item sangeet

August 22, 2007

When it is okay to say that one likes road-side mobile eatery type Sairam Pani Puri center’s pani-puri/bhel-puri and that seems to get people nostalgic (rather than repulsive at the thought of uncleanliness, as mom warns us), then why doesn’t the same hold true with people’s music taste?

It is okay (and actually gets more interest/response from the listener) when you say that you thoroughly enjoyed bandi-side (hawker-made) Chilli bajji compared to the swanky Subway’s masala burger. So, sub-par (as society seems to perceive it, not me) taste in food is acceptable by many, but I would love to extend that to music as well.

Hardly a few share my eccentric taste in music, and in that collection, I tend to like item numbers a lot for their sheer energy, other than their visual richness(!). Item numbers from any language have a universal appeal, a unique rawness. I do not have to know what Yana Gupta is conveying when she vaguely asks Babuji to walk slowly, or what Shilpa Shetty means when she says that she wants to loot UP and Bihar (if anything is still left after Lalooji and Mayawati behen), but everybody seems to be ecstatic about something, and it feels great when I share that feeling by just listening to it.

When I tell somebody that I am not much into oldies-goldies (or as I fondly call, the gramophone era, a friend of mine has a few songs dating back to pre-independence days), but have an ear for Carnatic and fusion music (jugalbandhi type), with immense interest in Industrial, Celtic and Techno, people are shocked as if I am a Martian (which I am).

Old songs, especially cry-till-napkins-are-over type “dard bharey” songs with lyrics that have gehrayee (depth) sung by Mukesh might be liked by the majority, but why isn’t ‘I am not into old songs’ taken as okay or normal but treated as a disease?

If there are people who listen to rap and blues (again alien to people of my kind), then why not item songs? Some salient features of item songs (a.k.a. mass songs):

* Energy, energy and energy. They have fizz, catch people’s attention (trailers MUST have them), rev up the mood.
* 2 words: Hot females.
* If you observe carefully, item songs have better involvement from the technical department (camera work, shot angles, creative use of locations, etc.) compared to the trite Swiss Alps and Tulip gardens.
* Beware: Interesting twist ahead! Item songs involve a nice twist to the storyline, whereas a love/mushy/sad song adds nothing more to the existing mood (that was already conveyed by the dialogs). Added bonus when the twist happens *during* the item song.
* Front bench crowd, who “market” the movie (with their ruckus) feed on item songs. More the item songs, better the word-of-mouth publicity.
* Item songs have an intelligent way of conveying a subtle message, which can sometimes be surprisingly romantic.
* Dance floors, pubs and parties would have been non-existant w/o item numbers. Hence, it supports businesses.
* Closer to reality: “bachkey tu rehna re bachke tu rehna” from Company makes more sense than aasman se chaand sitarey thod le aaoonga.

Hence, before you generalise and detest people who love mass numbers, please spend a few minutes and be a little considerate towards us as we are sensitive people who love songs like “goli maar bhejey mein, tho bheja shor karta hai” (Satya). Hope you get the subtle warning.

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16 Responses to “item sangeet”

  1. rads Says:

    omg, that was a fantastic pitch for liking mass songs! ..and I agree.
    Now, apart from bullet 2 for me as I would rather gape at a mahesh babu than a yana gupta – I agree am with you for the rest.

    The energy, zeal and fun is what works for me.

    That doesnt mean I dont care for mellow slow numbers, I do. Just that there’s a time for everything. I am feeling romantic, I’d rather listen to Mukesh or even ‘bommanu geeste’ from Bommarillu – than say ‘jhoom barabar jhoom’ or ‘kakinada kaza’ . They are good songs but maybe when I feel like dancing to the tunes – with friends.

    so u dont care absolutely for bhaari or slow numbers? :O

  2. Pavan Says:

    True, every mood and occasion has a song for itself and one would not feel like listening to a fast number when contemplating on something important (or other situations). What I was targeting was the notion some have when people like me tell about their liking for mass numbers. Mathematically, (Loving mass numbers ! = not liking slow songs) 🙂 Unlike Mukesh (as others prefer), Jagjit Singh is my pick.. I wanted to represent us, the underprivileged and get our voice heard 😉

  3. Vasuki Says:

    Fantastic post! Really loved your comparison of mushy and item songs. 🙂

  4. mouna Says:

    seriously, if one wants to listen to songs which(i guess) should provide happiness to one why go for the sad ones. if i’m in a lousy mood, i’ll fall into a deeper trap when i listen into such songs.

    aha! item numbers, they have that charm in them. your ‘qualities’ of an item number is superb! 😀


  5. So, where does a guy who likes Linkin Park, System of the Down, U2, Savage Garden, Asha Bhosle, Md. Rafi, SPB, S Janaki, Chitra, Jesudas, Bhimsen Joshi, Balamurali Krishna, MSS, Chaurasia, Kalinga Rao – equally well, fit in?

    Yes, I am always amazed when people ask me to listen to “good music”…really?!?!?!

