Munni Badnaam Hui, Darling Tere Liye (Munni's come into disrepute, Darling because of you)
The ‘Munni’ ‘item number’ is the rage all over India, going by what the newspapers say. I haven’t seen the movie but having viewed the song on youtube, it has captivated me.
As far as I am concerned, it’s a mini-classic. Yes, there are lots of rough bits that prevent it from being an out and out classic.
But first the positives. This item number has made full use of the screen. Every fresh viewing of the song and you see things that you missed before. The experience is a riot of colours, rustic touches and so many characters in the song are a significant screen presence in their own right. The colour combinations of the screen constituents are good and the outfit colours too do not seem discordant. Malaika for once doesn’t show rough edges in her dancing. But the editor of the song too is to be given much credit for the finished product. I am not a great fan of Malaika’s dancing. And I will elaborate that when talking of the below video of ‘Chaiya Chaiya’. But I thought Malaika was quite bearable, even likeable.
The choreography by Farah Khan is largely great. ‘Munni’ Malaika does credit to her producer-husband’s confidence in her and acquits herself. Her dancing and being in tune with the lyrics is largely great though her face isn’t always in sync with the rest of the body. But to me, even more than Munni, the highlight is Salman and his zany dancing. He hogs the few frames that he appears in. As the swaggering rough inspector, his dance steps are in perfect alignment to his personality. Unlike the polished, suave, urban and urbane dance that would be seen in any NRI-Bollywood movie, Salman’s steps are more of the street, more spontaneous and therefore more likely to strike a chord with the masses. One couldn’t really imagine a Shahrukh or Aamir or Amitabh or Saif doing these steps and living the character. And to this the credit goes to Salman and possibly Arbaaz and Sohail. The brothers sense of humour as evidenced in other movies is zany, loony and mostly enjoyable. And that comes out well in Salman’s dance. He is enjoying himself and that sense is infectious.
But one should not forget all the extras when we talk of choreography. The set of male dancers who accompany Munni are good. Particularly one guy with a shortened version of a Sikh headgear who is full of energy and excellent in emoting and dancing and obviously enjoying himself. He is the one in the background during Munni’s cycle-rickshaw scene. Then there are a couple of female dancers who do their job very competently. They are the ones with the heaving breasts right after the ‘re main taksaal hui darling tere liye’ step. Also seen later in black dresses, palpable energy there. Then there are those pot-bellied policemen dancing to Salman’s cue. Wonderful, wonderful………
In hindsight, had a few rough edges been attended-to with more care, this song would have been at a totally different level. The lyrics alternate between zany and loony to amateurish and unimaginative. The female voice is competent but…. and that ‘but’ remains. Rekha Bhardwaj could perhaps have done more justice to the song. The male voice is even more jarring. Especially just after Salman’s entry when they move to a lower pitch (hoton pe gaali teri aankhen duraali). With two more experienced voices, this could’ve been a better audio experience.
The energy levels sag a bit a few times during the song and that jars.
Net Net though, this is a great example of a Hindi Bollywood masala item number
And to provide a contrast, here’s Malaika from ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ which shot her to more fame
She’s a bit stiff in emoting, dances mechanically and consciously and her whole presence is incongruous with the lyrics, though that is really the fault of the director and choreographer.
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