Thursday, October 29, 2015

Filmi Halloween Costumes!

**reposted from Masala Mommas October 2015 issue:

It’s almost Halloween! Some folks plan their costumes out months in advance, painting, sewing and bedazzling creative concepts and pop culture icons into completely original likenesses. Others go the traditional route of a mask or robe and just try to be as scary as possible. If you were like me growing up, you spent several years recycling old lehengas and costume jewelry to be an “Indian girl” or “gypsy”.

I remember one year in particular that my sister and I decided to dress in black faux-leather and pose as Kajol and Manisha Koirala (respectively) from the poster of 90s film Gupt. It took some true filmi nerds to recognize us but we had a blast. I’ve thought year after year that Hindi films offer so many fabulous characters and signature “looks” that it would be really fun to come up with “filmi” Halloween costumes. Some are more appropriate for adults, but some could even work for kids!

Here were some really recognizable looks that came to mind immediately:

  • Ra.One: Shah Rukh Khan’s video game hero can satisfy any robot or video game enthusiast. Bonus points for doing the Chammak Challo dance!

  • Amar Akbar Anthony: Ideal if you have three boys! Might be a little difficult procuring an accordion but still …
  • Hawa Hawaii: For anyone who loves gold and glitter, big hair and a certain 80s aesthetic.
  • Shahenshah: That hair tho. Amitabh’s signature look for this movie is rough, tough and totally do-able with some silver washable hair spray.
  • Madhumati: Cutesy and innocent, Vyjayanthimala’s look in this film would suit the young and not-so-young.
  • Geet from Jab We Met: I’m particularly thinking of Kareena Kapoor’s look in the popular song “Yeh Ishq Haye” with the long skirt and peasant blouse.

  • Basanti from Sholay: Who wouldn’t love to play the feisty village belle?
  • Sridevi’s Nagina Costume: Dramatic, glittery white and beautiful, and no one will fault you if you want to skip the blue contact lenses.
  • Dimple’s 70s fashions from Bobby: All those bold prints! But watch out, some of these outfits can get a little mature for any little ones.
  • Zeenat Aman in Hare Rama Hare Krishna: Not a far leap from your standard hippie costume - all you need are some big tinted glasses, a flower garland or bead rudraksh mala, and a nice red tilak.

  • Rishi Kapoor’s silver disco suit from Karz: Those in the know will be singing “Om Shanti Om” upon sight. Larger than life turntable is optional.
  • Disco Dancer: Mithun’s sweet disco moves aren’t for everyone, but those spangly sequins costumes and headbands would certainly capture attention!
  • Chulbul Pandey from Dabangg: The khaki police uniform and pencil moustache Salman Khan sported in Dabangg is hilariously cute on little ones.

From the blog:

  • Mr. India: This could be really cute on a little guy - all you need is a floppy bucket hat, slightly oversize suit jacket and big bushy moustache. And of course those fancy glasses.
  • Raj from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge: Leather jacket, jeans and a fedora with a prominent feather sticking out. Add in a mandolin and you’ll have all the ladies swooning.

  • Krrish: The superhero costume Hrithik donned was really just a re-hash of Neo’s outfit from The Matrix. All you have to do is cut up a Batman mask and voila!
  • Anarkali from Mughal-E-Azam: Stunning, lavish and utterly recognizable, Madhubala’s beautiful Anarkali costumes from Mughal-E-Azam were specially designed and stitched from Agra and Delhi.
  • Anjali from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai: Just find the most ill-fitting, unflattering overalls imaginable and a big wide headband. You can even carry a basketball for the complete effect. Just don’t wear Rahul’s “Cool” necklace.

  • Lightbulb Suit from Yaarana: This is my personal favorite idea! Saara Zamaana is such a fun song and apparently it was Amitabh Bachchan’s own idea to create the light up suit he wears in it. Nowadays it shouldn’t even be that hard to re-create with LED light ropes. If someone actually tries this please send in a picture -- I’m dying to see it brought to life!

These are just a few of my ideas. I would love to hear some other concepts, or see photos if you have tried them out! Happy Trick or Treating! Here’s a bonus Bollywood Halloween song for you!

