It is safe to say that songs with lewd lyrics and Bollywood go hand in hand. The song from Kapoor & Sons — Ladki Beautiful Kargayi Chull — is still a favourite. People of all age groups dance to the number where chull actually means “sexual awakening”.
Then you have lyrics from Mastizaade, where each song is dipped in sexual innuendos. However, this idea of lewd lyrics is not old. Remember the time everyone grooved to Govinda’s, Sarkay Liyo Khatiya and did not bat an eyelid at the line — Suyi chubhe koyi shola sa bhadake? That’s just one of the many lewd lyrics that the industry has been churning out by the dozen.
But, throwing light, finally, on how Bollywood needs to get rid of lewd songs, is director and actor Farhan Akhtar. As part of the Love Matters’ campaign, #NotMusicToMyEars. Farhan tweeted, “Songs that use lewd lyrics are #NotMusicToMyEars and I commit to making sure they’re not part of the movies I make.”
Farhan joins the list of people who raised their voices against this, including his father Javed Akhtar, who largely blamed the audience for encouraging such songs.
While Swara Bhaskar’s recent movie Anaarkali of Aarah, dealt with a bold subject, the songs were filled with erotic lyrics. Director Avinash Das says, “When we take our stories to producers, we are often told to add and remove somethings, because that’s what sells better in the market and producers only want to sell their movie. Though it is a noble move on Farhan’s part, one should consider that he is able to take such decisions because more often than not he is his own producer.”
However, Avinash adds that filmmakers shouldn’t have an issue using lewd lyrics if the “story demands it”. “Take Anaarkali... for instance, the protagonist is an erotic singer and so the songs are filled with sexual innuendos, cheap slurs and double meanings, but that was what the character demanded,” he justifies.
For every song that suits the storyline, there are several other “special numbers” with lewd lyrics that are simply added to create a buzz. Jalees Sherwani, who has written lyrics for the Dabanng franchise among others, says that most producers concentrate on that one hit song.
“These days, no producer tells the lyricist about the storyline. Songs rarely have anything to do with the actual storyline of the film — the soundtrack and the storyline are worked on separately.”
Dr Nandita Shah, who started the Gaana Rewrite campaign to tackle sexism in Bollywood lyrics, says, “B’wood is finally waking up to the fact that lyrics do play a pertinent element in perpetuating sexism. Farhan coming up and speaking against this is a step in the right direction. A lot of filmmakers argue that they aren’t perpetrating harassment, but only giving a character more nuances. But I feel that if one is to take the implications into consideration, we are better off without it.”
— With inputs by Pooja Salvi...