Item numbers in Bollywood had become the much-needed spice to add in every movie and why not, they would become an instant hit among people and add to the commercial aspect of the film. As a result of which we saw songs like Kaddu Katega, Sarkai Lo Khatiya Jada Lage, Fevicol Se, Chikni Chameli, Munni Badnaam Hui becoming chartbusters and people could be seen dancing to it at every party. Not only that, lines from these songs were often used to eve-tease women.
Thankfully, gone are the days when actors would blindly pick up a song and dance to the words that blatantly objectify women without batting an eyelid. These days more and more actors are becoming aware of the negative impact that these item songs have on society. They are demanding the lyrics to be clean and are asking for their songs to be shot aesthetically.
Kriti Sanon’s recent movie Luka Chuppi features an item song titled Coca Cola, which was in news for putting women down. Responding to which, Kriti reveals that the song is a fun banter between the guy and the girl and the team ensured to shoot it like that. “It is not shot in a way that objectifies women and people conveniently ignored that the boy is also being objectified. The girl calls him ‘coca-cola’ towards the end and she is also objectifying him. And, that was a conscious decision.”
She further adds, “It’s done both ways deliberately and those are the things that I do take care of... I am not trying to give a wrong message. We were very conscious that it’s not just about the girl.”
While Kriti Sanon is trying to draw a balance, actress Kareena Kapoor Khan, who has made the world dance to some of her item numbers, has made it loud and clear that the trend of item songs should die now.
On her chat show, Kareena said, “Even in my song Fevicol, a girl was compared to tandoori murgi. Honestly, when I did that number or even Halkat Jawani for that matter, I saw these songs only as fun. I really hadn’t thought about it from a responsible point of view. Now, I feel, it’s high time that the trend of item number dies down. In Bollywood, writers should stop writing them and directors should stop requesting them. It’s not funny anymore.”
Applauding the actors who are becoming more conscious of the songs they are performing upon, actress Taapsee Pannu calls it a brave step towards a huge change that was waiting to happen.
“I have not done any item songs and I am glad people don’t approach me just for songs. Even though I haven’t thought much about it because I was never approached, I feel times have changed and people are more cautious about the item songs. It’s a brave step by everyone and it’s a huge change (waiting) to happen,” says Taapsee.
While it may appear that the director willingly wants to add an item song, at times, it is the pressure to see the commercial aspect of the film that leads to such choices. But, some are finding ways to dodge this pressure.
Filmmaker Ashim Ahluwalia, who directed a biopic on gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli titled Daddy with Arjun Rampal had to fight immense pressure to ensure that he doesn’t add any item song just to grab the eyeballs.
Ashim says, “When I was making Daddy with Arjun, they wanted certain item numbers that are there in typical commercial Bollywood movies but I told Arjun that I will not do it. I told him that he will have to co-produce the film and that’s the only way to protect the movie. Studios will have their own demands.”
Veteran actress Juhi Chawla who has witnessed the industry closely for many years now says she hates the word ‘item song’.
Juhi says, “One thing, which I don’t like these days, is how can we call our girls item girls. Why would you call your artist an item girl? It’s so cheap. I don’t enjoy watching it. Look at a film like Dangal. It’s such a clean film. I hope it sends out a message to people that you need to make a damn good film and not just plug in an item number.”...