Showing posts with label Vamp. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vamp. Show all posts

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Sexuality in Bollywood: Return of the Vamps

Bipasha Beedi Item Number Bollywood Sexuality Basu Dance
Bipashu Basu "Beedi"
Sexuality always resonated with the vamp in older Bollywood films, rather than the heroine. Since the heroine had limited displays of blatant sexuality, the vamp's purpose was to be the essence of sexuality for the film. However, as females began to posses more sexuality during the 90's and early 2000's, vamps retreated in the back, and there was significant decrease in item numbers. Recently, there has been a reemergence of the vamp in new item numbers and plot lines,when sexual power has been revoked heroine, such as Dabangg and Omkara.

In older Bollywood films, vamps were typically featured briefly  in item numbers where they exposed  quite a bit of their bodies while dancing suggestively to upbeat melodies. These dances were performed classically in the nightclub, like “Piya tu Ab to Aaja” from Caravan [1971], or in a rural setting, like “Mehbooba Mehbooba” from Sholay [1975]. So many popular songs have used the vamp’s sexuality as apparatus to distract to the villains. In Sholay, Helen’s racy dance serves as a diversion to Amjad Khan and his circle of bandits. Khan, a very witty criminal, is momentarily diverted from his path of terror as he watches as scantily dressed Helen dances around a fire before him.
Helen Vamp Caravan Piya Tu Ab To Bollywood Sexuality
Helen in "Piya Tu Ab To Aaja"
Additionally, the vamp rarely plays a significant role in the film. If her role goes beyond her appearance in a song, she is portrayed as a brash woman of loose moral. Like Helen and Aruna Irani in Caravan, the vamp will often pose as competition for the heroine or create additional obstacles in the film. There is a clear distinction between the heroines and the the vamp. The dominance of the heroine over vamp is seen in several films. In Caravan, Aruna Irani, the vamp, relentlessly pursues the hero, Jeetendra. In many songs, Irani is seen dancing aggressively in skin exposing clothing to seduce Jeetendra. Despite her efforts and excessive skin show, Jeetendra is more interested Asha Parekh, the demure, modestly dressed heroine.
Helen, the other dancer in Caravan, falls into another stereotype of the vamp. Helen is having an affair with the Parekh’s husband, and plans to kill her to steal the family fortune. The beginning of “Piya Tu Ab To Aaja”, features Helen dancing in a short red dress desperately pleading for her lover to come to her.  In this particular song, a world of desire is constructed by the suggestive lyrics and male and female panting, paired with Helen’s erotic dancing. Towards the end when Helen’s dress gets caught on a nail, she strips down to a tiny gold sequined top and a mini-skirt with a slit down the side. The closure of the song is especially laden in sexuality when the lights dim and she crouches with a male in a small cage.

In very recent times, the vamp has reemerged to some extent, after somewhat disappearing in the 90's and early 2000's. Trailer after trailer combines with over-sexualized item numbers, featuring ladies’ whose only purpose is to provide pleasure to the male audience. In these movies, if a woman’s character’s existence is extended beyond the number, her role is along the lines as vamps from older cinema.  Songs such as the immensely popular, “Munni Badnaam Hui” from Dabangg [2010], and "Beedi" from Omkara boast women dancing for dozens of drunken men. Parallels can be drawn to these songs and songs from the past dominated by vamps like, “Mehbooba Mehbooba” from Sholay [1975], mentioned earlier. 

Malaika Arora Khan "Munni Badnaam Hui" GIF bollywood sexuality
Malaika Arora Khan "Munni Badnaam Hui"
In Dabangg, Malaika Arora Khan, Munni, performs for the villain and his minions. Similar to a vamp, Khan is seen vigorously shaking her hips and thrusting her chest forward as she mingles among the men. In contrast to Khan, the heroine, Sonakshi Sinha, is minimal in the sensuous thrills she delivers for the male audience. Thus, Sinha is able to attract the hero due to her coy character. Munni’s function in Dabangg is analogous to Helen’s function in Sholay, because they both compensated for the sensuality that the leading ladies did not provide.

It seems as if some Bollywood movies are going backwards. Item songs may have mass appeal, but Bollywood should be able to revert to the fusion of the heroine with the vamp, and have heroines doing the item number instead of a random actress who are inessential to the film itself. With time, Bollywood may be able to find a proper footing in depicting female sexuality.

Look for more of Sexuality in Bollywood Series in the Future.

Article ©BollywoodBegum2013. All Rights Reserved.

BollywoodBegum claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.