6 April 2018

My Favourites: Bathroom Songs

Recently, Dustedoff posted a list of ‘Swimming Pool’ songs – songs that were filmed near, or in a swimming pool, for the better part of it. In the comments, I mentioned that I had a similar list which I’d been saving for when our summer begins. (Anyone who wants to go swimming in an outdoor pool on the East Coast in April had better have their brains checked.) I since dropped the idea, but this theme is tangential to that one.

I remember, when I was younger, the common perception was that when the directors/producers wanted ‘sexy’ (just enough to escape the censors), they would add in a ‘bathroom scene’. Was it really necessary to the plot? Not usually. Those scenes were just included to titillate the audiences. (Malayalam cinema of a certain period became infamous for such scenes, never mind that many of these were incorporated into the films by distributors in other states.)

This was not limited to the Malayalam film industry. In an episode of Koffee with Karan, veteran actresses Hema Malini and Zeenat Aman reminisced about shooting films in their times. They talked about camera angles and how certain directors would want them to expose more than was required for the scene or that the actresses wanted to. The late Sridevi talked about wearing a couple of petticoats under her saris when doing these (or even ‘rain’) scenes. It seems like no heroine (and some heroes) ever escaped being drenched under some pretext or the other. Quite typically, these scenes were also an excuse for a song sequence. 

So here are ten of my favourite ‘bathroom’ sequences from Hindi films – well, some of my favourites anyway. (They’re clustered on the top.)

Anubhav (1971) / Singer: Geeta Dutt /  Music: Kanu Roy / Lyrics: Gulzar
The first of Basu Bhattacharya’s marital discord trilogy (the others being Aavishkar (1973) and Grih Pravesh (1979), Anubhav has Tanuja playing Meeta, the neglected wife of Amar (Sanjeev Kumar). In a bid to bring intimacy back into their lives, Meeta gets rid of all the servants except an old retainer. She takes charge of home and hearth, and in one happy moment, is seen in the bathtub, humming, Mera dil jo mera hota… the music is barely there, complementing Geeta Dutt’s voice which is front and centre. The song sounds like one that someone would sing at home, with its pauses and silences, and Gulzar’s lyrics were the icing. Think of lines like:
Barsa hai kayi barson
Aakaash samundar mein
Ik boond hai chanda ki
Utri na samundar mein
Do haathon ke okh mein ye
Gir padta toh kyaa hota
Haathon mein khuda hota

Trivia: From what I read once, most of the movie was shot in Tanuja’s flat.

Abhinetri (1970) / Singer: Lata Mangeshkar / Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal / Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
This one is both a ‘rain song’ as well as a bathroom song – it begins with the rain pattering on the glass roof of Anjana’s (Hema Malini) porch. She then proceeds to work out and then relax in a bathtub. (I am in awe of the fact that she can exercise and sing, even while doing backbends and crunches!) The bubble bath, of course, looks extremely welcoming, though glass roofs and French windows in bathrooms should be banned on grounds of good taste.

12 o’clock (1958) / Singer: Mohammed Rafi / Music: OP Nayyar / Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Living in flats (apartments) has an advantage. Especially if you fall in love with the girl (boy) who lives in the flat upstairs. So even with both of them having baths (not together, of course!) she can still hear him sing: Dhun yahi jo rahi pyaar ki 
Ho rahegi meri woh kabhi
Mera dil thehar ja machal nahin
Main kho gaya yahin kahin
 – and smile in reciprocal affection though she’s not committing herself just yet. He’s really lost (kho gaya) though – you’ll notice he’s towelling himself with the shower still on.

Pati Patni aur Woh (1978) / Singer: Mahendra Kapoor, Asha Bhosle / Music: Ravindra Jain / Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
Ever shivered at the thought of taking a bath? Actually, just undressing yourself in order to do so in freezing temperatures? I can empathise. The temperature swings wildly between 15o C (at its highest) and about 2oC – and this is April. In December-January, all bets are off as we go well before zero. Of course, this is in Bombay, but the scene is so realistic, especially if you have a child who decides that bathing with you is the highlight of his day. But while father (Sanjeev Kumar) and son (Master Bittu) seem to be having the time of their lives, with bucket and lota, the wife is bothered about what the neighbours will think. (Which, if you know flats in Bombay, is a given.) 
Ab shor mat karo ji
Sunte hain sab padosi
Ho keh do padosiyon se
Jhaanke na khidkiyon se… 
If ever there was a defence of bathroom singing, this is it: 'Gaana aaye ya na aaye gaana chaahiye.' This was a total ‘time-pass’ song.