Monday, October 19, 2015

RETRO POST: Diwali Dances for Kids

**Reprinted from Masala Mommas, October 2013 issue:

It's the most festive, exciting time of year according to me. It all starts with Navarathri which means a whirl of garbas and Durga Puja and visits to see people's Golu (South Indian custom). This is quickly followed by what feels like an endless stream of Diwali functions - community showcases, dinner dances and so on. And a guaranteed feature at these events is a whole bunch of kids dances!

Year after year I attend these functions and alternately find myself enraptured by or horrified by some of these displays. Sometimes the kids are amazingly coordinated or immaculately dressed, other times I find myself seriously questioning the parents that sanction sparkly booty shorts as appropriate costumes for children.

This is actually the first time I'm finding myself involved in these types of items. As a child I was always separated from these community items by virtue of being a Bharata Natyam dancer - so our items were set apart and usually themed on either Ram's return to Ayodhya,
Krishna defeating Narakasura or generally about Mahalakshmi or Devi.

Now as the parent of an almost six year old boy, I'm experiencing my first community Diwali dance - and it is beyond adorable. But it also led me to think about what songs I'm seeing performed at local events. Now if you are organizing a show you are likely to see the same songs popping up over and over -- One Two Three Four Get On The Dance Floor from Chennai Express, Radha from Student of the Year and either Badtameez Dil or Dilliwali Girlfriend from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. These seem to be the hot picks for Diwali 2013.

But supposing you wanted a more unique choice - something more age appropriate than lyrics about "booty shaking" and Radha's "sexy body". What songs exist out there in the Bolly Universe that could suit the occasion and the age of the performers? I had a great deal of fun pondering this question and thought I would share my short list - and I'm sure there are a great many more out there so we'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

So here are my picks for Kid-Friendly Diwali Performance Songs from Bollywood Films:

For the younger set (songs that are a bit easier-paced for more lyrical moves than complicated steps but still fun and cute):

For elementary to pre-teen aged kids (more upbeat and/or would require more complex choreography):

For diya/candle dances (better for older children, probably 8+ to handle diyas):

No matter what song is chosen though, any efforts parents make to get the children involved in the spirit of celebrating our traditional holidays is a plus in my book. And as a little extra incentive, I definitely recommend getting a hold of some sparklers to light on Diwali night! My own childhood memories of Diwali definitely include the excitement (and slight fear) of sparklers.

I wish you all and your families a very fun-filled holiday season, whether you are celebrating Bakr Eid or Diwali or any other tradition!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Song of the Day: Rommy times with Govinda in the 90s

I had this song stuck in my head this morning and couldn't stop humming it ... it's been so long since I blogged but I thought I might as well share it.

I first came across this song in a commercial for Mahasangraam which was on some VHS tape of some Hindi movie we watched fairly often. It was just a snippet of the verse so I didn't get too excited. Then there was an audio trailer for the soundtrack on some cassette tape so I heard more of the full song and thought it was really pretty. Obviously I bought the soundtrack for Madhuri Dixit's fabulous "I Love You Pyar Karoon Choon" - which was super popular when it came out - but this song was a great little bonus.

Love Amit Kumar's crooning and Anuradha Paudwal sounds as sweet as ever - the guitar strumming and strings plus that jhankaar-ish beat is so signature 90s. Even though this soundtrack was by Anand-Milind, it has a certain sound I associate with Nadeem-Shravan - who produced some of my favorite soundtracks of the 90s. Certain parts of it, like the piano interludes and the horns at the end of the interlude remind me a bit of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (Akele Hai To Kya Ghum Hai, specifically) so I guess it is typical of Anand-Milind, but overall there's an ultra romantic Aashiqui hangover to this song.

Also I badly want to go to a party in that room where Govinda is performing. Look at those disco lights! Granted I may not choose to wear a floor length giant puffed sleeves (Anne of Green Gables would be jealous!) frock-gown like Shaheen, but then I am not attending my Catholic high school graduation here. BTW did you know she was Saira Banu's niece? Neither did I! Govinda is in full form here. Sooo rooting for him, especially when he gets decked by Shaheen's real life husband Sumeet Saigal at the end. I want to punch them both too though, cause I'm so jealous of all the romantic loveliness. Hahahaha! Man, I miss the 90s. I know, I'm pretty much the only one. But music like this makes me really nostalgic.

