Item songs are the modern day cabarets...

By Sameer Wadekar, Indo-Asian News Service

imageMumbai, Dec 17 (IANS) Sizzling item numbers have become so essential for the success of Hindi movies that even a serious filmmaker like Prakash Jha can't resist them.

His recent release "Apaharan", a film about the kidnapping industry in Bihar, has an item number "Aao babuji kuchh baatein karenge", according to Bollywood Trade. Item songs are not only indispensable, they have become acceptable too.

A few years ago, songs like "Choli ke peeche" and "Lotan kabutar" had created a furore in the country. Despite all the criticism, the songs were not chopped off from the movies.

After that the trend just took off. Every filmmaker started to slice in an item number and it became a sort of fad in the filmdom. Some songs were really good and complemented the story line and fitted well with the flow of the film.

"Makhna", "Chaiyya chaiyya", "Chamma chamma", "Mehboob mere", "Khallas", "Babuji", "Aisa jadoo daala re" and now "Kajra re" have become a rage with the audience.

The filmmakers use all kinds of gimmicks to package these item songs with the latest hook-up being promotional music videos. Video culture is popular in Hollywood and now it is fast catching up in Bollywood.

Music videos of the title tracks are shot and aired on TV channels for publicity and so far audience response has been encouraging.

But item songs are not a newly devised concept. They were always a part of Hindi films - in olden days they were called cabarets.

In the 1950s Nadira riveted the crowds on the foot tapping number "Mud mud ke na dekh" and who can forget sensuous numbers like "Piya tu" and "Mehbooba mehbooba" featuring Helen. "Husn ke laakhon rang" from the film "Johnny Mera Naam" is one of the best dance numbers of all times.

Over the years things have changed - musical trends, choreography tenors and filmmaking styles. But those sizzling numbers have not lost their appeal.

The only difference is that in those years a Helen or a Bindu would be the regulars but today almost everybody seems to join the bandwagon.