    Item numbers are certainly adorable. But, personally I am very picky when it comes to music…it should suit the time and mood perfectly 😉

  6. shark Says:

    even i like item songs…! and also oldie-goldies, which ever my mood prefers. so finally i guess it;s just individual choice.

    who cares what others think about your choice of music.. finally you have to listen to it. In the age of IPODs and Mp3 players.. your choice doesn;t even disturb others…

    so enjoy your masala songs.. 🙂

  7. sushil nair Says:

    Hi Pawan,

    Chanced to see your article today. After reading it I felt so sorry that India, which has given a lot to the whole world musically and culturally, had such silly youngsters who do not have an iota of musical sense. If all you needed was to watch Yana Gupta and the other (item girls) swing their hips you don’t need music or a song. You can very well enjoy their ‘assets’ just like that. Here we are talking of sensible songs sung by greats like Kishore kumar, Mukesh and Rafi. I too belong to the present genration, but I am ashamed to say that today’s guys lack music sense and that’s why you have donkeys (like himesh) braying all over the channels. So keep the ‘musical flag’ braying.
    A word of advice — When listening to old melodies (especially 70s) look out for the way the singers like kishore gave meaning to each song and the right feel.

  8. Pavan Says:

    [Vasuki] thanks!

    [mouna] I totally agree with you, and thanks 🙂

    [anishadutt] shukriya! 🙂

    [December Stud] Dude, you hit the nail with this sentence “Yes, I am always amazed when people ask me to listen to “good music”…really?!?!?!”. For instance, Sushil Nair.

    [shark] glad to see you too like item songs, and I agree, it is totally individial based, and its liking should not be detested, and as you said, thanks to gadgets, others need not know my “choices” 🙂

    [sushil nair] Hi Sushil, It would have been great if you had got my name correct. It hardly takes any effort even for a single-digit IQ-ed person to see that the URL has “Pavan” for a reason. Chalo, maaf kiya.

    that India, which has given a lot to the whole world musically and culturally, had such silly youngsters who do not have an iota of musical sense.

    what has India’s vast contribution have to do anything with my choices/preferences? We have teen-maar songs, and folk songs can sometimes get very nasty. Nothing wrong is liking mass songs. And who are you to decide about my lack of musical inclination? I play tabla and synthesiser, and have had classical training. We could form a band, if you wish (ya right!).

    If all you needed was to watch Yana Gupta and the other (item girls) swing their hips you don’t need music or a song. You can very well enjoy their ‘assets’ just like that.

    true, but it is like watching cricket without any commentary! here, mass songs and Yana Gupta complement each other and are very integral part of this wave.

    Here we are talking of sensible songs sung by greats like Kishore kumar, Mukesh and Rafi. I too belong to the present genration, but I am ashamed to say that today’s guys lack music sense and that’s why you have donkeys (like himesh) braying all over the channels. So keep the ‘musical flag’ braying.

    this is not a maniacal religious conversion. If one person doesnt appreciate old songs, and hates old dragging sad songs, then it is my choice. It neednt hold true universally, and this has nothing to do with generation.

    My whole post was about people like you who attack others’ choice. As DS pointed, good taste in music neednt imply that it has to have Mukesh et. al. Thats the whole point I was making.

    A word of advice — When listening to old melodies (especially 70s) look out for the way the singers like kishore gave meaning to each song and the right feel.

    Just because Mukesh or Kishore Da made 100% sincere efforts doesnt mean I HAVE to like it. My choices are made by my liking, mood and other factors, not how dedicated the other party was, inspite it not matching with my frequency.

    Grow up, be open to the existence of other choices. You belong to this generation, yet have 70s/80s attitude.. maybe it is because of those old songs.. try listening to Himesh for a change 😛

  9. krupa Says:

    hey!very interesting read…

    But I’d like to point out one thing. Old songs dont just mean..Mukesh hitting the exact write notes to goad you from depression to suicide; “mehebooba..oh mehebooba” is the baap of all item songs. Or take for example..”piya tu ab toh aaja”..or “jhumka gira re” or sharmila tagore’s racy number in An Evening in Paris!
    These songs are from the 70s…and they had the ladies displaying their talent too you know 😉

    But if your grouse is just against love/mushy/sad songs irrespective of the time they were made in…then you do have a point!

    Extending this theory…we can never judge anyone..as you can have bad taste in movies..clothes…men/women…life choices. Ofcourse we have a right to have crappy taste..but people also have a right to judge your taste!

    Tough luck!

  10. krupa Says:

    In the first paragraph..its “right notes” and not “write notes”.My mistake.I apologize to all the spelling nazis.

  11. Maverick Says:

    ” why isn’t ‘I am not into old songs’ taken as okay or normal but treated as a disease?” really ? i used to say it all the time and so did i think all the teenagers said.

    i totally agree, n watz so wrong wit the remixes? when i said a friend tht i love remixes, he said they were mere crap, making khoon of the originals

  12. Srikanth Says:

    That was a pretty good analysis…

  13. Cinamon Says:

    I agree. But unfortunately i am worse than what you are. You atleast can lable your liking, i cant even do that. I just like songs and then it does not matter which era, what language or genere it is.

    I knew i am a lil silly :D.

  14. some body Says:

    more than a decade ago, the cassette i would switch on immediately upon waking up on the weekends had the following sequence:

    – suprabhatam (male)
    – suprabhatam (m.s.)
    – shankaraa (s.p.b. – ‘shankarabharanam)
    – krishna nee begane baaro (yesudas)
    kadalinakare
    chaagaraa
    dolkara
    ne majasee ne paratmore information
    – we didn’t start the fire (billy joel)
    – smooth criminal (michael jackson – thriller)
    – sound of music

    by the time billy joel started, i was more than wide awake!

    – s.b.

    p.s.: i still have this cassette. 🙂

  15. anishadutt Says:

    so where r u lost dese days?


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