In the lead-up to the 2016 film FAN, starring Shah Rukh Khan, we were treated to the song "Jabra". As he danced through the streets of Delhi, SRK performed with the energy of a 20-something fan celebrating his love for his favorite superstar. The song was fun, upbeat and got everyone excited for the release of the film.
Unfortunately, the film itself did not include the song. In fact, there weren't any dance numbers in the film.
We are starting to see more and more Indian films jettison the song-and-dance routines as they try to adjust to a market that is seeing an influx of films from other countries which don't include choreographed song performances. There is a certain entertainment value that is lost when film songs are restricted to background music, particularly in Indian films.
Well choreographed musical numbers can contribute to the storyline in a way dialogue alone cannot, becoming integral to the tale and inspiring audiences long after the film is over.
Here are five great, grand and gloriously choreographed songs that highlight the awesomeness of Indian musical films.
Film: Bajirao Mastani (Hindi)
Release Date: 18 December 2015
Directed by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Music by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Lyrics by: Siddharth–Garima; Qawwali lyrics by Nasir Faraaz; Marathi lyrics by Ganesh Chandanshive)
Sung by: Shreya Ghoshal; Backing vocals by Ganesh Chandanshive, Mujtaba Aziz Naza, Shahdab Faridi, Altamush Faridi, Farhan Sabri)
Choreography by: Remo D'Souza
Description: After Baji Rao (Ranveer Singh) and his Marathi troops come to the aid of the Hindu Rajput King Chhatrasal, the king's daughter Mastani (Deepika Padukone) falls in love with him. But the warrior king is already married and Mastani is the daughter of King Chhatrasal's Muslim Persian wife, so will not be welcome in the Marathi Hindu empire. But because Baji Rao gifted Mastani his dagger, a symbol of marriage among the Bundelkhand, Mastani travels to Pune and makes her presence known to Baji Rao by dancing in his court and professing her love. The intricate and richly designed costumes, the traditional dance performance, and the elaborate set design bring this based-on-a-true-historical-story to life in a memorable way. The performance won a National Film Award for "creating enchanting moves that expresses anguish of love, defying social barriers, resonating the core theme of the film." The set for the song was turned into a museum to showcase the hard work and effort that goes into such a lavish production number.
Description: An Indian adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet against the backdrop of Kashmir events in the 1990s, "Bismil" serves as the play within a play where Haider (Shahid Kapoor) narrates the story of murder most foul when his uncle killed his father in order to marry his mother. A blend of Kashmiri folk music with western opera music, the song features aggressive dance moves juxtaposed with a haunting unveiling of the tale using giant puppets. The song won two National Film Awards: An award for choreographer Sudesh Adhana for "the evocative fusion of performative grammars, interweaving a staccato whirling of masculinised bodies with larger than life puppets, to create a dance that is firmly embedded within the narrative" and an award for playback singer Sukhwinder Singh for "a powerful rendition which effectively reflects the agony and anger of the protagonist."
Description: Milkha Singh (Farhan Akhtar) has joined the Indian Army and he and his platoon reflect on military life - the dedication, hard work and repetitive exercises. This dynamic song is primarily shot in the barracks with the sense of camaraderie among the soldiers palpable. "Maston Ka Jhund" received a National Film Award for choreography for "effectively using young soldiers and just the props available within the barracks to create a rugged and exuberant dance."
Film: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (Hindi)
Release Date: 15 July 2011
Directed by: Zoya Akhtar
Music by: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Lyrics by: Javed Akhtar
Sung by: Maria del Mar Fernández, Farhan Akhtar, Hrithik Roshan, Abhay Deol
Choreography by: Bosco-Caesar
Description: As Kabir (Abhay Deol) gets ready for his wedding day, he and his buddies - Imran (Farhan Akhtar) and Arjun (Hrithik Roshan) - take a bachelor party road trip through Spain where they participate in adventure sports. One night they find themselves in a small town that is having a celebration complete with flamenco dancing. Already a bit intoxicated from the trip so far, the boys join the party. The performance celebrates life and love which transcends language barriers. "Señorita" won a National Film Award for "the innovative blending of a realistic dance event in Spain and the appearance of the primary characters on location. Bosco Caesar effortlessly mixes the tradition of professional Flamenco dancing with the capabilities and styles of the Indian actors."
Film: Magadheera (Telugu)
Release Date: 31 July 2009
Directed by: S. S. Rajamouli
Music by: M. M. Keeravani
Lyrics by: Chandrabose
Sung by: Teesha "Nikitha" Nigam and M. M. Keeravani
Choreography by: K. Sivasankar
Description: Crown princess of Udayghad Mithravinda Devi (Kajal Aggarwal) is in love with the Udayghad Commander-in-Chief of the army, Bhairava (Ram Charan). When he wins a contest of skill to earn the hand of the princess in marriage, she imagines him as a powerful King and passionate lover. This magical fantasy is an intimate romance told on a grandiose scale with intricate dance performances, elaborate staging, and beautiful set designs which transport you back to an ancient time and place. The choreography received a National Film Award for "breathtaking energy and innovation".
The following playlist features each of these songs, including "Jabra" from FAN.
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