With over 250 item songs in 170 Bhojpuri films to her credit, Seema Singh has approached the Guinness Book of World Records to get her name covered in gold. She, along with Sambhavana Seth, Rinku Ghosh, Kalpana, Pakhi Hegde and others, is the crowd-puller in an industry where item numbers form the bedrock of entertainment. “Yeh Bhojpuri filmon ki banawat mein hai (This is in the very grain of Bhojpuri cinema),” says film activist Avinash. “It’s the norm, the way our expectations of cinema are shaped; nothing else works here,” agrees filmmaker Nitin Chandra. So it is that a Bhojpuri film has to have at least two item songs; just one won’t do. This, of course, with full-blown cleavage on display, says Chandra. There is no limit to the item songs though; a single film can sometimes have as many as five to six item songs, a boast carried proudly on the film’s posters. You only have to go to YouTube and key in ‘Bhojpuri’ and a whole universe of “hot Bhojpuri videos” opens up: from Meri jawani ka tapta badan to Lai le mazaa babu jawani ke; Saiyyan bedardi maane na batiyan; Kavna tare chumma raat lehu; Raat mere Kallu chupke se aila, and so on.
The item song avalanche, according to Avinash, perhaps has something to do with the blue-collar, working class core audience of Bhojpuri cinema. Chandra, whose Deswa was a “hatke” (different) film on youth unrest, had to put in a mandatory item song, though he tried to keep it decent and integral to the narrative. “The distributors insist on it,” he says. The film was a rare one in Bhojpuri to be selected for the prestigious Indian panorama at IFFI in Goa. However, it is yet to find commercial release in the heartland. Chandra will perhaps have to add a few more item songs.
This is not sexy. This is comedic gold.
I once heard a Bhojpuri song which had this hookline - Khol de humra choli ke ,haaye button.
The worship of the female physique is a reason for their being treated like Gods by the viewing public.
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