Feb 12, 2010 (Calcutta Tube): A very brief look at the Bollywood’s item girls. The beautiful actresses like Helen, Bindu, Aruna Irani, Asha Sachdev, Prema Narayan and others ruled as dancers and item girls.
While Bollywood has come a long way in its evolution since the turn of the millennium; the decade has certainly belonged to the ubiquitous item number. The Bollywood producer’s version of a crowd-pleaser, item numbers have allowed stuffy film composers an easy entry into the country’s club scene, and have been a stepping-stone to redoubtable success for a plethora of actresses, dancers and what-have-you, all of whom are quite liberal in their skin-show and tag themselves simply as item girls. But while the phenomenon of item numbers may have become a part of the common lexicon in the new millennium, in no way does this imply that the concept is anything new. Indeed, far before some smart cookie coined the term “item number”, dexterous dancers were making their mark and etching their names for posterity on the canvasses of Bollywood, with acting skills to boot. In a look-back, let’s glances through some of the most famous item numbers and dancers of Bollywood of all time.
Helen– Long before the concept of item dancers was established, the coquettish Helen had etched herself in the Indian cine-goer’s mind as the eternal item girl. As beautiful as her namesake from Troy, Helen was graceful, but never lewd; sexy, but never vulgar. She lent the concept a level of artfulness and sensuality that all the other item dancers who followed her, can only aspire to reach, but never really can. And while she has everything from Sholay’s ‘Mehbooba Mehbooba’ and Caravan’s ‘Piya Tu Ab To Aaja’ to her credit, nothing really matches up to her first big hit, ‘Mera Naam Chin-Chin Choo’ from Shakti Samanta’s 1958 classic, Howrah Bridge, sung to perfection by the legendary Geeta Dutt.
Bindu– Who, but who, could have thought that a traditional, married Gujarati woman could look as sexy as Bindu did in the ‘60s and ‘70s? The campiest and vamp-iest of the lot, Bindu was also the boldest actress through those decades. Although she also showed off her considerable acting skills in films such as Abhimaan and Chaitali, it was her bold image that made her an enduring sex symbol for the ages. Films such as Hawas and Do Raste showcased her as the essential vamp, but without a doubt, it was her portrayal of Mona Darling, in Zanjeer, dancing to ‘Dil Jalon Ka Dil Jalake’ that established Bindu as a legend amongst item girls.
Aruna Irani– Long before she turned into the evil sister-in-law of her ‘80s films and the mother of her ‘90s roles, Aruna Irani was a vampy second lead regular during the ‘70s film circuit. With her sultry eyes and smoldering looks, Aruna Irani was the go-to-girl for many a filmmaker looking to please the front-bencher crowd. Although she initially sought to make her mark as a heroine, eventually, she settled down in her image as a second-rung lead. In films like Anokhi Raat and Buddha Mil Gaya, she excelled in her role as a visual distraction from the story on screen, but it is the Hema Malini-starrer Jyoti, with its chart-busting hit ‘Thoda Resham Lagta Hai’, that Aruna Irani’s more sultry days are remembered for.
The ‘80s Girl- The ‘70s and ‘80s had a bevy of girls looking to fill the space vacated by the top triumvirate of item dancers, Helen, Bindu and Aruna Irani. The range extended from the likes of the coquettish Padma Khanna, to the sexy Asha Sachdev and Prema Narayan, to out-and-out garish Kalpana Iyer and Jayshree. Between them, these beauties had the item song market cornered, and many a famous tracks were picturized on them. If Jayshree had songs like ‘Naach Meri Jaan’ with Mehmood from Main Sunder Hoon, then Asha Sachdev had the suggestive ‘Jis Kaam Ko Dono Aaye Hain’, from the Jitendra-starrer ‘Ek Hi Rasta’, while Kalpana Iyer had the disco genre cornered through the ‘80s and Prema Narayan sizzled her swimming costume with a host of other beauties in ‘Mausam Mastana’ from Satte Pe Satta…
-Nandan Kini/ Sampurn Wire