Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Aaja Aaja Main Huin Pyar Tera

Introducing my favorite Bollywood actor - Shammi Kapoor! Also known as "the Indian Elvis Presley," he cultivated a distinctly Westernized, urban, hip persona, in contrast to the romanticized agrarian and traditional values portrayed by most male stars of the time. He was a huge star in the '60s, and with his youthful, hyperactive intensity, he took over the role of the romantic playboy like no other. As the Official Shammi Kapoor Fan Club puts it, "To watch him tease the heroine was much like observing an overgrown pup romping and frolicking in a bed of prized roses." Shammi's songs were often performed by the playback singer Mohammed Rafi, who was a friend of Shammi's and worked to imitate the vocal style of early Western rock singers like Elvis.

This crazy spasmodic dance sequence is from the film Teesri Manzil, from 1966, which actually has quite a few excellent dance numbers. Shammi's manic, broadly expressive moves are on full display in this deranged, twitch-filled choreography. I have to confess that I have actually watched this movie countless times in an attempt to incorporate Shammi's unique and brilliant moves into my own dance repertoire.

You may have noticed from the bit of dialog at the beginning of the clip that this is supposed to take place in a "rock and roll club," and while the band's music certainly has a strong Western pop influence, their outfits are just confusing... the only description that even sort of fits is that they look they're supposed to be Robin Hood's suave cousins.

Anyway, after several minutes of Shammi cavorting around the club, his lady friend, Asha Parekh, decides it's time for a twitchy dance showdown, and man does she have some tricks up her sleeveless top. By the way, don't get any ideas - that top is the product of advanced Bollywood engineering efforts to produce the most formless and unenticing shape possible. But that's okay, because with Asha, it's all about the eyes, and in this case, her seduction strategy seems to be to induce epilepsy in her victims by fluttering her eyelids at theoretically impossible speeds. This capability, along with some of her jerkier dance moves, make me suspect that Asha Parekh is, in fact, a robot. All I can say is, better not cross her, because she's got a serious posse of backup dancers who clearly have the ability to travel into the future to purchase tights from American Apparel.

Somehow, the excitement just keeps on building, and the contagious epileptic fit dance spreads to the rest of the club! In a final flurry of fast cuts, we see a few token white patrons, several dancers who clearly need either immediate medical attention or an exorcism, and most exciting of all, the guitar-cam, which shows us — for no conceivable reason — the view through the sound hole of the guitar! Finally, the fat lady collapses, and it's all over. I absolutely love it.


amityb said...

Noooooo. I can't watch it, the video is no longer available!!!

I must see this, you must make it happen.

Also, have you seen the M.I.A. cover of the song Jimmy from The Disco Dancer? I think I may blog about it. Thoughts?

gjg said...

That's weird, the video's still working for me... maybe it was just a temporary problem. You gotta see it.

That M.I.A. song is pretty weird. I think I kind of prefer the original though:

Here's another blog with some info on the M.I.A. version (and a helpful plot synopsis for Disco Dancer):

gjg said...

oops, didn't do the links right:
the original jimmy song

that blog post

art2liv4 said...

I had a compilation videotape of Asha & Rafi songs, and the ones from this film (Teensri Manzil) fascinated me so much that I ended up buying a DVD of the film (which wasn't available from Netflix at that time). I, too, was inspired to try and copy Shammi's dance moves. Helen was also pretty great in it (although she's not featured in this clip); it was one of the films in which she wore a blond wig.