Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Jo Jeeta Wohi Superstar: Sur and Sex Part II

Remember that hilarious moment on SRGMP when a girl called Koel had the jurrat to sing "I wanna make love to you" from Aitraaz in front of Asha Bhonsle? While it was a little frustrating to watch the resulting morality crusade that ensued, you have to admit - it was a lot of fun to watch, especially when Himesh Reshammiya rather inexplicably jumped in and defended the song.

Who knew that song was so universally reviled in India among industry types? Because on the mildly engaging show Jo Jeeta Wohi Superstar (Star Plus), Himani - possessor of a smoky voice which I dig a lot - chose to sing it again. She even tendered an advance apology before she began. And while Himani's voice tends to lose some of her wonderful tonal quality on the high notes, the rest of the song turned out quite well.

And what happened? First co-contestant Ishmeet - underwhelming winner of Voice of India - took a swing at Himani with a mention about how the show was for kids as well as adults. Then before praising Himani, Shekhar - one of the judges on the show along with Farah Khan and Vishal Dadlani - called the song very very vahiyaat. By this time I was expecting the woman to be the harshest here and sure enough Farah Khan bluntly told Himani that if she had sung this in a voting round she would have been eliminated for her choice.

The same episode also saw someone else singing Dum Maro Dum which is a song about lighting up a joint, ignoring your troubles, finding God as a result and (if you've seen the movie) getting laid. But not a whimper about that from anyone. I'm not complaining about dual standards here: we all live with duality and spend most of our lives compromising with it. Why I've turned in thick rolls of dollar bills I've found at Starbucks' but throw a penny in my path and watch it disappear in my pocket.

But sweet mother of God! What is it about this song that pisses people off so much? (There is also a male version - which would have provided a fascinating data point were it have been chosen in competition - but we'll ignore that for now)

I decided to have another listen. I want to make love is composed by Himesh, sung by Sunidhi Chauhan and plays to one continuous shot with Akshay Kumar and Priyanka Chopra alternately making out and doing kushti.

I'm not sure exactly what makes the song such a powder keg: woman being horny? woman wanting sex? woman inviting man? woman actively seeking an extra-marital affair? woman not expressing regret at any of the previous?

Hmmm. Where is Javed Akhtar when you really need him?



Anonymous said...

In Indian Idol Season 2, in 'Piano' round, one girl sang the same song and she got voted out. Sonu/Farah/Anu all complained that song choice was poor.

For me personally, I don't care about the lyrics of the song but the tune itself is below average and I don't know why anyone would wanna sing it.

Anonymous said...

It's the English lyrics.

Anonymous said...

Meaning that the lyrics are in English. Basically I've heard (well read since I don't understand Hindi) the same lines in Hindi/Urdu. Like lyrics that mean essentially the same thing.

BTW has anyone (other than Mauli) sung Namak Ishq from Omkara? Which brings to another point. Maybe people think Hindi/Urdu is much more subtle, while in English it just says it outright.

Though in the case of Namak Ishq, it may be that they just don't understand Bhojpuri dialect. I played that song out loud in my house all the time. I do remember one time when my dad kind of look at me. But overall, I don't think my parents understood the meaning. (Of if they did, they didn't say anything to me.)

I mean, I always knew it was a sensual song, just by her voice and her expressions and aspirations in the song. After I read a translation for it, I was like "Gulp, I played this out loud in my house in front of my parents."

Anonymous said...

I agree with jd. It's such a mediocre song, why would anyone want to sing it in a music comp? Also, singing it in a voting round is probably not a good idea. Hell, singing anything anyone could have issues with is not a good idea. But yeah, also agree with lin, it's the English lyrics.

I've sung Namak ishq ka amongst friends buncha times and most of the audience doesn't really 'get it'. Heck, when I told my hubby, he was like, namak refers to WHAT??? lol!

Also it's interesting to note that in dance competitions like Nach Baliye, they routinely have 'sensual rounds' where the likes of Archana Puran Singh writhe around on stage to the strains of 'Jaane do na' or some other such song and they do quite a good job and get praised. Except for Sai Deodhar whose 'Dhak Dhak karne laga' is practically seared in my brain for being so unbelievably yuck.

Anonymous said...

I think it is the English lyrics as well...and the reason Dum Maro Dum gets a pass is nostalgia! Anything from the 70s is good - no matter what the song really refers to!


