Continuing with some of my favorite musical numbers for films M-Z.
1. From the 1997 Minsara Kanavu (Tamil) with Kajol, Avind Swamy, Prabu Deva and music from AR Rehman. This is a very peculiar offbeat romance - sort of an upside down Roxanne in which a shy fellow in love with Kajol hires a talkative comic relief barber to teach him how to court her - but against all expectations the barber falls for her and she for him. Prabu Deva is considered the best male dancer in Indian film and a fine choreographer as well - his looks though have generally consigned him to roles other than the hero. This is a lovely number that feels very old Hollywood musical - an intimate setting that brings on memories of Astaire/Rogers. It is during this song that the couple realize that something romantic is lurking in their souls for one another.
2. From the 2001 Nayak with Anil Kapoor and Rani Mukerjee. This is yet another score from A.R. Rehman and is one of his best. It is a wild and crazy film in which Anil becomes Chief Minister for a day and cleans up government with his fists and finds love with a lovely village lass. My song choice from this film though is what they call in the industry an "item number". It often has little to do with the plot of the film but is just an opportunity to dazzle the audience with a fast paced song with oodles of sex appeal and has a female guest appearance of either a star or an unknown that the producer is probably sleeping with. In this instance, it is Sushmita Sen who was Miss World and a very well-known Bollywood actress. This is one of the more famous item numbers ever and I never get tired of watching it.
3. From the 1997 Pardes with Shahrukh Khan, Mahima Chaudhury and Amish Puri. This is a terrific romance with a large element of anti-west sentiment woven throughout. In it Shahrukh is living in the USA and has to act as the middle man between an arranged marriage for his boss and a young woman back in India. In the process he falls for her and learns that his boss is a complete swine, but can't do the right thing. This is just a catchy song that I recall humming the main refrain of for days afterwards. Amish comes across some children who want to go to America and tells them in song to love their own country.
I Love My India
4. From the 2000 Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani with Shahrukh Khan and Juhi Chawla as rival journalists going after the big stories. Among the sparks of course romance blooms and they team up to save a man from being unjustly executed. When Shahrukh wasn't opposite Kajol in films, Juhi was often his female love interest and they have a very likable chemistry. So much so that they formed a production company together. The film has a few very playful songs - the energetic I am the Best and this one.
Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani
5. From the 1980 Qurbani with Feroz Khan and Vinod Khanna jousting for the affections of Zeenat Aman. An enjoyable action film that pauses from time to time to catch Zeenat in her nightclub act. This disco influenced song was a big hit. The outfits would fall directly into tacky territory but Zeenat can look good in anything. She was one of the first Indian actresses who broke through the heroine/vamp stereotypes by being able to be a little bit of both. That is Feroz Khan looking on.
Aap Jaisa Koi Meri Zindagi Mein Aaye
6. From the 1996 Raja Hindustani with Aamir Khan and Karishma Kapoor. Poor boy loves rich girl but has such a big chip on his shoulder that he can't see that she loves him too. Not one of my favorite films but it contains one of my favorite songs. A group with Aamir and Karishma have gone driving out into the countryside and come across a band of gypsies who break into this astonishingly mournful song. Aamir joins in the song and Kareena realizes that she cares for him - which sends her snooty entourage into fits.
Pardesi Pardesi Jana Nahi
7. From the 1998 Soldier with Bobby Deol and Preity Zinta. He is a hired killer and Preity is the daughter of a man he wants to kill so he uses her to get close - but needless to say falls in love. This song is a bit trite and goofy I suppose but it is another one that I found myself singing the refrain for days afterwards, but its main appeal is simply Preity being adorable and doing this cute little marching step.
8/9. From the 1998 Taal with Aishwarya, Anil Kapoor and Akshaye Khanna. This was the second Bollywood film I watched - again at the recommendation of the same friend who thought I would like Aish - this time he was spot on. She is knockout glorious in the film and it is still her warmest performance in my book. She is an innocent village girl who gets swept into show biz and has two men falling for her. Sadly, I thought she ended up with the wrong fellow. This is my favorite film score with so many good songs - A.R. Rehman again of course - so I had to choose two. The first is when she is still a village belle and dances in the rain, in the next one she has become a bit more glammed up. She is a feast in both songs.
Taal se Taal milao
10/11 From the 1973 Yaadon Ki Baaraat with Zeenat Aman and Dharmendra. India has a special genre of its own that you could call Broken Families and Amazing Co-incidences. Many films revolve around siblings who are separated as children and then later in adulthood unknowingly all find themselves in the same room. This one is a classic - three sons get split up after their parents are murdered and one becomes a musician, another a student and the final a thief looking to avenge his parents. I will include two songs again for this one. The first is one of my favorites songs from Bollywood that begins with the clinking of two glasses and then pans to the stunning Zeenat with guitar. The other is when the musician brother sings a song at a concert that his father always sang - and sure enough both his lost brothers happen to be in the room. Corny? Ya- but boy does it work within the contaxt of the film.
Chura Liya Hai
Yaadon Ki Barat
And finally two just fun songs that I like to watch from time to time to just feel good. One is from the all time tackiest film ever made, Disco Dancer, and contains clothes and dance moves sure to bring a smile to the most curmudgeonly among us - the quality of the video is rather poor I am afraid but nothing can hide fashions this bad. It makes you pray every night that disco will never make a comeback.
The other one was made famous in the film Ghost World and is just pure pleasure. It comes from the film Gumnaam and has absolutely nothing to do with the film plot, but who cares. It is just a dance number that you wish you could imitate at parties. After this number the film relocates to a deserted island with a group of people stranded on it who begin getting killed one after another.