Thursday, November 12, 2009

Top 10 Foreign Locale Bollywood Songs

Rules governing selection of the songs :-
a) Some part of the song has to be shot on an undisputed Foreign Locale; i.e. outside the political boundary of India as defined by the Govt. of India.
b) One song per film
c) One song per country
d) One song per Hero-Heroine Pair
e) As far as possible, the song must be logically integrated into the story (by Bollywood standards and not by MIT-Harvard-Princeton-Stanford PhD dissertation committee standards). This implies all those dream sequences or other similar occasions for a sudden unexplained leap abroad are prohibited.
f) At least 6 of the 7 continents must be covered; i.e. Antarctica can be omitted. I have no doubt that in the future we will have the "pleasure" of listening to something like"Antarctica Mein Ek Raat, Penguino Ke Saath".

Readers are advised to add their own foreign locale song, and as a sweetener, they will NOT be subject to the aforementioned onerous rules b-f.

10) My Name is Ali; Film : Dhoom 2;
Place : Rio, Brazil, South America

I will admit this song is selected primarily to conform to rules b-f, especially to get South America into the picture. Additionally, I will also admit this song barely registers on my likability index. However, being a normal red blooded male; I have to admire the architecture of the buildings in the background (Yeah, that's the ticket!!!). And I hear Brazil has an excellent sugarcane ethanol industry, at least watching this movie makes environmental sense.(some consolation since I could find no other reason.)

9) Shayad Meri Shaadi Ka Khayal; Film : Souten;
Place : Mauritius, Africa

If you don't believe Mauritius is in Africa (I did not as well), here is the proof. The CIA Factbook also confirms this, so direct all your complaints to Langley Virginia.
I actually like this hummable song, and I get some flak for my viewpoint. The turquoise water sea-shore and picturesque beach resorts remind you of the Caribbean. Tina Munim is easy on the eyes, and you can always chuckle/guffaw at the sight of a much older Rajesh Khanna pursuing her.

8) Do Lafzon Ki Hai Dil Ki Kahani; Film : The Great Gambler;
Place : Venice, Italy, Europe

Another iffy film, but a nice song; check out that Italian crooner rowing dude. Perhaps Zeenat could pass for a local "La mia stella brillante!", but can Amitabh shake off that Mawaali image. Oh all right, since this is Italy we shall be charitable and call it the Sonny Corleone look.

7) Kiya Kiya Kya Kiya; Film : Welcome;
Place : Dubai, Asia

I can't believe I am about to say this is the best film so far. And with Nana Patekar & Anil Kapoor hamming it up, the song is catchy & entertaining. Do not miss the brief appearance of Feroz Khan, I share his hairstyle. There certainly are shots of Dubai in this song, but I can't be certain all of it is filmed there. Nevertheless, since the movie is based in Dubai, this complies with my rules. Remember I said reasoning based on "Bollywood Logic", and not something you would find in say "Causality, Models Reasoning and Inference" by Judea Pearl.

6) Kal Ho Na Ho; Film : Kal Ho Na Ho;
Place : New York, USA, North America

You certainly get a grand tour of New York, what with visuals of the Brooklyn Bridge, the various skyscrapers, Central Park & the Statue of Liberty. Pipe down New Jerseyites, yes that statue belongs to you; New Yorkers will retaliate "That's why its back is towards NJ". This song does advise you to "Live Life to the fullest", a sentiment heartily shared by New Yorkers. However, the film and the main thrust "Kal Ho Na Ho" i.e. "There May Not Be a Tomorrow" certainly misses the spirit of this city which firmly believes "There will always be a better and brighter tomorrow."
Apparently this SRK, Saif, Preity & Karan Johar film was a big hit with NRI's, I would any day prefer Woody Allen movies or The Godfather or Wall Street. But, I will admit the song is decent.