Anonymous said...

I think it is the English lyrics as well...and the reason Dum Maro Dum gets a pass is nostalgia! Anything from the 70s is good - no matter what the song really refers to!


Unknown said...

It could be the English lyrics (hadn't thought of it). Or it could just be nascent guilt (man, am I a meanie today).

But I think Lin has a good point about Namak Ishq Ka and Hindi songs being more suggestive than open. Most people pass by Namak Ishq Ka without as much as a thought. In fact, didn't a little girl do a dance to that song on one of these crazy kiddie shows once?

Unknown said...

Bitterlemons, I love Dam Maro Dum actually. Wonderfully subversive.

Unknown said...

jd, haven't seen you here before so welcome! I would love to see that Piano round rendition. We would have three data points.

ppl said...

That namak song, I had no clue, but then again it makes perfect sense.

Lin you are dead on. If they must have english/hinglish phrases in bollywood songs why can't they be as cleverly worded as the hindi/urdu lines. Poetry works both ways.

That Aitraaz song is hilarious, Priyanka in that peptobismol colored suit channelling the sex-starved woman in power, with some kind of a car hoarding in the background, priceless!

Anonymous said...

Mind Rush analyzes.....
Dum Maro Dum could be interpreted in Freudian terms as also advocating sexual activity. (The cigarette represents the male organ. The religious expression in that same song could reference the Big O.)But it's ambigious and therefore survives the Bollywood moral police.

With the "I wanna make love.." song it's the English, combined with a woman speaking in first person, expressing her desires outright that the judges have tried to disown.

In Namak, there is again a play with metaphors so one can hide behind multiple meanings.

Anonymous said...

someone explain what the namak song is about? the innuendos anyway..

thanks in advance :D

Anonymous said...

other than mauli, this namak song has been sung by a kid in ustaadon ka ustaad and also on JJWS

Unknown said...

Mind Rush, thanks for the brilliant interpretation as always. I think you have all the pieces right.

meg, the namak ishq ka in the song refers to this. Now you can go back and listen to the song. After you've done that you should go back and listen to "Beedi" which will now begin to sound different to you.

J said...

Hi Aspi!

Hope all's well.

The explicitness is (almost) always a turnoff and not too intteresting. Maybe because it leaves nothing to imagination. Thats why softporn is considered more 'tasteful' (for the lack of a better word) than hardcore stuff.

Like Javed Akhtar wrote in one of his songs in Lakshya (picturised on Preity Zinta) "iss baat ko agar tum zara ghuma fira ke kehte to accha hota".

Unknown said...

I love that song Lakshya song actually - India's first mid-tempo Blues ballad.

Anonymous said...

aspi..i know what man juice is hehehe you are so funny, linking me to wikipedia

omg is that really what it means? jabaan pe laagaa namak ihsq ka

isn't jabaan like mouth?? so its about swallowing?

why namak though? isn't that salt? omfg so am i getting it the taste of it.. hahahahahaha gulzar is one dirty old man...

Anonymous said...

ummm actually I always thought the namak referred to salt as in sweaty stuff! And um, that scandalized me. Are u sure it doesn't refer to just that- good ole salt? The supposed man juice meaning is crazy talk!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jitendra, in that it the song is explicit and in your face. I would never play it out loud. Actually, it's been a long time since I've heard the song.

I don't like the song in itself, because I do think both the male and female singing that is just...tacky. Don't know why. I really have no problem with some of the exlicit lyrics in hip hop and rock. But just the way it's worded and sung, is not to my taste.

Pitu, it is sooo about semen. It's says salt of your love. If it were meant to be about sweat, it love wouldn't be used. Love is a very, very generous metaphor, imo. Plus it says she asked it for the whole night and then this:
twisting and turning (in my bed), I got thirsty
What makes me completely sure that it is about what I think it is.. it's from Omkara. Vishal B has talked about how explicit the language is supposed to be in the setting.

Anonymous said...

aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!! And I've sung it before!!! In front of friends! Whom I thought didn't get it! Arrgh! Wait till my hubby hears this new meaning :-p

Anonymous said...

