Item numbers spicing up small screen too!

By Radhika Bhirani

New Delhi, Jan 9 (IANS) Racy songs and sizzling moves like in "Sheila Ki Jawani" are no longer limited to Bollywood, discos and weddings. The small screen too is cashing in on their popularity with TV actresses grooving to item numbers in pre-wedding or party sequences in soaps.

Popular item numbers are being interspersed with the story to jazz up the proceedings in
Zee TV's "Ram Milayee Jodi", "Mera Naam Karegi Roshan" and "Sangini", Colors' "Laagi Tujhse Lagan", Sony's "Baat Hamari Pakki Hai" and STAR Plus' "Pratigya" to name some of the serials.

Ajay Bhalwankar, programming head for Sony, admits there is a rise in the frequency with which Bollywood item numbers are being used on TV shows these days but points out that the trend isn't entirely new. He also feels the increase in Bollywood item numbers itself is a key reason for the trend.

"The trend has been there on TV for the last three years, but now there are a lot more channels using them. What has also fuelled this is the number of item songs in Bollywood," Bhalwankar told IANS.

At one point, most channels and producers had started creating their own tracks for situations or would use the show's title track in the background like in "Kasautii Zindagii Kay" and "Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi" to add some music in the storytelling. But film music took over soon.

"Music, being an integral part of Indian entertainment, has always been so for serials too. The challenge always was that it takes time for music to grow on listeners; therefore specially recorded music for serials came and went in shows without much of an impact, unless it was the title theme that played again and again.

"So already popular film music began making an appearance on television a few years ago," said Vivek Bahl, executive creative director (Programming), STAR India Pvt Ltd.

Of late, sizzling item numbers like "Munni badnaam hui" and "Sheila ki jawaani" have found many takers on the idiot box during pre-wedding sequences like a bachelor party or a sangeet function.

Actress Barkha Bisht recently shot a song sequence for "Ram Milayee Jodi" for the wedding of the lead characters, and she performed as part of a bachelor party scene. Similarly, Mink Brar danced on "Munni badnaam hui in "Pratigya", and Sara Khan grooved to the same number in "Baat Humaari Pakki Hai".

"The songs depend on the situation in the show. These are usually used at weddings and parties, where the same are common in real life too," said Bahl.

But dance sequences increase the production cost of an episode by a margin of 10-20 percent. So Bhalwankar says it is also pertinent for the performance to fit into the script, and should not be forced just to grab eyeballs.

"Song and dance sequences in TV shows must be used only if the storyline permits...so as one would see in most shows, these are included during wedding tracks or whenever the protagonists go for a party or visit a discotheque," he said.

While shooting item numbers, channels also keep in mind not to go overboard with the bold and sexy flavour the original Bollywood version might have and and keep it subtle so that it is conducive for family viewing.

Viewers too feel this self-regulation is important.

"We usually watch TV with our children and when something vulgar comes up, our children don't know where to look and we feel odd switching the channel at that point. So it helps if channels are careful themselves about what is wise to show and what's not," said Shalini Agarwal, a mother of two.

Nevertheless, the audience is all for item songs on TV shows for the little spice they add to the storylines.

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