16 June 2015

India #2: Back to Bollywood

Today it is time to head back to the land of weird, colourful movies with awfully catchy music: ladies and gentlemen, back to Bollywood. Bollywood is the Indian equivalent of Hollywood; That is also where the name comes from since it combines Hollywood with the location where Bollywood movies are being made: Mumbai that was formerly known as Bombay. Many prefer to the entire Indian movie scene as Bollywood, but correctly it is just part of India's movie world, though quite large and highly famous one.

Wikipedia: India

Many Bollywood films are filled with music and dancing amongst the actual storyline, just like musicals. A huge part of Indian music is actually made for Bollywood movies and sometimes it feels like all Indian music is Bollywood. This though is incorrect, but more about that later. I mentioned in my previous India feature post that I have never watched Bollywood movies (Slumdog Millionaire comes to the closest I have been of watching an Indian movie and it is British), but I sure would love to. From what I get from watching songs and clips from YouTube, Bollywood films seem a lot of fun. In this post I will feature few of my recent favourites from the land of Bollywood.

The first two songs come from a movie called Chennai Express. This movie was directed by Rohit Shetty and it was released in 2013. The main stars are Deepika Padukone and Shahrukh Khan, whom both are very famous and among the top actors in India. The movie Chennai Express is one of the highest grossing Bollywood films, fourth highest in India and third worldwide to be exact. Like I said I have not seen this movie either, but based on the songs I definitely see why this movie is so popular.

The first song is called Titli and it is sung by Gopi Sunder, Chinmayi and Srimathumita. (And I was just reminded how much I hated writing the Indian names during my first Indian music post.) Of these singers the first is famous composer who has composed the huge pile of Indian movies and the other two are playback singers who have worked in many, many films, the latter in example in the mentioned Slumdog Millionaire. Since Bollywood songs usually feature multiple singers, it would be too much work and too much to read if I were to introduce them all better than this, so let's talk about the song.

Titli means a butterfly. The song is very calm and beautiful. I do not know what they sing, but for the sound and the movie clip I go assuming it is a love song. It is hard to believe this kind of song would be anything else; It is just so harmonic and romantic. It actually makes me feel kind of calm, which is a huge achievement for a song. I simply love this song and the main female singer's voice is just amazingly soft (do not let the more harsh beginning of the song fool you). Simply a stunning song.

According to Wikipedia the main storyline of Chennai Express is: "about a man's journey from Mumbai to Rameshwaram, and what happens along the way after he falls in love with the daughter of a local don." I do not want to read much about the story in case I get a chance to see this movie someday, but I have always loved trains. The title Chennai Express obviously reflects to a train's name, but I am not sure how it relates to this movie: The state of Chennai is located at a total different corner of India than the places mentioned in the description.

The other song is called Lungi Dance and it is very different from Titli. It is very upbeat and quite funny song. Catchy it is, if not anything else. Lungi Dance is sung and composed by Indian rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh. According to Wikipedia, Yo Yo Honey Singh is one of the highest paid music producers in Bollywood and he seems to have a major CV. I find this song very much fun and it shows again to colourful and fun side of Bollywood (even though the Titli video is more colourful, haha. But I meant song-wise now.). Lungi, by the way, is a traditional, skirt-like cloth worn in many Asian and African countries, India amongst many others.

All the songs from the Chennai Express movie can be found from the movie's soundtrack, released in 2013.

Next up is a bit interesting case: Lazy Lamhe from a movie Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic. The title of the movie means A Little Love, A Little Magic. I am not sure of this movie actually is a Bollywood movie, but the song at least would fit into a one. The movie was released in 2008 and it was directed by a Bollywood director Kunal Kohli. The cast includes big names, with main starring Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukerji, Rishi Kapoor and Ameesha Patel (okay, these names were not too bad). The story starts with the main character accidentally killing a couple and a judge ordering him to look after the couple's four children. Interesting law system in India, apparently.

According to Wikipedia, the movie has similarities with the musical The Sound Of Music, so I am all up for watching this. What I find interesting is that some call this movie a children's movie?? My review is based on the Lazy Lamhe video, but for me this does not seem like a children's movie; In countries like the USA and many European countries this would definitely be prohibited for children. Even to me this seems a bit too much, but perhaps it is not a children's movie after all? The movie seems otherwise a bit weird too, but at least the music is great.

The song Lazy Lamhe (Lazy Moments in English) is sung by Anusha Mani, who actually sung also in Chennai Express, though not in the songs featured in this post. The song is a seduction song, fit for the scene seen on the movie I suppose. I do find this song seductive, fair enough. I do not know why, but somehow the word lazy fits perfectly the feeling I get from this song, besides seductive obviously. It is kind of mystical and warm song. Did I say it is seductive already? The music video in my opinion sort of ruins the seduction impact, but the song by itself is very effective.

The soundtrack for Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic was released in 2008 and it of course features Lazy Lamhe.

Let's continue in the bit naughty road started by Lazy Lamhe. This next song is called Shut Up & Bounce and it is from the movie Dostana. Dostana has many translations, ie. friendship and bromance. The story of the movie is that two male friends want to rent an apartment, but they are not allowed since a female lives there too. The guys then pretend to be gays to get to live there and of course they both fall in love with the girl roommate. The film was shot in Miami and the director was Tarun Mansukhani. The three main stars are John Abraham (he is Indian, though the name may be fooling), Abhishek Bachchan and Priyanka Chopra, who I actually featured in my previous India post.

The song Shut Up & Bounce was written by Anvita Dutt Guptan and sung by a duo called Vishal-Shekhar and Sunidhi Chauhan, who is highly popular singer in India. I said we continue on the naughty road, and by this I meant to music video which includes bikinis and such. The song itself sounds fairly clean, besides the Shut Up & Bounce refrain. In my opinion this song sounds a bit like western style dance-pop song. With Indian touch of course. It is very catchy and dancy song. The main singer, Sunidhi Chauhan I assume, has very nice voice and it gives real edge to this song.

And like other Bollywood movies, Dostana also has a soundtrack, which was released in 2008.

I mentioned in the start of this post that not all Indian songs are from a movie, even though it often feels like so. Here is one example of other kind of Indian music: Maahi Rokna Aaj by Shreya Ghoshal. At first I would like to say that the very beginning of this song actually put me off at first (now I actually like it), but the song changes eventually into something very different. Shreya Ghoshal is actually too a movie playback singer (is there an Indian singer who is not?), but like said, she has also released music outside of movies. Shreya comes from a West Bengal city called Baharampur. She is just 31 years old, but already has a long career behind her with her starting professional singing in 1998.

Shreya sings many different kinds of music. Maahi Rokna Aaj is from an album called Humnasheen, which Shreya released in 2014. This album is very interesting actually: the genres are Hindustani classical, Indian classical and Ghazal. The songs were composed by Deepak Pandit and all of them feature different instruments; Many of these instruments I have never even heard of, like mohan veena, tabla and sarangi. The various instruments really give the album an interesting sound and feel. The album is actually a Ghazal album and I only learned about this type of music when listening to his album. And so far I am liking it a lot!

I find Maahi Rokna Aaj very beautiful and touching song. I have no idea what she sings about, but she sings very, very beautifully. Even her voice alone is very touching experience, but also the music is stunning. The song includes the instrument sarangi, which seems to be some kind of smallish string instrument. The overall sound of this song is something I am not very accustomed on, but very, very pretty. A very melodic and stylish song indeed. And I really love Shreya's voice.

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