Check it out!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Song of the Day: That Awkward Moment when the video doesn't match the song AT ALL

A local band in Boston has an Ilaiyaraja themed live show coming up and I'm super excited to attend. I was thinking about my favorite Ilaiyaraja songs and this of course is one of the first ones that popped into my head.

I love SO much about this song - the groovy guitar and bass work, the multitude of drum types incorporated, the chord progression, the sudden switch to tabla and back to the western drums, SPB's smooth and dare I say sexy vocals? I know, it's weird, but true in the case of this song.

However I had never seen the video to this song. I heard it in the 90s while preparing for a live show with our band and though I've played this song a hundred times on the keyboards while our male singer Gopal Ven rendered it, I never once saw the video.


I'm not sure what I was expecting. Something hot, sultry and yes maybe a bit kitschy and cheesy because of the era it's from. But definitely not this. WHAT is that weird one-handed slide step they are doing all over these hotel gardens??

I won't laugh too much at the fashion because it's pretty par for the course of this era (though I was envisioning glittery sequins gowns and shiny white boots and capes -- maybe I was watching too many Chiranjeevi videos courtesy of Temple and Heather's Cinema Chaat site). But the overall set up is completely so bizarre compared to the awesome vibe of the song.

Ok I lied. I can't stop snickering at Karthik's outfit.

I still absolutely love love love this song though, so it stays as my song of the day. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Song of the Day: 1,000 watt smile

I know, I know I am woefully behind on posting.

In the meantime, here's a song of the day ... there is SO MUCH that I love about this song. First and foremost, that adorable, 1000 watt grin of Rishi Kapoor's ... I am totally squeeing over him in this song.

Second, the classic R.D. Burman vibe to this song - his signature style - the strong bass, the congoes and almost latin rhythms, the background orchestration! I can always pick out an RDB song and I absolutely love his creative choices. This one has such an interesting melody too.

Third Kishore + Asha = love. I absolutely love this combo. Kishore is particularly in full form here.

Fourth - Neetu. She is so, so fabulous.

Fifth - that crazy red velvet brothel looking ballroom. Where IS this place?? It's like the Lounge in the old Clue game. I keep looking around for Miss Scarlet.

Sixth - totally ridiculous background dancers ... wearing layered gowns and carrying bouquets but the men have moroccan fez hats on ... I don't know. But I love it.

I am sure I could go on and on. But I really can't spend any more time on the computer, so here it is!!

Jeevan Ke Har Mod Pe from Jhoota Kahin Ka (1979)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Song of the Day: For SUMMER TIME!

It's summer and summer means ICE CREAAAAAAM. Which immediately brings to mind this song from 1983's Justice Chowdhary starring Sridevi and Jeetendra. Go ahead ... indulge!

Sorry the blog has been fairly abandoned lately. I will be back with lots more to share - it's just been extremely busy between the two kids, singing in a band, teaching dance class, and now possibly moving. I have some full movie recaps lined up and several song lists brewing in my head. SOOOOOON.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Song of the Day: Anita Raj romances a "special" looking Sanjay Dutt in Zameen Aasmaan

This has been my earworm lately ...

And it's been a repeat offender on my iPod for a while now and when it gets stuck in my head it REALLY gets stuck. It's from the 1984 movie Zameen Aasmaan starring Sanjay Dutt and the lovely Anita Raaj as young lovers, though the story centers around a love triangle with Raakhee, Shashi Kapoor, and Rekha.

What gets me about this song is the bass guitar. It is the absolute heart of this song and I'm obsessed with it. Lata's vocals are flawless of course, and the entire orchestration is lovely, but the bass guitar is what keeps me coming back to this song over and over. There is something about this song that is just so quintessentially R.D. Burman to me. So brilliant!

And doesn't Sanju Baba look really ... ahem ... "special"?