Every once in a while, my daughter and I have this evening ritual, we blast some music and dance around to our hearts content….It’s a great stress buster and also tremendous fun.
On one of our most recent such bouts of gay abandon my girl chose the music off the telly and as I willing bopped about merrily I quite enjoyed the opening bars of the music. Catchy tune with lyrics in Hindi. Apparently this number is doing pretty well these days. So I hummed along…at first I thought “aww nice child friendly song”…It began innocuously enough with (I translate loosely here)….I have studied ABCD a lot….then moved onto the chorus….now I wish to discuss with you some….dirty talks….lalalala……(gaandi baat)….dirty talks…lalala… WHOA!! What?? Really, this is acceptable? So essentially while the very pretty actress gyrates and jumps about in rhythmic brilliance she announces to the equally magnificent hero that really I have had enough of studying stuff such as ABCD (maybe I should cut them some slack since they obviously haven’t made it pass kindergarten) but am now ready to talk dirty?! Wellllll!
Immediately, being the responsible adult that I am I called time out mid bop and demanded that the channel be switched. My daughter whined and did as she was told (bless her). The next Hindi music channel took us directly into a group dance sequence wherein the lead dancer a relatively well known actress in Indian cinema for that matter was wearing a lot of imagination and very little else. She however to give her credit was pretty vocal about cautioning off all possible suitors with a warning in clear English no less “don’t touch mai bawdy” she sang then the remaining lyrics continued in Hindi ….Well that’s much better I thought. However I did feel for the poor sods around her since as she sang these words dressed in an itsy bit costume the indoor rain (intense precipitation from the indoor plants perhaps?) and her nimble dance moves were doing very little to help her case along.
Once again I pulled rank and ‘suggested’ that maybe we should skip dancing (note to self…bring the music next time) and watch one of my favs Ellen for example instead. Providence would have it that this particular day and time of the show that I tuned into had Kanye West wax eloquent on himself (no surprises there) and then premier his new video Bound 2 on the show.
GOBSMACKED! Is really the only word I can come up with. My girl was thrilled to be left watching a clearly unsuitable segment…I hadn’t the strength to shoo her out of the room or change the channel. Some strange inner vicious part of my psyche required me to see it through. I am no musician but I failed to even hear the lyrics or the tune of this song. The sight of Kim Kardashian lounge topless atop a bike and then stimulate her hubby/ partner / whatever while on his journey to where ever was intriguing to say the least. Would they get there? Is that a safe way to drive? What if they experience bad weather, surely she would get chilly? That bike was going nowhere but was clearly on a very bumpy road.
At risk of sounding like my Granddad, trust me many a grandkid eyeball has been rolled when he began with his “In my days…” stories, anyway at the risk of sounding like him on this one occasion only can I please query….where has the poetry gone??
Indian Cinema at one time depicted a kiss or an (ahem) union with thunder and heavy downpours or strangely resilient flowers that merely waved tempestuously in strong winds. That was about the extent of it. Don’t get me wrong I am no prude and I really do not mind explicit language or scenes in a movie as and when the script demands it (I mean a shirtless Brad Pitt…who cares about the plot then eh?). However Hindi songs were always a poetic way of expressing emotions, hopes, desires, happiness or sorrows etc. There would be layers of meaning in each sentence, different dialects used and play on words would be made for the listener to derive as much meaning or inspiration as possible from one song. The song and dance routine is and always has been an integral part of Indian cinema.
When did we begin to refer to dirty talking or use ridiculous metaphors such as “my gypsy with siren awaits you to fill her up with petrol” (I kid you not)? Strangely enough all the songs I referred to with the exception of Bound 2 I have actually quite enjoyed and shall admit have spent many an evening hopping from one foot to the other under the guise of dancing to these tunes.
Although I think (quite a taxing experience that was) that while this lack of lyrical sense may well be considered a more recently predominant rage in India cinema/ music for our big brothers from across the oceans this is nothing new. The thought-provoking yet annoyingly addictive song where Black Eyed Peas made genius use of the words hump and lump rhyming them and creating a chart buster or even one of the newer generation Selena where she got entire paragraphs to rhyme cleverly using words such as attention, intervention, inspection and impression (see the vocal alliteration??) were simply ingenious.
Chris Rock in one of his standup acts spoke once about how some women he knew were complete bra burning feminists one minute wouldn’t stand for any nonsense from any man and the next they are at a club dancing around to a song that refers to women as hoes or narrates verse and chapter about a desirable booty. “That ain’t me he’s talking about!”.
In comparison to all of this I must admit that I quite like certain white rappers….at least they are unapologetic and do nothing to mask their aggressive tones and lyrics. Listening to a few such uncensored songs is equivalent in my books to two rounds of kick boxing. Immense relief from all sorts of stress, just turn up the volume and repeat all the words!
So my friends, on that note I shall sign off for now to check for the monsters beneath my bed (they are friendly fear not) and listen to the voices inside of my head. You think I’m crazy?