looks --- another SEARCH!

The other point made in the original blog that sparked off this line of thought was that this trend of obsession with looks does not work both ways. (Rita also brought up this point in her comment to the results blog. Yes Rita, I have considered it). While the hero is constantly seen to ogle and laud the woman’s looks, the woman doesn’t turn around and say “the same to you” or “you are pretty hot yourself you beefcake”. Very few songs are about the body of the man. Apparently, the “good girls don’t think about sex” rule applies here as much as it does anywhere else. Also…men are “heere ki anguthi” priceless by virtue of the fact that they are male. Who cares what they look like right?

Although, after a little thought, I did come up with a few songs from Hindi films praising or teasing a man based on body parts/looks.

"ude jab jab zulfen teri kawariyon ka dil machle" young yummy Dilip Kumar being Adam teased by an equally scintillating Vaijayanthi Mala. Naya Daur

"uncha lamba kad hai, chauda bhi to had hai... dekhne me tagda hai, jungle se pakda hai" from "sapne me milti hai" Satya

"paan khaye saiyan humaro...sanwari hai sooratiya hoonth laal laal" Teesri Kasam

"chikni soorat tu kahan tha ab talak ye bata" Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke (major Adam teasing scene with Aamir Khan being teased by a factory full of women)

“bade hain dil ke kaale haan yahi neeli si ankhon wale” Asha Parekh singing to Shammi Kapoor to which he replies “soorat buri ho bura nahi dil mera” Dil Deke Dekho

“hansta hua noorani chehera, kaali zulfein rang sunehra, teri jawaani tauba tauba re dilruba” Parasmani. Two court dancers addressing the princess’s lover.

That’s all I could remember offhand though, which frankly isn’t much when you are talking about some 50 years of film songs. So what say we have a parallel competition? Think of songs praising/teasing MEN …. Based on looks.

And the SEARCH continues ...

Some more entries have come in. this time, I’ll do a running commentary/analysis.

Bhai suggests:

Samne ye kaun aya – nice number, and not overtly about looks. Although not about any other qualities either. Just impact.

Lets say …. MAYBE

Tum a gaye ho noor a gaya hai – about the feelings “you” inspire, rather than who or what you are. Celebration of finding a soul-mate. Conceivably, the soulmate has a lot of qualities.


Tumse milke – again…more about the effect of love on one’s life than about the beloved.


O ri chori – really lovely romantic song. Definitely no mention of looks. But is it about qualities either? Its more of an “I love you, will you be mine” duet.

Chhoo kar mere man ko – lovely number. Beautiful lyrics, Rabindranath Tagore’s tune. Definitely about the EFFECT the beloved has, rather than what she looks like. No mention of any particular qualities either though.

So…definitely a MAYBE

O mere dil ke chayn – again, amazing number. Lovely lyrics. The only mention of qualities is “tum jo pakad lo haath mera duniya badal sakta hun main”. However, this could be construed as either HER strength, or the strength HE derives from love.

So… another definite MAYBE

Jeevan se bhari teri ankhen – hmmm…. On the surface…”what was crazyuddie thinking????” it’s ALL about looks right? “rangon chhandon me samayegi kis tarah se itni sundarta”; “madhuban ki sugandh hai saanson me” (is lack of bad breath a look or quality do u think? :D putting it down to PHYSICAL though) and “baahon me kamal ki komalta”. However, in my mind at least, “kirnon ka tej hai chehre par, hirnon ki hai tujhme chanchalta” are about WHO she is… strong, playful, rather than what she looks like. Also, “jeevan se bhari” eyes that make you want to live, seems like a definite positive quality.

So…. Another definite MAYBE

Dard e dil – flirting with an Unknown. Hardly about any qualities. Impact yes. What happens when the thunderbolt hits you for the first time. But, by definition, love at first “sight” is about appearance…right?

So…. I guess that’s a NO, unless anyone can suggest reasons to the contrary.

Phoolon ke rang se – now this one’s weird. A love song for one’s land. However, uddie suggests that imagining it addressed at a beloved, it might work in this category. Hmmm yes it would.

Rita went with

Kaun aaya mere man ke dwaare, paayal ki jhankaar liye – don’t have the lyrics to that one, so cannot coment….anyone?

a tum hume jaano, na hum tumhe jaanen – nice number. Beautifully sung in Hemant Kumar’s honeyed voice. However, is it about the beloved at all? More about the beginning of love, the thunderbolt, the effect of meeting this person, and what’s happening after that.

That’s a NO in my book.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Results are in...

Well, I sent the challenge out to the four winds, and about 40 people, and man the harvest was meager! After much brain wracking and play list surfing, among all the great Hindi music buffs in my ken, only three people have come up with any possibilities. And that...not many. Here’s the list.

Hits came up with two.