5) Phoolon Ke Rang Se; Film : Prem Pujari;
Place : Switzerland, Europe

Many readers may complain that DDLJ is the best example of songs in Switzerland, and would accuse me of rigging the rules just to get my favorite hero in here (Note I already assigned a song to SRK). Although DDLJ was certainly a better movie than Prem Pujari, this song is much better than any of the Switzerland/Europe DDLJ songs. And anyways personally I thought "Mehndi Lagake Rakhna" was the best DDLJ song, and it was shot in India. This best song in Prem Pujari is shot slightly off the beaten path, on the spectacular Meiringen to Grimsel Pass road. Even today few Bollywood Producers film songs in Alpine passes, and to have done so back in the late 60's/early seventies is certainly creditable.

4) Koi Jab Tumhara Hriday Tod De; Film : Purab Aur Paschim;
Place : England, Europe

This is the seminal Bollywood film about India-West differences in values and culture. Back in the early 70's its India being morally & spiritually superior to the West theme commanded a lot of attention and following. Note the suggestive "low morals" cigarette smoking blond Saira Banu being mentored (if mentored is the right word) by an "Indian" Manoj Kumar. One could probably write an entire thesis on this movie, touching on an independent India coming out of the shadows of its earlier ruler England, and fighting for recognition respect and equality. As time has passed and India & Indians have become more self-confident, the central theme has become less relevant. Still, one cannot deny the almost sublime nature of this song, and the "fits-like-a-glove" portrayal of then Indian attitudes towards England.

3) Tanhai; Film : Dil Chahta Hai;
Place : Sydney, Australia

Most Bollywood songs filmed abroad focus on love & romance, this one brilliantly introduces loneliness. For once a famous landmark (Sydney's famous Harbor bridge) is skillfully interwoven into a song's flow; and serves to emphasize the main point. The song is excellent, and Aamir proves himself to be amongst the rare "thinker" Bollywood heroes.

2) O Mere Shahe Khuban; Film : Love In Tokyo;
Place : Japan, Asia

This one (like Phoolon Ke Rang Se) would rank very high in just a list of songs. Add to it the exquisite Japanese countryside with blooming cherry blossoms, classic fountains, distinctive temples and looming mountains; one is almost tempted to get on the next flight going there. Asha Parekh is as lovely as always, but Joy Mukherjee is just competent; the lead couple being unimaginatively touristy is the main reason as to why this song is ranked #2 & not #1.
Also, this is one of those songs where I could use a good English translation; several words like Shahe Khuban, Jaane Janana, Justju, Iltaja, Sehrame, Jarro, Diyapha, etc. went over the head of this "Apun" "Kaiko" & "Khali-Peeli" learned author.

1) Raat Ke Humsafar; Film : An Evening In Paris;
Place : Paris, France, Europe

The first and most obvious reason for this song being #1 is most Bollywood songs filmed abroad are romantic and Paris is the ideal spot. Another genius touch is the focus on night-time Paris with fountain backdrops and that wonderful lighting. A complete lack of well-known tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Arc De Triomphe, and Champs Elysees is to put it mildly; brilliant. Consider the Eiffel Tower, arguably Paris' most famous landmark; but a significant number of French think it does not belong. I think it is slightly overrated, certainly standing in line and going up is to be avoided. Instead, visit the in-film shown Trocadero fountains and the not-shown adjacent gardens for a picnic lunch with wine.
It is often said that being a Parisian women is extremely difficult, not only do you have to be slim, beautiful and elegantly coiffured, but at times convey a haughty regal demeanor, and be ready to discuss Sartre or Camus while attired in a fetching swimsuit. Sharmila Tagore delivers all this including a then-modern "bouffant" hairstyle, and a fetching swimsuit in another song. Wikipedia informs us that the "bouffant" hairstyle was developed for Marie Antoinette, and 70's Bombay Film Magazines confirm the similarity by labeling her "La Tagore". Shammi Kapoor looks extremely handsome, and the pair look as if they have been living all their life in Paris.


BK Chowla said...

For your information, economics of film business is such that foreign shoots area must.
Sale of music rights and for caller tunes has become a business worth crores of Rs.

Songs shot at foreign locales fetches a much better price because now the foreign territory sale fetches a very high price

samir said...

Mr Chowla :))
That economics is a major if not overriding issue in Bollywood (& most elsewhere) is undeniable, thanks for pointing it out.
I just wish that most songs & films would go deeper into the foreign land's ethos & culture. As things stand now, a large # of songs are either tourism promotions and/or an extras laden 80's/90's MTV inspired exercise video dance-fest.

