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30 March, 2005

Thought piece – Are “Item Numbers” over-stepping the limit?

Saw Sanjay Dutt’s and Koena Mitra’s act in the song “O, Saki, Saki” from the film “Musafir.” I had seen excerpts of it earlier, but it’s the first time I am seeing it in its entirety. The song is a rage with the youth, my own son being a cult follower of the latest trends. He has downloaded a ring tone on my mobile phone and plays it often.

It irritates me to hear the tune every time I receive a call. The irritation became even more pronounced after today’s viewing of the entire song. Here was I doing my daily morning exercise and my eyes nearly popped out on seeing the visuals. Shocking, would be an understatement, in my opinion.

There are no appropriate words to express my outrage and indignation at this song. It pushes the limits and then proceeds to cross them. No, not the fine boundary, but the extreme limiting line between gratuitous violence, murder and mayhem. And it is sure to spoil the impressionable youth, like my son, who will be persuaded to believe that violence, sex and indecency is okay. Moreover, it sets out to glorify deadly and insidious habits that can be harmful for health as proved by science and medicine.

First the thrusting, and hip wiggling Koena Mitra is constantly shown gyrating, her panties on view, tantalizingly. “Item number” the purveyors of such stuff would say. But how would she like being called an “Item number” on her face. She is naked except for some shiny underwear stuff that adds to her allure. Okay, a little eroticism is needed to sell a movie, but this is outright sexual provocation, nothing else.

Then Sanjay Dutt brandishes his knife. Then the dancers come out with weapons like scythes, swords, machetes, and make motions like killing each other and the sexy Koena. Suddenly, there are enough weapons on the screen to fight an entire medieval war.

Come on; is this okay to show the deprived millions who watch these acts of suggested violence? I mean, the film is already full of such stuff, showing enough gore, but do you want to show violence in a song too? They say it is harmless, I don’t think it is harmless when it would even incite one person to think about violent acts.

“Oh sharabi, kya sharabi, jo nasheme na rahe.”
“What is a drunk if he isn’t intoxicated?”

Now, don’t tell me these lyrics aren’t provocative. It is, in the extreme. It gives the impression that to drink is to be in a state of bliss. True Indian poets have poeticized intoxication in their works, but this is pushing the limits further. Dutt is shown in a state of drunkenness. And he passes the blade of his knife around Mitra’s throat several times. If it isn’t provocative and violent what is?

Drunkenness, lewdness, lechery, provocation to sex is what we see when we switch on the television. Is this needed? Isn’t it incitement? When such questions are asked the songwriters, directors hide behind the curtain of artistic freedom. Is this art? Not by any stretch of the imagination, I think.

Would somebody do something about this? I don’t know what the public think. But the makers of such “Item numbers” would even claim that it is artistic and that what is elevating. Being hypocritical comes naturally to the Bollywood denizens.

Over to you Caferati, what do you think?


Anonymous A nanni mouse said...

You sit sweaty-palmed through this "drunkenness, lewdness, lechery, provocation" and then criticise it. And you call Bollywood hypocritical?

And if you think all this is so bad, what the heck are you doing letting your son watch it? And, by the way, why is your son playing with your phone?

31 March, 2005 01:09  
Blogger zigzackly said...

Oy, John, you think you want this ringtone instead?

31 March, 2005 03:30  
Anonymous neha said...

Hhmm. Well, I have my own set of issues with item numbers, but nothing particularly against this number.

Almost all item numbers tend to draw a link between violence and sex. There are some more light hearted ones, but most of them tend to centre around the idea of a *zipless fuck* (remember Erica Jong anyone?). And there are cutes ones too. :)

If you sit in the Volvo bus service between Bombay and Poona, you'll find yourself bombarded with the worst of item numbers and videos. What really enrages me about some of them is the glorification of a *School girl* as an ideal object for sexual gratification. And the other, making the workplace sound like a hunting field to find sexy women.

Or something like that.

31 March, 2005 11:05  
Blogger erratica said...

item numbers of today are an insult to ur sensibilities as a viewer and there isnt much that u can do abt it. they are no longer plain eye candy, its more of glossy porn, reminds u of the term coined by a french photographer, 'porno-chic'

02 April, 2005 10:59  
Blogger bikkuri-bako said...

the song was directed by a woman (dir:shirobi).
some earlier videos(dir: radhika): the one with the girl showing her g-string and one about 3 girls in their underwears dressed as angels.

02 April, 2005 14:34  
Anonymous Pelvis Wrestley said...

All of this now makes me wanna see the video.

Lighten up John. Allowing for the notion that immaculate conception is somewhat rare I'd guess that you and I and the rest of Caferati exist on this planet because of some pretty intense "pelvic thrusts" as you put it, by a long line of each of our ancestors.

Don't knock it. Your son's just chillin' on what his Daddy did.

06 April, 2005 02:18  
Anonymous mr 55 said...

yeah yeah yeah, a little skin show and out come the 'rakhwalas' of India's collective sensibilities!!

bottomline - 'item numbers' are soft porn... and no, soft porn is not bad, not debasing our culture, and certainly not immoral.

i'll agree if you say kids should not watch porn. then the blame falls on censorship and the way media is completely unregulated in india. there's your culprit. so you need to express your dissatisfaction at the lack of control on the content your kids receive from the internet, from cable tv and from other media.

the item numbers (in most cases) help to sell movies. as for the saqi saqi number - it was awesome! and the line 'woh sharabi kya sharabi jo nashe mein na rahe' is a metaphor. the whole darn song is a metaphor. he's drunk on his love for the woman, not on alcohol! 'tere deewane ki halat, bin tere bhi theek hai'!!

i know i know, who is going to explain that to some 13 year old kid? im already conceding that point. its porn - unsuitable for kids. viewership should be regulated.

but item numbers as a genre should NOT be banned/ prohibited/ discouraged.

22 April, 2005 08:45  

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