A jazz-esque song with a very retro Kareena Kapoor grooving to it — that is what gets one’s attention when Muskaanein jhooti hain is playing on TV. But eventually, it is Suman Sridhar’s seductive voice that takes over. Composed by Ram Sampath, this isn’t production house Excel Entertainment’s first attempt at reviving cabaret —Mehki Mehki in 2011’s Game — picturised on Sarah Jane Dias didn’t fare well.
Monica o my darling, Caravan
Picturised on Bollywood’s most successful and popular dancing queen, Helen, the song is also one of the most memorable numbers composed by RD Burman and sung by Asha Bhosle. Helen’s uninhibited performance in the song was a mix of sensuousness and passion. The song also has a poor remix version in the 2010 film Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai.
Husn ke lakhon rang, Johnny Mera Naam
Shot with one of the lesser-known item girls of Bollywood, Padma Khanna, the song has lyrics considerably bold for that time. But the music and Khanna’s moves — both cute and fun, mostly using the twist of the 1960s and made it extremely palatable. Those who remember the video will recount how being a bikini babe in those days wasn’t such a big deal as it is today.
Yeh Zindagi Hai Ek Jua, Zindagi Ek Jua
Perhaps the least sensuous of all the cabaret songs in Bollywood, this one is picturised on Madhuri Dixit. The 1990s saw a considerable decline of cabaret numbers and the only reason one remembers this one is for Madhuri’s costume that was reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn’s from My Fair Lady. The trend returned in early 2000, with songs such as Mahi Vay in Kaante and Saaki Saaki in Musafir, but by then, cabaret had well been replaced by item songs.
Jawaani jaaneman, Namak Halal
It is hard to forget the golden shimmer of the dress that Parveen Babi wore in this song, with Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor watching on. The dance was minimalistic in comparison to the cabaret songs shot in the 1960s, but Babi’s eyes exuded all the passion of a cabaret dancer.
Duniya mein logon ko, Apna Desh
At a time when her contemporaries, such as Asha Parekh and Waheeda Rehman, were choosing to portray themselves as chastity queens, Mumtaz emerged as an actresses who could challenge designated vamps like Helen, Bindu and so on on the dance floor. She did several cabaret numbers, without shying away from the costumes or the dance moves. This song from Apna Desh opposite Rajesh Khanna, however, is the most popular as much for the dance as for the actors’ eclectic looks.