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.