HomeCultureEvolution of Item Songs: Mera Nam Chin Chin Chu to Sheila Ki Jawani

Evolution of Item Songs: Mera Nam Chin Chin Chu to Sheila Ki Jawani

It should be made perfectly clear that item songs never were and never will be something that should be accepted by society. However, in what manner item songs were showed and how they are being shown now is something important that needs to be addressed. The evolution of these “item songs” in India is clearly not a pretty one. For those unfamiliar with Bollywood, item songs are basically one song in the film that is completely irrelevant to the plot and is simply incorporated for the mere entertainment of hetereosexual male viewers. These item songs have a female, or the item girl, who is shown dancing to entertain men. The whole concept behind item songs is immoral (talk about objectifying…) but an equal problem is how they’ve changed and become worse.

A great example of an old item song is Mera Nam Chin Chin Chu from Howrah Bridge in 1958, featuring famous Bollywood actress, Helen. In the video, the “item girl” is shown performing and dancing actually wearing clothing. She is wearing a dress that reaches her ankles and is almost full-sleeved. Her dance and clothes allowed her to keep her dignity unlike some recent item songs. The lyrics are simple and proper because all she sings throughout the song is, “My name is chin chin chu.”  Other songs that are similar to “Mera Nam Chin Chin Chu” are “Man Dole Mera Tan Dole,” “Ab Aage Teri Marzi,” “O Jaanewale Ruk Jaa” and “Ek Do Teen.”

The change in items songs has been from a focus on the dance to a focus on the body. There is a huge difference between the two; one glorifies their skill and hardwork, the other clearly reduces women to their physical appearance. One of the most recent famous item songs is Sheila Ki Jawani from Tees Mar Khan, featuring famous Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif. Katrina Kaif is shown in the beginning of the song wearing nothing but a blanket on a bed singing, “I know you want it but you’re never going to get it, I’m never going to fall into your hands.” She later sings things such as “I’m too sexy for you,” “Everybody want a body like Sheila,” and even, “Money, car, luxurious villa: I need a man who can give me all that.” Throughout the song she changes three times, each outfit being as exposing (titillating) as the other. Songs that are similar to Sheila and her style are “Munni Badnaam Hui” and “Halkat Jawani.”

The competition of which Bollywood movie goes “hit” is always highly dependent on the item song. The competition of who features more skin not better costumes, whose dance steps are more vulgar not coordinated, and whose lyrics are more sexual not romantic, is being encouraged by society and needs to be stopped. Dance should be appreciated as an art, not a way for men to be entertained, because this provokes the concept of men being superior. The role of women is not to entertain men.

I worry about what item songs will look like in a few years from now.

[Image Attribute: FanPop]
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