Sunday, February 05, 2006

Where have the cheesy numbers disappeared?

This post by the 'One (and only)' got me thinking about the days when movies did roaring business despite non-existent storylines, by piggy-backing on 'cheesy' numbers.
Remember any of the following? (Then you get what I mean by 'cheesy' numbers)

Tu cheez badi hai mast mast...(Mohra)
Sexy, sexy, sexy mujhe log bole, hi sexy, hullo sexy kyun bole?! (Kudrat)
Chhatri na khol barsaat mein...bheeg jaane de aaj is raat mein (Gopikishen)
Gutar-gutar, gutar-gutar. Chad gaya oopar re, atariya pe lotan kabootar re. (Dalal)
Choli ke peeche kya hai (Khalnayak)

Said a lot without directly saying anything at all...ignited a 'naughty' thought and left the rest to your imagination! Ok, now I must get on with the point this post is trying to make.
In the early nineties (I think after the unprecedented success of 'ek do teen' and the film it belonged to - Tezaab), almost every moviemaker wanted to hire a music director who could give his movie that 'one, seeti-maar number'.

So you had every music director worth his salt churning out numbers with 'double meaning lyrics' (I love that phrase). And most of these songs thrived on the controversy they created. In fact many a time, the lyrics of these songs made every parent bristle with indignation over the corruption of their little ones. And then there would be the mandatory public outcry (sometimes even a suspicious PIL in court) following which the music company would change / modify the lyrics (with great fanfare) to ostensibly mollify hurt public sentiments. Let me explain what I mean by modification...

'Sexy, sexy, sexy mujhe log bole' became 'Baby, baby, baby mujhe log bole'
'Dinon mein leti hai, raat ko leti hai' became 'Dinon mein kehti hai, raat ko kehti hai'

But curiosity had been piqued by then. School kids to other curious parents (who wanted to know what they should guard their kids against) to roadside Romeos (another favorite term) were listening to, singing tunelessly or looking out for the songs in question.
And that brings me to the genesis of this post. I loved these numbers. They were peppy and it was fun to see how they could rile people into a moral frenzy. But more importantly, I think they worked perfectly as a 'safe and healthy' outlet for an entire generation of kids, adolescents and adults brought up in an environment of denial. Singing these songs gave people their CTs.
It was the most an eve teaser would do (I am talking from a Hyderbadi's perspective here) at a bus stop or outside an icecream parlor. Maybe a more adventurous eve teaser, in a sudden need to differentiate himself amidst the sea of similar-intentioned chaps, would substitute 'choli' with 'Tshirt' (one actually felt sorry for the chap trying desperately to make that rhyme with the rest of the song).

Adolescents would have private dance parties (dancing for 15 minutes with exactly 3 friends, with the doors and windows shut when the parents had stepped out of the house to buy veggies or some such) and feel the thrill of rebellion while dancing to this 'aiyyo vulgar' song.
Kids would pool in money to buy the poster of the heroine in the movie (in that song) and take turns hiding it in their respective homes (till the next such song came up).

And the gals? Oh, we too hummed these songs (under our breath) or loudly sang them when we had PJ parties and felt a queer thrill (much like trying on bhaiyya's cologne, dad's cigarette).
Over a period of time, these songs got more and more explicit and worse - their visual depiction moved from the fully-clad suggestive movements to barely-clothed make-out sessions. So today, there are several songs with more than suggestive lyrics since entertainment itself has become so 'in-your-face' (even a song like 'leke phela pehla pyaar' has 'Jism-like' movements), and there's no secret thrill to be experienced any more. It's all there - out in the open, more explicit than ever.

There's no premium on restraint anymore!

While I can get down to the negative repercussions of this development, I think I will stick to bemoaning what I miss the most...the fun of cheesy numbers.
Remember? Even the great Amul (that only covered issues of national / controversial interest) decided to accord the 'tu cheez badi hai mast mast' number the honor of being spoofed on!
And the final proof of how much these numbers added to our life can be guaged from the instant connection that was established on campus when you spontaneously broke into a dance while
'Sarkailiyo khatiya jaada lage, jaade mein balma pyaara lage' was playing!
Oh, I miss the cheesy numbers...I am tired of the surfeit of sexplicit videos and chiselled foreign models belting out inane English numbers.