Thursday, October 27, 2011

The songs! Our songs!

The year is 2005. The rain has settled into a sweet Delhi drizzle. Between the bus conductor’s lusty cries of ‘Gurgaanva!’ the radio crackles with song.

A group of college girls boards the bus, arranges itself in the row just ahead. The song changes to the still-popular Bheege honth tere (Your lips are wet). One of the girls begins to sing along, but there is one line she skips: Kabhi mere saath koi raat guzaar (Come spend a night with me).

In swoops a memory. I’m a schoolgirl in remote Rajasthan. It’s lunch break. The girls are soaking in the winter sunshine, singing 'Mr India' songs. The girl with the sweetest voice is singing the stunningly sensual Kaate nahin katate, but there’s one line she will not sing. All of us hang our heads, humming, afraid of being caught singing that line: I love you.

This is the sort of childhood memory I never share with Bombay and Delhi friends. They’ll never understand.

The extract above is from a longer essay on Hindi film lyrics and our changing social values. It appears in Forbes Life. Go, pick up a copy to read the full piece. It also has some writers weighing in on themes as diverse (though not always unconnected) as poker and nudity. Here's a cover image to help you identify it.

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