OMG whenever i heard the song, i didn't really pay attention to the words but reading the translation sooo makes it sound rly sleazy

it is very sexist as well

"I have tasted the salt of your love"

i am sorry but there is no love in that.. gross

"I have asked my lover"
"for a taste of his love"


"Even the local tradesmen started showering me with gifts"

LOCAL TRADESMEN? cheap dime store hooker.. EW

"Why don't you spend some on me too? Feed me some honey with your fingers"

FINGERS? woman have some self respect and confidence.. let him return the favor..

"I asked for it the whole night..the salt of your love"

She seems desperate, LOL who does that?

"whatever that "prankster" would say to me..I'd be persuaded instantly, and be played like a flute"

she's total opposite to me, to me its all about ME

Anonymous said...

P.S. my last comment, I was talking about the two different songs.

"I wanna make love to you" in the first two paragraphs. That's the song I would play out loud or haven't listened to much after my initial hearing.

Namak Ishq, despite knowing the meaning, I still listen to it. I just don't play it out loud in the company of my parents or Indian elders.

Anonymous said...

That's the song I*would NOT* play out loud or haven't....

Anonymous said...

wow..eeeks..even i didnt know the meaning of the lyrics of the namak song..m sure most people in india also dont cos otherwise there would have been protests n they would have got the song banned!!

Unknown said...

And so it is that we've been programmed by Bollywood in ways we couldn't possibly have imagined :)

meg, I linked to the word instead of stating it because I didn't want the Drift to get hit by all kinds of weird searches. Otherwise I bow to your knowledge of courting and post-courting ventures.

Anonymous said...

ewwwwwwwwww...i too din't know what that namak ishq ka song meant.i heard it was bad but not this bad!!!

and if 'i wanna make love to you...'can't be accepted then even 'bheege honth tere' shouldn't be accepted!!even thats got similar lines,but in hindi!!
i felt so rebellious when i read this...why can't girls express??bad bad!!!

Unknown said...

How about that tremendously sleazy Honth Raseele song? That one ought to be banned - its way too annoying.

Anonymous said...

the lyrics of that omkara song are so bad, i can't believe they're allowed. where are the hindu fundamentalists when you need them?

uff i think i'm best off staying away from these new indian songs.

Anonymous said...

jo jeeta wohi 'sikander'???!!!
am i the only one reading it that way??

Anonymous said..., i see it too.
its showing up like that on the side.
did anyone else catch the mother's day special of jjws this sat??

Unknown said...

That sidebar typo is a mistake wrought by me - ignore it for now. But no you are not seeing things.

I did see the Mother's Day special and am working on a post that should make everybody hate me. I can't wait to put it up.

Anonymous said...

i saw the mothers day episode and i swear to goddess, i have never cringed so much my whole life

It was a great big sap fest, people crying all over the place like it was running out of business.

Shekhar has turned into one great big cliche spouting machine these days. I can't believe Vishal took part in the cry session.

I am sorry but you can talk about your mom without crying. Like what the hell? doesn't anyone have pleasant memories of their moms anymore?

Anonymous said...

Um I choked up today while talking with my mom on the phone... these sappy holidays have gotta stop!

Anonymous said...

Vishal B. had already warned about the language of the movie. This movie is based on local gundas and the dialogs and the songs of the movie reflect their lifestyle. Come on, Bips character was a nachne wali who danced in front of these men in an inebriated state. You can't expect her to break out into an Umrao Jaan number.

Not sure if songs should be censored for their words. There are lot of double meaning songs in the Indian film industry - 'Choli ke peeche kya hai' comes to mind.

I have never liked kids dancing to grown up songs anyway - a la John Benet Ramsey.

Anonymous said...

I dont like the creep of western sentiments in the Indian society. I never use to call my mom on mother's day before but now she expects it as it is shown everywhere on TV.

Same goes with valentine's day. I get mre v-day wishes now from male friends then when I was a teenager most of them coming from friends in India.

Anonymous said...

Joules, I agree. The companies like Archies and Hallmark have managed to make all these days big business. I never knew about all these days until some years ago. I sheepishly tried calling up my dad last year on Fathers Day, and instead of him getting emotional and all that , I got a 'Bah! What nonsense these companies have begun':). I was really glad to have my no-nonsense-relationship back with my dad:).My mother fortunately is blissfully unaware of these Western influences.She reads only vernacular news, and I dont think the West has crept into it as yet. Unfortunately I read the English newspaper, so I know when Mothers Day is, so when my kids wish me, I actually feel a little happy(embarrassed:()). Talk about double-standards! Sigh!