Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Oddballs Strike Back

Okay, I made a couple of mistakes when I listed my favourite oddball musical compositions from Hindi films... The Lamhe and the Love Story song shouldn't have been there.
Oddball - as defined by me - is a quirky, obscure composition with at least one of its lyrics, tune and singer being totally unusual. The two aforementioned songs fall in the great-but-obscure categories but they are neither quirky nor non-traditional. So, cut them out... till the post about great-but-obscure songs. 

And of course, I forgot to list so many of my other favourite Oddballs! To clarify the definition and complete the listings, here is the Second Coming of the Oddballs. 
Statutory Warning: These are MY Oddballs. Difference of opinion guaranteed! 

Ek chatur naar (Padosan)
HOW could I have forgotten the two Oddest Balls of Hindi screen - Mehmood and Kishore Kumar - played back by two Odd Bongs - Manna Dey and KK himself - raise a racket as Saira Banu hangs around in a conical bra? And Sunil Dutt looks really happy - not at all like the father of a son whose best friend is going to be Amar Singh! 
A harmonium, a mridangam, a lasso, a bolster... all happily contribute to a mayhem like any other! 

Gapuchi gapuchi gum gum (Trishul)
There is an accepted theory in Bollywood that in 1970s, Yash Chopra was the New School while moneybag producers like Gulshan Rai were Old School. The latter could not imagine films without songs while the former felt songs could be done away with IF the story demands it. Yash Chopra made some landmark films with Trimurti Films (Gulshan Rai's banner) - like Deewaar and Trishul, which defined the phenomenon we know as Amitabh Bachchan. None of these films needed songs but Gulshan-saab insisted a few 'relief points' to break the grimness of the films. 
And as a result, you have three songs in Deewaar. And four in Trishul - including this wonderfully crazy number, starring Poonam Dhillon and Sachin.  
And the prelude helpfully translates the inane lyrics! 

Masterji ki aa gayi chitthi (Kitaab)
A school-song with crazy lyrics, almost no music (except thumping benches), high-pitched 'kiddie' voices and a chorus line like 'VIP Underwear Baniyan' can only be created by RD Burman and Gulzar. 
In an otherwise not-so-great film, this was a rocking number as was the other oddball from the same film - Dhanno ki aankh mein - which was blessed with a gadget which distorted the sound of a guitar and only RD could have used it. 

Ding dong O Baby, Sing a Song (Hero)
Hero was the archetypal Subhash Ghai movie - great music, a lovely instrumental theme, roller-coaster story and super-octane dialogues. 
It also had this song, which exhorted the heroine to sing a song in a rather unusual rhyme! Otherwise a traditional filmi number, the eponymous chorus elevates the song to complete quirk-dom! And in the middle, it has a false-bearded Sanjeev Kumar (looking like Shammi Kapoor) going Ding Dong in a pseudo-baritone... mind-blowing! 
Hero Trivia: The four sidekicks of the hero had names whose initials were Sa, Re, Ga and Ma. 

Aslam Bhai (Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega)
Johnny Lever plays a bhai, wanting to make it big in movies. So, you have Aftab Shivdasani and Snehal Davi (as Aaj Kapoor!) chadaoing him on a channe ka jhaad. A brilliant song, preceded by an equally brilliant intro dialogue, explains how Aslam Bhai has everything required to reach the top of the Bollywood greasy pole. 
Na tu nanga, na tu hakla, na tu ganja... Aslam Bhai!
Haath mein bas paanch ungli, hero ban jaa Aslam Bhai!

Jaane kya hoga Rama re (Kaante)
Reservoir Dogs never had anything like Malaika Arora or a song like this one! Malaika (I like 'er) danced to Mahi Ve while the 'cool dudes' walked around New York singing cigarette ke dhuen ka chhalla banake... 
And Reservoir Dogs did not have this riddle either.
Q: Agar tere sar pe bomb rakh diya, to pehle kiya phatega - bomb ya tera sar? 
A: Sab se pehle toh teri phategi! 

Hum ko aajkal hai intezaar (Sailaab)
Why is this song an oddball? 
This is one of the seminal Madhuri Dixit songs (composed by Bappi Lahiri), performed by her with the energy and passion that still makes Bollywood miss her. But why the oddball tag? 
Simple. Listen to the song (prefereably audio) so that you are not distracted by Madhuri in that stunning yellow costume. You'll realise that the construction of the song is reverse of the traditional way - the lead vocalist sings the same line repeatedly while the chorus sings the different stanzas of the song. 

So, that's my second list of Oddballs. Let me think... what did I miss this time? 
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