Wednesday, November 23, 2011

pag ghungroo bandh Meera naachi thi

Which means, more or less, "Meera danced all night with her anklets tinkling."  This seems to be something of a traditional song, which got a peppy arrangement (not to mention being sung by the great Kishore Kumar) for the 1982 Amitabh Bachchan vehicle, Namak Halaal


I've watched the beginning of this movie.  AB is something of a country bumpkin whose grandfather sends him to the city to get a job, meet a nice girl, etc.  A cousin, or friend of a friend or such, takes him under his wing, and one night, brings him to a nightclub.  Bumpkin AB is oohing and aahing over the place, but looks like something of a joke:  he's wearing his country Sunday best, which is a traditional outfit topped with a pink turban.  Most of the city guys are wearing Western suits.  The nightclub singer is too drunk to sing, so AB steps up.

This song was performed on Indian Idol (yes, really), by a front-runner named Swaroop.  Although Swaroop wore a turban on the several segments I watched, this pink one is most likely a tribute to AB in the film.  He has a lovely voice and did quite well:


But where I first noticed this song was in a greatest-hits medley in the most recent AB film, Bbuddah Hoga Tera Baap.  The title translates somewhere along the lines of "Your Father's an Old Man!". in the sense that the speaker has been called an old man and feels he is too young to be called that.  Which is a running joke in the movie:  various people in the movie call Vijuu "Bhuddah" (kind of equal to "old-timer"), which always pisses him off.

Vijuu is a retired hit man, living in Paris, who is called back to India to do one last job.  About 20 minutes into the movie, he goes into his old bar and takes a seat.  The current crop of gangsters takes exception to this, and Vijuu explains, rather poetically (the Hindi seems to rhyme), that he and Mumbai grew up together, they laughed, they sang, and now all of the youngsters are trying to copy his style."  He asks the gangsters, "Wanna see?" and they say, yes.  Vijuu whistles for the beautiful girls to be sent in, and launches into a dance and medley of AB's greatest hits -- this time, sung by AB and JrB (Abishek, who does the rap parts).  "Pag ghungroo" is one of them.

I had to do a little digging here, since I was aware that these were some of AB's old songs; I had to figure out/look up the song names first, and then try to find the earlier versions.  The ones I like best are "Pag Ghungroo" and "Kaike Paan Banaraswala."  The latter is from the 1978 version of Don (which was remade in 2004, I think, with Shah Rukh Khan in the lead role.)  As far as I can make out/remember (I saw the newer version of Don maybe a year ago, and am waiting for a subtitled copy of the original), AB plays two role:  Don, the gangster, and yet another bumpkin who is an exact double for Don.  As best I can figure it, the bumpkin gets drunk, someone offers him some betel leaf, the betel leaf peps him right up, and he sings a song about it:


So here's the medley from Bbuddah Hoga Tera Baap.  This movie opened this past July, so AB was maybe 68 when he filmed it, and you can see he doesn't have quite what he had five years earlier as far as dancing.  The clothing is awful, of course, and he looks a little heavier around the middle.  But the medley is really fabulous, and he's doing his own singing.  "Kaike Paan Banaraswala" is the first song, and "Pag Ghungroo" is maybe halfway through.


I guess I have learned quite a bit about Indian film in these past 3-4 weeks.  Of course, I started with Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, and then branched out with the actors from that film (mostly AB and Shah Rukh Khan).  I've also become familiar with some of the women stars:  Preity Zinta, Rani Mukarjee, Kareena Kapoor, and Kajol.  I love watching Kajol dance because she has a lovely smile and is the best I've seen so far when it comes to the traditional hand/neck/shoulder moves.  I've also been impressed by a couple of the other popular male stars, like Salman Khan (no relation) and Sonu Sood.  I watch a lot of clips on YouTube, although many of them, unfortunately, don't have English subtitles.  I've been searching out Indian movies with English subtitles, which is a little harder with the older movies.  Had to order the old Don and Yaarana from eBay. 

Netflix has Yaarana, and I started watching it, but the subtitles were about three lines after the line they translated, which made it fairly confusing and impossible.  Which really bothered me, since it was clear that the plot was crazily convoluted and that AB actually plays a guy who becomes a popular singer, so there's lots of singing and dancing.  The movie's from 1981, so it's young handsome AB rather than old handsome AB.  Handsome forever, that guy.

I did finally figure out where that photo came from, the one of older AB dressed like Carlos Santana, with long hair and a hat and all kinds of southwestern (US) jewelry.  It's a special appearance he did as a singer and dancer under the opening titles of Abishek's film Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, which doesn't seem to have done well and I can't say I love the song.  But here it is:

I realize I've already posted the "Go Meera Go" remix from Bhudda Hoga Tera Baap, but it's worth rewatching, especially after seeing some of the source material.  AB still does throw off some sparks.

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