In 1998, Salman Khan famously took off his shirt in the song ‘O o jaane jaana’ (Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya). In the years to come, he would keep doing it with unfailing regularity, so much so that ‘Name a movie where Salman keeps his shirt on’ might be a great quiz question.
The waxed and worked-out, bare-chested Bollywood hero was born as the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan followed suit.
Fourteen years later, actor Arjun Kapoor seems to have added a twist to the trend. The new part to flaunt seems no longer to be the chest, but the belly button. Of course, actresses in Bollywood have been doing it for years. But as Arjun danced to ‘Hua chokra jaawan re’ in Ishaqzaade, showing off perfectly toned abs, the male navel was well and truly in the spotlight.
What led choreographers Rekha and Chinni Prakash to come up with this move?
Chinni says, "Shirtless is passé. Everyone from the Khans to the Kapoors has done it. Habib Faisal’s brief to us was to do something different."
Curiously enough, close on Arjun’s heels, Akshay Kumar also has navel-baring moves in the ‘Dhadang dhang dhang’ song with Sonakshi Sinha in Rowdy Rathore. Chinni Prakash says, "It does look similar. I’m happy when one of my steps becomes popular, but I won’t use the same steps in another dance number anytime soon."
Eye candy for women
Farah Khan, who choreographed Shah Rukh in the shirtless ‘Dard-e-disco’ number from Om Shanti Om, says of the male sex symbol: "Of course, women fantasise about their favourite male stars. I don’t think they want to see all men skimpily dressed, but 95 per cent of women would want to see SRK shirtless. If done aesthetically, it surely works."
Of course, the thing to make sure before showing off the navel is that it must be a navel worth showing! And that takes hard work, if Arjun Kapoor’s now-well-known weight-loss story is anything to go by. Even for the song, says Chinni Prakash, Arjun rehearsed for 25 days. He says, "The song was shot even before Arjun started shooting for the film."
He adds, "In the song, we needed that one step anyone could do at a wedding or in a disco." Of course, before you try it at a nightclub, we recommend hours in the gym and a reality check before the mirror.
The actor says, “Why should men have all the fun? We also have a right to ogle. Shirtless dance numbers have been done a hundred times. We also need some variety. I like this new ‘strutting the navel’ trend.”
Wilson, who shows off her pierced belly button in ‘Imported kamariya…’ from Shanghai, says, “India doesn’t have a Baywatch kind of show. What’s left for women to ogle remains their favourite male actors doing sensual dance numbers or lip locks. We should have more male item numbers.”
The actor says, “Less is more. Instead of a shirtless man, the recent navel-sporting trend in Ishaqzaade or Rowdy Rathore is sexy. We aren’t complaining.”