Ask Auntyji: on questionable Bollywood lyrics

Auntyji casts a humorous look at what's behind the controversial lyrics in Bollywood songs

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Dear Auntyji

There’s been much chatter this month about actress Samantha Ruth Prabhu’s dance to the song Oa Antava. It’s a song supposed to call men out for sleazy behaviour, but is so raunchy that it might as well be encouraging that behaviour.

Bollywood songs have some peculiar lyrics. Even the songs from the ‘50s and ‘60s have lyrics that in my mind are questionable. For example, Motiyon ki ladi hoon mai, sundar pari hoon main, a song from the old film Loafer. This song is just one example of the many songs where the girl sings about her beauty. I don’t know any girl who talks in this manner, let along sing like this. And I will admit that when a song is beautiful, a man can sing it to a girl in real life. My husband used to sing Chaundvin ka chand to me in college and it was totally natural. But I certainly didn’t sing Husn hai suhana to him.

Why do we have such odd Bollywood songs where a girl blatantly sings about her charms?

Auntyji says

Arre meri gulabo, meri chumchum, meri jalebi, what a wonderful thought you have had. I’m delighted that you chose to share this with me.

Yes I have seen the Oo Antava clip, and no I am not a fan, even though I do not understand the lyrics.

There are two things that I want to tell you today.

So, here is the reason why we have such weirdness in Bollywood lyrics – where the girl sings about herself in the third person and highlights her charms in a particularly jarring manner. It’s because nearly all of Bollywood lyricists are men, and it’s therefore the male gaze that’s being translated into lyrics that’s then perversely voiced by the female.

Let me break it down. The male lyricist looks at the girl and thinks, Motiyon ki ladi, sundar pari, roop, jawaani, husn se bhari, etc etc and then makes it into a song, and then has the girl sing it. Could there be anything more perverted?

The solution to this is to have more female lyricists, or educate our male lyricists not to objectify women the way they do.

The second thing I wanted to say is this.

So your hubby sang Chaudhvin ka chand to you. What else did he sing? And are you sure you didn’t feel the need to respond with some feisty song in return? The one song you could have sung in return, just to even things out, could have been Hungama ho gaya from Anhonee.

LISTEN: Indian Link Radio’s Charuta Joshi chats with contemporary Bollywood lyricists

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