Footpath (1953) / Singer: Asha Bhosle / Music: Khayyam / Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
The young woman has just met the handsome young newspaperman and has quite lost her heart to him. While he hands her a bouquet to hand to the woman she works for, the words he says implies that he means them for her. Or so she infers. Stars in her eyes, hope in her heart, she hurries home. As she steps in to the rustic bathroom for her ablutions, she can’t help expressing her mixed feelings in song. 
Unse nazar kya mili
Khil gayi dil ki kali
Jhoom ke chhaayi bahaar
Phoot pada dil se pyaar 
Khayyam’s first film as ‘Khayyam’ (he earlier composed as ‘Sharmaji’), this Asha Bhosle number is beautifully pictured on a very young and very pretty Meena Kumari.

Jhuk Gaya Aasman (1968) / Singer: Lata Mangeshkar / Music: Shankar-Jaikishan / Lyrics: Hasrat Jaipuri
In this remake of Here Comes Mr Jordan, Rajendra Kumar plays Sanjay, a tourist guide, who has fallen head over heels in love with Priya (Saira Banu), a member of a group of young women who have come to visit Darjeeling. After a whole lot of plot contrivances, Priya realises she loves him as well. And what better than a relaxing bath to admit that to herself for the first time?   
Paas na baithe pal bhar woh
Phir bhi ho gaya unse pyaar
Itni bas khabar ke mere hosh ud gaye

Jhoola (1941) / Singer: Ashok Kumar / Music: Saraswati Devi / Lyrics: Pradeep
The precursor to the more popular version from Padosan (1968), the original is both sung by, and picturised on Ashok Kumar. Having fallen in love with a photograph on a magazine cover, Ramesh (Ashok Kumar) travels down to the village where the young woman (Leela Chitnis) lives. Renting a room next to where she lives, he begins to write love letters to her. Once, when she’s on the balcony of her house, he rushes inside to compose a song about her. His charpai breaks but he’s not ruffled. Until he decides he needs to have a bath. The cold water makes him shiver, and so the song that was sung relatively melodiously until now, becomes more of ‘gasping’ than singing.

Padosan (1968) / Singer: Lata Mangeshkar / Music: RD Burman / Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan
Bhola (Sunil Dutt) has had a fight with his uncle (Om Prakash) house due to a misunderstanding. The uncle has been estranged from his wife (Dulari) for five years, and Bhola assumes that his uncle is getting married again, and to a young woman, at that. He decides to go live with his aunt, whom he loves. While there, he discovers that the house opposite has new tenants – a couple and their daughter. It doesn’t interest him until he hears singing from the neighbours’ – Bindu (Saira Banu) is always singing (according to his aunt). Right now, as she bathes and dresses and prances around the room, she is definitely singing – and Bhola is enjoying the entertainment.

Tarzan Comes to Delhi (1965) / Singer: Lata Mangeshkar / Music: Dattaram / Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
Another one of the ‘bathe-and-dress-so-you-can-loll-on-the-bed’ songs, this one has Mumtaz – in the days before she became a star to reckon with. She plays Rekha, the daughter of a professor, who has been tricked by a big city fortune hunter into leading him to the jungle so he can steal a valuable necklace from the tribal God. Now, if Rekha cannot bring back the necklace, her father will be sacrificed by the tribals. Helping her is (an Indian) Tarzan (Dara Singh), who travels back with her to the city so he can help retrieve the sacred necklace. (Don’t ask.) While Tarzan is busy rubbing shoulders with the astonished city folk, Rekha is busy falling in love with him, and of course, showering with her sari on. (Out of curiosity, how the heck did she manage to get out of a soaking wet blouse after the shot was over?)

Chanda aur Bijli (1969) / Singer: Asha Bhosle / Music: Shankar-Jaikishan / Lyrics: Indeewar
My first thought upon seeing this song was that petty thievery in 60s Bombay must have paid a lot for the gang to be able to live in such a mansion. My second thought was ‘Heck, that bathroom is bigger than my whole flat in Bombay!’ And it’s pretty luxurious. And my third was, who the heck rolls around on a bathroom floor? Never mind. Bijli (Padmini) obviously didn’t. Ecstatic that her lover, Sheru (Sanjeev Kumar) is being released from jail after a six-month sentence, Bijli decides to prettify herself. Unfortunately for her, Bhagatram (Jeevan), the leader of the gang, has designs upon her virtue, which she’s been continually defending with the dagger hanging at her waist. Presently, however, he is being the creepy voyeur, eyeing her through the slats of the Venetian doors of the bathroom. (Who on earth installs slatted doors for a bathroom?) Unaware of his gaze – but why? He’s been spying on her all these years; what makes her think he’s changed? – she’s happily showering (or rolling on the floor), thinking of Sheru, and anticipating his return.

So… bathroom singing at its best. And worst. What songs would you add?

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