Geeta Dutta sang Mera naam Chin Chin Chu…hello Mr, how do you do? for Howrah Bridge a good fifty years ago. And a monocle-sporting Amitabh Bachchan bursting out of eggshells, exclaiming his name was Anthony Gonsalves beat every new-age dhinchak song that goes Show me your jalwa, and You are my mind-blowing mahiya by two decades.
That Bollywood numbers have been peppered with English much before the yuppies could claim credit for anglicising their music is beyond doubt.
In Lagaan, Vasundhara Das sang a long, shrill verse about roses pouting ‘their scarlet mouths while offering a kiss’ in O Rey Chhori. And the 2006 movie Jaan-e-mann had a song called ‘ Humko maloom hai’ in which the word ‘future’ — not kalor kismet— was slipped in most breezily, and thus went: Sirf do hi mahine hai seh lo agar mera FUTURE hai teri kasam mera FUTURE hai jismein piya.
Back in the ’70s, Indi and Punjabi pop was inconceivable. Which is why the super-versatile Sunidhi Chauhan singing Ae hip-hopper mujhe pyar toh kar, as also the techno-English-Punjabi mix ke indi pump up the jam—from the movie Partner, is hugely popular at nightspots, but makes old-timers cringe with disdain.
Last year’s thriller Johnny Gaddaar had the catchy Hindi-English track Got to move your body tonight that was downloaded with a mad frenzy. Although the one youth anthem that ruled the charts for a week too many was You are my sonia from Karan Johar’s neverending family saga K3G.
Kareena ‘Poo’ Kapoor grooving to the song in her two-piece red-sequined number wasn’t less of a rage. And for the ultimate in Bollywood’s Hinglish poetry, check out this number from Rock Dancer: You are my chicken fry/You are my fish fry/Kabhi na kehna kudiye bye bye bye.
For better or verse, English is here to stay in Bollywood.