Aap ki aankhon me kuchh

Humen tumse pyaar kitna

Papai suggested

Tumse accha kaun hai

Pal pal dil ke paas

Sam thought of

Ek ladki ko dekha to aisa laga

However, I think it would be wise to examine the numbers one at a time to see how far they match the criteria.

First off, there is “aap ki aankhon me kucch”. (Not a bad candidate. Gulzar, of course….probably the only true shayar left in Bollywood today.) Definitely a love song, and definitely not about his or her looks. On the contrary the shayar very clearly states “aap se bhi khubsoorat aap ke andaaz hain”. Andaz does not translate well, but could be rendered as personality/ mannerisms/ behaviour. So, clearly, something OTHER than looks is important here. It’s all the more obvious from lovely, super romantic phrases like “aapki khamoshiyan bhi aap ki awaaz hain”, “lab hilen to mogre ke phool khilte hain kahin”, and so on, that looks are the last thing on the poet’s mind.

So that’s a definite YES!

“Humen tumse pyaar kitna”. Not really a part of the category that I had in mind….but since it wasn’t possible to make myself clear, in detail, over the limited canvas of text messages. So, it’s a valid entry, and worth considering. Overall, it’s definitely not about looks at all, and except for “tumhe koi aur dekhe to jalta hai dil” there is not hiccup in the entire song. Although it is more about the intensity of feelings, rather than the person those feelings are for, it’ll do. As for the hiccup line, it smacks of unwarranted possessiveness, a sense of ownership, and jealousy. However, these are qualities most people seem to appreciate and expect in a lover, and Bollywood certainly makes a virtue of them, so I shall let it pass in spite of my personal dislike for them at any level and in any measure.

So, another YES!

“Tumse accha kaun hai”---- hmmm don’t know much about it except the first two lines. So I cannot comment… inputs anyone?

“Pal pal dil ke paas” is another of those songs about FEELINGS rather than about the PERSON. But yes, it is DEFINITELY not about looks at all. More about the feeling the beloved inspires in the lover, rather than her physical appearance, the song is a fine example of what poets were able to achieve a few decades ago that poets today have forgotten. Lovely song, lovely lyrics, beautiful filming.


As for “Ek ladki ko dekha to aisa laga” – although Sam was the first to suggest it, many others have text-ed me about it, as an answer to my challenge. Lovely number, without a doubt, and on the surface at least it seems like it’s not about physical appearance. However, does closer examination bear this out? Although it has amazing imagery and beautiful lyrics, the first line is an indication of what it is about. When I saw her, she seemed like…. Although they can be interpreted as impressions of her personality/ purity/ whatever, one cannot deny that the entire flight of fancy is based on having seen the girl for something like 20 seconds. Hardly enough time to get BEYOND looks one would think.

In my opinion….that’s a NO

Monday, May 17, 2010

The politics of “roop tera mastana”

I was reading a blog post on one of the blogs that I kind of follow, and the subject was popular Bollywood songs. She was talking about how every single popular (and most not-so-popular) Hindi film song, addressed to a female beloved is always in praise of looks. Whether it is “roop tera mastana” or “ye kalikali aankhen”; whether it is “chandan sa badan” or “jadoo teri nazar”; it is all about the body, beauty, youth, of the woman.

Is there nothing to a woman, noticeable or praise worthy, apart from her looks? No qualities, capabilities, talents, that one can see and appreciate? Is LOVE based only on how black my hair is or how teekhi my glances are? And if so, do women with average or below average looks have no right to expect love? (Oh, by the way, the woman is always “gori” or fair. “gore gore gaal, gora chehera, gora mukhda”. Darker skinned women are not beautiful apparently)

Thinking about it, I couldn’t come up with any love songs either, where anything other than a woman’s body/looks were praised. Its amazing! Not a one! Am thinking of throwing this challenge to all my friends now… find one! I hope someone can tell me some, because the more I think about it the worse it makes me feel. We CAN’T be that shallow…..can we?

And even if one can eventually come up with one or two, what does the dismal dearth of them say about how we see women as a culture? What messages are we sending, subliminally and otherwise, to generations of Indian youth about women, and love? Is it any wonder then that “beauty parlour” is the hottest and fastest growing business sector? That fairness products are the biggest market segment? Or that LOVE disintegrates so fast here? Maybe this also connects to my observations about the “love marriage” in India. Not surprising that most don’t work, if looks and “ada” are the only things love is based on!

So…. A woman is only worth anything if she is beautiful and fair. A man can fall in love with her for that and find his MAD LOVE uncontrollable. A woman has no right to think about the man’s looks or of sex. Less than beautiful or less than startlingly fair women have no right to expect love. (Thank god for that one actually, wouldn’t want the kind of love that is looks based).