Smita said...

Aha!!! This is something different & innovative!

I totally totally buy your argument that it was architecture of the buildings in the background which brings the 1st song in this list :D

And u r so right! The Prem Pujari song is any day better than any other song picturised in Switzerland.

As far as Sydney & DCH are concerned I think I wud have chosen "Jaane Kyun" because Priety adds on to the scenery of the place ;)

samir said...

Thanks for the generous comment.
I knew you would be there to support me on Phoolon Ke Rang Se :)
And Jaane Kyo is a nice song, good recommendation.
I totally forgot Nepal & Hare Rama Hare Krishna; it is quite a task selecting one from there.

couchpapaya said...

so i opened the post and got a mild shock of sorts looking at the first pic. does anyone else think that the bikini top looks skin-colored on there or is it just my dirty mind? i wish to forget i ever watched that movie so no more comments about it :)

love the tanhai song ... and agree it's picturised really well too! dont know much about the other songs, but ur comments about the no. 1 song have made me so curious. will have to find that movie somewhere!!

as for other songs, murder had some picturised abroad, however i dont know where. by ur reasoning since the movie was based in HK i'm assuming it's there!

avdi said...

I love all these songs. I got goosebumps when I saw No.1 That is my no 1 favorite song as well. I can listen to it forever.

And that Prem Pujari song - I am with you. In fact Dev used so many foreign or off the beat locations in India that he could fill a whole list on his own.

Among recent songs I love Mitwa from KANK.

I wonder which was the FIRST song filmed in a foreign locale.

samir said...

Now that you mention it, I went back & checked; and you are right, it does look skin-colored. And yes, we shall officially stop all discussion about Dhoom2.
The #1 song movie is patchy in parts, the songs are excellent.
And was Murder the movie where you almost got murdered by B ? Did not know it was shot in HK.

samir said...

Glad to know you also like the #1 song. Not only id the song good, but the picturization is excellent, and the lead pair is fabulous.
Yes, I knew yoy me & Smita would be solidly behind Dev & Prem Pujari songs.
Have not listened to Mitwa, will do so.
That first song filmed abroad is a good qn, I think it probably would be the "Buddha Mil Gaya" song from Sangam. I am not sure of it though, and anyway that song was shot indoors, so technically it could have been shot in a Bombay studio.

couchpapaya said...

@ava - i'd forgotten mitwa, i love that song!! it's picturised very cutely too, hmm actually i just remember rani's adorable outfits :)

@samir - heh imagine u remembering that- no that was my wife's murder!! murder is a movie by anurag basu with emraan hashmi and mallika sherawat. needless to say hasmi creeped me out and sherawat ran around doing what she does best. i just thought of it because i was trying to think of a locale you hadnt covered in ur list. however, i cannot remember a single song from that movie so i doubt they could stand up to a top 10 list!

samir said...

@ Ava & CP :))
I did see Mitwa, it is good. KANK is another of those movies I could not complete.

@CP :))
My wife keeps teasing me that I like Hitchcock's "Dial M for Murder" becos it is about a husband trying to murder his wife. That's why I guess your review stuck in my mind.
Now that you elaborated, I think I saw a little bit of Murder as well. Really sad movie, another incomplete. Oh ! well ! nothing comes close to DMFM.

avdi said...

Hmm You could be right about Sangam. But I am sure something came before that. Some silent flick with a static Eifel Tower in the background ..

CP I love Mitwa in audio. And still listen to it.

samir said...

Ava :))
Good one, now you too started pulling my leg.

Anonymous said...

Clever idea for a post samir-ji.
I like: e) As far as possible, the song must be logically integrated into the story (by Bollywood standards and not by MIT-Harvard-Princeton-Stanford PhD dissertation committee standards). LOL.
How about Chandni Chowk to China?

And as long as I'm in Asia, let's jump over to Korea to see Bheegi Bheegi from Gangster, which I think is the first Bollywood flick to be filmed in part in Korea.

