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Are item songs on their way out?

Several top actors — Sonakshi Sinha, Shraddha Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Vidya Balan, Priyanka Chopra, among others — have done special numbers in films in recent past. Industry experts, however, feel that item songs are losing steam, and are not effective as publicity tools.

bollywood Updated: Dec 30, 2014 13:44 IST
Anirban Das
Anirban Das
Hindustan Times
Shraddha Kapoor,Katrina Kaif,Kareena Kapoor

Last week, it was reported that Kareena Kapoor Khan will be doing an item song in film-maker Karan Johar’s next, starring Akshay Kumar and Sidharth Malhotra.

Apart from Kareena, nearly every other A-list female actor — including Sonakshi Sinha, Shraddha Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Vidya Balan and Priyanka Chopra, among others — has done such special numbers in films.

However, industry experts now feel that item songs are losing steam, and are not as effective as publicity tools as they used to be.

Publicity stunt

Film-makers believe that such songs are announced to promote the film, but a few feel that they don’t always work. "Announcing a collaboration with a big star for an item song — even before people know about the film’s subject — is meaningless publicity," says director Anees Bazmee, who himself had an item song in Ready (2011) featuring Zarine Khan.

Kareena in a still from Fevicol Se, an item song from Dabangg 2.

However, Bazmee also points out that it makes more sense if a star is roped in to do an item song. "People won’t bother if a regular artiste does one. But when a star is engaged, the song becomes the talking point and a potential marketing tool."

Lack of content?

Publicity is not the only motive behind such dance numbers. Trade experts feel that sometimes lack of quality content creates the requirement for an item number in a film. "When a film-maker does not have much to promote a film, such an announcement is made. Interestingly, some film-makers, after shooting the song, struggle to find an appropriate space to add it in the film, and eventually play it during the rolling credits," says trade expert Vinod Mirani.

Katrina Kaif performed on Chikni Chameli for Karan Johar's Agneepath.

At times, the fan following of the person who is doing the item number, is also kept in mind to boost footfalls in theatres. Director Amit Sharma adds that in such a situation, the inclusion of an item number is announced before the film’s release in an effort to boost business. "Big stars have huge fan following, and you never know how many fans of that particular artiste turn up in theatres just for the song," he says.

Done to death

Since adding item songs to a film is not a new trend, do people really look forward to them anymore? "No. That’s the reason why so many big films are failing to succeed at the box office even if they have such songs. It has been overdone and does not excite the audiences. It is an illogical and senseless publicity effort," says Mirani.

Sonakshi Sinha made a special apearance for Akshay Kumar's Boss.

Taking forward from Mirani’s stance, Sharma believes that the trend will die out. "I believe it peaked with Kajra Re (Bunty Aur Babli; 2005). Then it became a trend, and now it is overdone. Soon it will be gone," he says.

Perks for actors

Till the trend lasts, it will benefit the actors. "Even if the song fails to help the film at the box office, actors can demand huge amounts to perform the song at events," says trade expert Komal Nahta.

First Published: Dec 30, 2014 13:16 IST