Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bollywood Blues: Sheila Ki Jawani

Everyone may not love Bollywood but everyone knows of it. Even those of you who are rolling your eyes at the mention of the B-word know, at the very least, the painful rendition of Jai Ho by the Pussy Cat Dolls that you can name drop at parties when BTown comes up.

I listen to Bollywood music occassionally (only when I'm breathing, as King Khan said to Aish in Devdas) but, like with my BTown movie selection, I am selective with the music. The latest hit song, Sheila ki Jawani, is everything I hate about Hindi film music: the insertion of cheesy English lyrics among the Hindi, the gratuitous chest thrusts to make up for the lead actress's inability to dance, the  the lack of Shah Rukh Khan, the presence of Akshay Kumar. Yet this song is persistent. It pervaded my entire Karachi trip and continues to infest my California life.

Instance One: Every morning at breakfast, Uncle 2 blasted Bollywood videos as he passed me a steaming cup of lemongrass tea. Sheila was always played.

Instance Two: At the beach picnic, two Dad-aged men sang the song's chorus while dealing out cards in the hut. They got as far as the first line: "Sheila, Sheila ki Jawani"...then one asked the other, "What's the next line?" but neither knew. I wish I'd had the guts to tell them what it was, "I'm too sexy for you". They probably would have sung it.

Instances Three: Cuz 1's bro-in-law held Nephew in his arms and sang him this song in a perfect falsetto.

Instance Four: Nephew began singing the song, his two-year-old version sounding more like "Shee-a, Shee-a...wa-wee..."

Instance Five: I dreamed I was Sheila ki Jawani and was doing the dance that, in my waking hours, throws out my back.

Instance Six: Back in California for less than 48 hours, I found myself doing lunges and squats to the song during my ICC Bollywood workout. Everyone smiled and sang along as they squatted lower and lower.

Even me. I guess there really ain't nobody like Sheila.

But that's another quality of Bollywood (and all overplayed pop music worldwide): eventually, it wins.