Here's an interesting thing I fond while looking to find a link to the Gangster film:

All the best!

samir said...

Sita-ji :))
Thanks for the wonderful comment and the song suggestions. I have not seen CCtC or Gangster; but China & South Korea are excellent new additions. Certainly a sign of Bollywood becoming more global in nature, although I think their song quality continues to decline.
Thanks for the BBC news piece, Bollywood & Mumbai Gangsters could generate another thesis.

Yword said...

I missed all these super posts! par dera aaye durust aaye, eh? good idea. Amitabh and zeenat ka gaana is awesome no? but really no sridevi singing in a sari in the snow?my pick would be her chandni songs - chiffon clad in freezing weather wow!

samir said...

Always glad to see you here, welcome.
Agree that Amitabh Zeenat song is really good.
Looked up those Chandni songs again, I think I have seen a Salman Khan in a half-sleeve shirt on snow song; maybe that will pair well with Sridevi. Oh well !, I suppose these stars probably demand hazardous pay for such occasions.
Thanks for a lovely comment.

avdi said...

I think Murder was shot (pun mara kya?) in Bangkok. There were a couple of catchy songs in there, kaho na kaho.. and another where mallika and Emran spend the night on a ledge outside the window (that is soooo Mahesh Bhatt).

Btw, I was drawn here because your blog showed a recent post, but when I tried to click - no show .. kuch hua kya?

samir said...

Ava :))
Good pun indeed. Spending the night on a ledge !!! I have to see that (LOL).
Yes I am trying to write something, and I accidentally hit the Publish btn before it was completed. Hope to finish it soon.
Thanks for asking.

yves said...

Hi Samir,
Where did you get this idea that" a significant number of French think [the Eiffel Tower] does not belong"? Even if indeed you can spend your lifetime in Paris without having ever climbed it, I think no Parisians nowadays would say the Tower doesn't belong to the capital. It used to be the case when it was built, back in 1879, I think, but not any more.

You also say "I think it is slightly overrated, certainly standing in line and going up is to be avoided" - well, even if there are a lot of people wanting to go up, true, and at all times of the year, I think you'd find it a phenomenal experience. The big difference with other buildings is that you can actually watch yourself go up, you're outside all the time as it were. And once you're up there, on a fine day, it's just fantastic.
Apart from that, great blog, thanks!

samir said...

Yves :)
Thanks for the elaborate comment and for liking my blog.
I would essentially agree with you that the Eiffel Tower was much more controversial when it was first built. And, I tag it "overrated" during busy times; but more important, in comparison to other splendid attractions available in Paris & the rest of France.
My argument's thrust was directed at Bollywood filmmakers; hopefully inspiring them to present foreign locales in more depth than casual tourists with advanced movie making technology.

Mohsin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mohsin said...

I think the title track of Hadd kardi aapne does more justice to Swiss location than Prem Pujari!!

Benjamin Jacob and Ivy Manohara said...

Here's Filmapia ( - gives shooting locations of movies, Bollywood and otherwise. I think 'Bachna ae Haseeno' has better covered Switzerland in 1/3rd of its movie. Most extensive coverage has to be DDLJ?

samir said...

@Mohsin &
@Benjamin Jacob and Ivy Manohara
Thanks for your suggestions.
Undoubtedly Bollywood films in recent years have shot more extensively in Switzerland, and will continue to explore other countries in the future. However, "Phoolon Ke Rang Se" as a song is still unmatched (IMHO).

Anonymous said...

Wonderful list, Samir - and some of my favourite songs too (I adore Raat ke humsafar, O mere shahekhubaan and the Prem Pujari song in particular). Another nice Japanese garden song is Milti hai zindagi mein mohabbat kabhi-kabhi... I like that not so much for the lyrics or the music or even the leads (Mala Sinha is wearing a silly sombrero-like hat), but for the garden itself - it looks beautiful.

samir said...

Quite a few songs on this lists were added simply to satisfy the one song per country/continent criteria, and are not amongst my favorites. The songs you mentioned are the exception of course, and all of them would rank very high in just a list of songs. I checked up on "Milti Hai ..." & it is a good song, certainly pretty good background.
Thanks for a great comment.

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