Item Numbers rss

“Hum bhi agar bachche hote” (Door Ki Awaaz, 1964)

December 15, 2017

Note: This is not an item number by any stretch. It is a children’s song. But it is my birthday and I couldn’t find any good item numbers to write about. “Hum bhi agar bachche hote” provides a look into 1960’s upper class Indian life. The birthday boy is surrounded by friends and family, a… Read More ›

Xmas Tree by Bollywood Santa (2014/2015)

Though Bollywood doesn’t shy away from using Christian iconography or featuring Christian characters, few films focus on Christian holidays or themes. Indeed, while plenty of films have explored Hinduism and Islam, and their conflicts and complements, I think you might have to go back to 1977’s Amar Akbar Anthony for a look at how Christianity… Read More ›

Bollywood on Wheels (2016)

The energetic movements of bhangra and other styles that influence Bollywood is a joy to watch, but can be difficult to perform and inaccessible to many people. In recent years, several dance troupes have sprung up that feature dancers of varying abilities, including wheelchairs. I was delighted, then, to find this performance from Ability Unlimited…. Read More ›

“Tu Mungla Mungla Main Good Ki Dali” (Inkaar, 1978)

“Tu Mungla” is my ideal item number. The classic tropes: a lone woman in a bar full of men, dancing in a skimpy outfit to a catchy tune, and trying to entice the movie’s hero; and the lone woman is Helen. The next level: She carries a sickle through most of the song, threatens men… Read More ›

“Chamma Chamma” (China Gate, 1998)

I love Baz Luhrmann movies, and I was 18 when Moulin Rouge! came out, so it hit me perfectly square between the eyes. The final set-piece is set to “Chamma Chamma.” I was pretty disappointed the first time I heard the real version. I’m still kind of disappointed in it. The song moves slowly, with… Read More ›

“Babuji Dheere Chalna” (Aar Paar, 1954)

When I looked up “item numbers” on Wikipedia, the page included a list of songs; “Babuji Dheere Chalna” was the oldest on the list. The sequence includes many elements we associate with item numbers: a nightclub, a stern hero watching from the audience, a beautiful dancing woman. Considering how subversive item numbers can be, it’s… Read More ›

“Tooh” (Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, 2013)

Despite opening with Imran Khan and Kareena Kapoor in beautiful wedding clothes, the lyrics start over playing over wiggling asses. But then a man is revealed to be the singer! Hilarious! He walks down the dance floor, women on either side, putting to their hips. Some older women start dancing, but don’t worry, Kapoor quickly… Read More ›

“Laila Main Laila” (Raees, 2017)

What do item numbers do best? Push boundaries. Combine styles. The music is an updated version of “Laila O Laila” from 1980’s Qurbani. The music is a bit faster, more electronic and processed (the original is more disco-influenced). The editing is full of fast cuts. Shahrukh Khan stalks through the scene in sunglasses, watching the… Read More ›

“Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu” (Howrah Bridge, 1958)

It takes at least a week to get this song out of your head. A week if you are lucky. And then you start mindlessly humming, and suddenly the song is back. “Mere Naam Chin Chin Chu” is a famous song, one of the oldest, most recognizable item numbers. It was a star turn for… Read More ›

“Chammak Challo” (Ra.One, 2011)

“Chammak Challo” is an infectious, joyful earworm with a video featuring two attractive stars dancing and being charming. While not an item song in the traditional sense, it topped a number of charts around the world and was an important part of the marketing for Ra.One. The lyrics are simple and set to a beat… Read More ›

Follow Feminist Bollywood on