Friday, May 7, 2010

Marriages are made in heaven II

After my blogpost titled marriages are made in heaven, I got some comments, and a lot of flack from friends who assumed I was very prejudiced and anti-arranged-marriage. Now, while it is true that I think arranged marriages are a supremely inefficient way of finding someone you can love and live with for the long term, I am not thrilled with what passes for a love match in most Indian couples either. So, in deference to fans and readers and well wishers…’s chapter 2 (the LOVE MARRIAGE).

One very dear friend, in his comment to the previous post, mentioned the fact that, in India at least, love marriages seem to fare equally badly, if not far worse than arranged marriages. I’ve had this thrown in my face before as well, every time I have committed the grave sin of bad mouthing the great Indian marriage. Usually, it is people who have chosen to go the good old way, or are planning to, and usually it is a knee-jerk “us and them” kind of reaction rather than a considered one. And, what’s worse, it comes from a place that assumes that I mean to applaud “love matches” uncritically.

Anyway, whining aside :D, one needs to examine what these people mean by failure of a marriage. The concept of a mismatch, of absence of sharing, of not finding your soul mate, of an irretrievable breakdown of a marriage has no place in our combined mental ethos. After all, culturally, we expect none of those things from a marriage. Marriage, to us, is a huge ritualistic tying of the knot between two families of comparable worth/social standing. The principal characters expect little from it other than a few years of regular sex tapering off as the kids arrive and take over the entire focus of life.

Since we expect estrangement and a lack of true communion, since we expect the “fires” to cool after a while, and to be two people co-existing, we don’t see it as a FAILURE of the marriage. So, for these detractors of mine….a failed marriage is ONLY one that ends in a divorce. And yes, love marriages do end in divorce more easily, if only because there are fewer social pressures involved that would force the charade to continue, and because there is a greater degree of expectation of true communion. As someone pointed out recently, arranged marriages seem to be something you go into with the mentality of “que sera sera” and a complete absence of any thought of ANY POSSIBLE OUT. No matter what, unless the excrement REALLY comes in contact with the ceiling air agitator, it is a ‘saat janmon ka bandhan’ to be borne with or without fighting, whining and making each other completely miserable, “till death do us part”.

Does that mean I think love marriages are better? NO I do not think the common Indian love marriage is much better than the great Indian arranged marriage, at least in the way that I see it practiced around me. Couples who have been boyfriend and girlfriend for decades finally get married and, as likely as not, split within the year. Couples, who couldn’t wait to tie the knot, suddenly find the ties tighter than they would like and lose no time in untying themselves. Even if they do manage to survive the first few years, I am seeing increasing incidences of estrangement and dissatisfaction later in life, leading to more and more cases of infidelity and abandonment.

So what do I think is the problem here? Not very hard to see if you just think of what passes for love, relationship, or “affair” (I have a problem with the usage of this word in Indian English… but that’s another blog post in the making) here. First of all, there isn’t usually a concept of getting to really know the person or of love growing out of acquaintance, even friendship. On the contrary, once someone is in the “friend zone’ they tend to get automatically disqualified as a prospective spouse or partner. So, essentially, one just sees someone one likes, mistakes a liking or attraction for the physical aspects of that person for love, and goes up to them to say ‘I love you’ or some such.

With a beginning like that, are the next weeks, months, years any better? Does the couple somehow redeem itself and reach a depth of understanding and adjustment that is necessary for a combined life? In most cases…. NO. The time between the creation of the couple and the solemnisation of the pact is usually spent in ROMANCE. This is a BAD word for me, because it smacks so much of shallow pretence and has so little potential for real communication. Playing the ILU ILU game for years and years is, in no way, a method of forming or advancing the steel strong bonds they will need to weather a life together. Presents, valentine cards, candlelit dinners and moonlit walks are great, provided one works on the important things too – like communication, and adjustment, and what I think versus what you think, and how I was raised versus how you were raised.

In the absence of such negotiation, married or cohabiting life comes as a huge shock! No matter how many years of two hours a day you have spent together, you NEVER know the issues that will crop up….until you are actually living under the same roof. That’s when the daily aggravations of slob versus neatnik, MCP versus open mind, toilet seat up/down, snoring, and hell alone knows what else, raise their ugly head. Having not built up the bedrock of strength and mutual respect that will anchor the relationship despite all possible irritants, things get blown out of proportion when the scales finally fall from the eyes and the true colors of the beloved, the real person behind the rose tinted boyfriend/girlfriend, is finally revealed.

Of course, there are exceptions. I know many couples who took their time, REALLY looked long and hard at the other, and at the relationship, saw all the problems and faults, and then decided they could deal with it. Those are the strongest couples… you guys know who you are, who I am talking about, so take a bow guys….KUDOS! And YES YES YES, in this sense, love marriages are better, if only for the simple reason that an arranged marriage hardly gives you the time or the choice to make that examination. Other than that, unless one grows a brain and shows some maturity, it’s a “lose-lose” scenario -- neither system works.