Sunday, January 1, 2012

For The Soup Boys

I returned from my two week stay in India last night with just enough time to come home, drop my bags, pour a scotch, and toast the New Year. India was wonderful and maddening. Pictures to come. But while I left most of it behind, I couldn't quite shed this song from my brain. Behold the biggest hit in India currently:

Those who hold contemporary Bollywood music in the same contempt as I do should appreciate what this song has been able to accomplish. Sure, it's ubiquity (practically every car radio, cafe, television, and iPod in India is spinning it) is not unique; this is par for the course for your standard chart-topping, inescapable nache nache Bollywood gaana. But this song wasn't produced by some grease-haired big-wig in Mumbai with a wretched Govinda dub-over in mind. It was written and recorded in less than half an hour by Tamil actor Dhanush, a star in what my cousins informed me is referred to as "Kollywood," India's less popular Tamil movie industry, the very same industry that brought us this masterpiece. Employing drunken "tanglish" (basically just adding a "a" or "u" sound to the ends of English words) Dhanush sings the blues, crooning about a black-hearted woman on a "murderous rampage" (kolaveri), killing love and his happiness. In so doing, Dhanush gives "soup boys" a sad song to toast their shared misery to. It's a silly, lighthearted heartbreak song that might actually break your heart. And its explosive success is a big finger in the eye of every Bollywood producer who has subjected us to their slick over-produced cookie-cutter trash. This "flop song" has launched a new wave in Indian youth culture and music, sweeping up a latent sentiment and dropping it on the shores of the mainstream Indian culture conscience. This song is poetic satire. And Indians could use more irony.

Speaking of Bollywood music however, props where props are due. I love this beautiful ballad from "The Dirty Picture," one of the biggest movies of the year starring the glowing Vidya Balan as Silk Smitha, India's most famous "porn" stars:

Step into the rain:

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