The Best Item Songs of Bollywood

Ten Best Ever Item Numbers of Bollywood

Some All Time Great Item Numbers of Bollywood
Some All Time Great Item Numbers of Bollywood

What is an ITEM SONG ?

An Item Song or Item Number is a colloquial term developed during the last two decades, specifically for songs in Bollywood movies, which satisfy three characteristics:

(i) The Song is generally a highly extravagant dance, usually shown as a stage performance, but can be choreographed in some other innovative manner too. A lot of effort is put into the extravaganza.

(ii) The Song appears almost out of nowhere, and has very little or nothing at all to do with the main plot of the movie. In fact, it is the extravagant nature of the number that makes it attractive in spite of its having no relation with the main story.

(iii) The Song has something unusual or outrageous about it, which adds to its extravagant nature and makes it (in case of a successful item number) a big attraction in itself. One of the main purposes of the item number is to grab attention and headlines, thereby leading to a lot of publicity for the movie. Outrageous lyrics, sometimes bordering on unacceptability, or a scantily dressed Bollywood diva are the most resorted short cuts for a successful item number in recent times.

Many item numbers have attained popularity far beyond the success of the movie, and thus, come to acquire a genre of its own. Here is a list of the ten best Item Numbers produced by Bollywood till date.

TEZAB (1988)

This number made Madhuri Dixit a star.
This number made Madhuri Dixit a star.

Ek do teen ...

One of the most popular item numbers of Bollywood, it was not just instrumental in bringing phenomenal success to the movie, but also made Madhuri Dixit (seen dancing in this song) an overnight superstar, beginning an era that lasted almost a decade. The lyrics literally mean "one, two, three... " but it was Madhuri's dance, her sensual appeal and her smile that made this number a rage. It was sung by Alka Yagnik and music composed by Laxmikant Pyarela. Lyrics are by Javed Akhtar.

DIL SE (1998)

A unique song - on a moving train top with extremely hummable beats
A unique song - on a moving train top with extremely hummable beats

Chal Chhayya Chhayya .....

This number became a craze mainly because of its innovative concept, showing a dance troupe that included the reigning Bollywood star, Shahrukh Khan and Malaika Arora (the lead dancers) on a moving train top dancing to the tune of A R Rahman's music. The lyrics were written by Gulzar, and the movie was directed by Mani Ratnam, another legend in his own right. The singers are Sukhwinder Singh and Sapna Awasthi.

HOWRAH BRIDGE (1958)

One of the earliest Item Numbers of Bollywood, with the eternal Item Girl of Bollywood: Helen
One of the earliest Item Numbers of Bollywood, with the eternal Item Girl of Bollywood: Helen

Mera Naam Chin Chin Choo...

This number was perhaps more famous because of the song rather than the visuals. It was an outrageous experiment in the era, where music meant classical and lyrics were supposed to be poetry. This extremely melodious experimentation with Western beats and music, composed by O P Nayyar, who pioneered Western music in Bollywood, combined with the singing abilities of Geeta Dutt, and the dancing of Helen - who remained the most sought after dancer of Bollywood for next three decades, made it one of the earliest item numbers of Bollywood - long before the term was coined.

KHALNAYAK (1993)

The Bold Item Number that went on to break many taboos amid a lot of controversy
The Bold Item Number that went on to break many taboos amid a lot of controversy

Choli ke peechhe kya hai....

One of the most sensational and controversial item numbers of Bollywood. It was highly successful in achieving both popularity and notoriety and thereby attracting visitors to the movie. Its success lay as much in the controversy generated by its lyrics, (which literally means, "What is behind the blouse ..." ) as in the extraordinary choreography centered around Madhuri Dixit, and some peppy Rajasthani folk music and dance. The movie was directed by Subhash Ghai, music composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal and the singers are Alka Yagnik and Ila Arun.

INKAAR (1977)

Another sensuous Item Number from Helen: A titillating Folk Dance with unconventional lyrics
Another sensuous Item Number from Helen: A titillating Folk Dance with unconventional lyrics

O Mungda Mungda.....

Another innovative item number with a touch of countryside dance and folk music, carried on by the perennial item girl of Bollywood, Helen. Bollywood version of Marathi-Goan folk music coupled with some bold and creative dancing moves set in a rural countryside bar. One of the earliest item numbers, it is still remembered for the dancing skills of Helen and the singing of Usha Mangeshkar. The music is by Rajesh Roshan, and the movie was directed by Raj N Sippy. The choreography was bold by the standards of those days and attracted considerable attention.

MOHRA (1994)

An item number which also catalyzed the popularity of Sufi music in Bollywood
An item number which also catalyzed the popularity of Sufi music in Bollywood

Tu cheez badi hai mast mast....

.

A great number from the Movie Mohra, directed by Rajiv Rai with music composed by Viju Shah. It was popular as much because of its peppy and melodious music, which were an innovative mix of Sufi style singing set on Western beats and rhythm. The attractive dancing choreography with Raveena Tondon and Akshay Kumar (lead dancers) helped it attain its objectives of attracting viewers. Singers are Udit Narayan and Kavita Krishnamurthi.

BUNTY AUR BABLI (2005)

An Item Number banking on the beauty of Aiswarya Rai along with some great music
An Item Number banking on the beauty of Aiswarya Rai along with some great music

Kajrare ... kajrare .....

One of the most popular item numbers of all times, it made the concept of item number itself extremely popular in Bollywood. A very well executed piece of choreography, bordering on scandal, as it got the father son duo of Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan together in a raunchy number. The highlight, of course, was Aishwarya Rai (the lead dancer), one of the most beautiful actors (female) in Bollywood who was also the Miss World in 1994. Movie was directed by Shad Ali and music composed by Shankar Ahsan Loy. Singers are Alish Chenoi and Shankar Mahadevan.

CARAVAN (1971)

One of the greatest ever song dances of Bollywood
One of the greatest ever song dances of Bollywood

Piya tu ab to aaja....

One of the all time best song dances of Bollywood that has three legends at their best. The extremely sensuous piece of dance drama was performed by Helen, who had monopolized such dancing during those days. The equally impressive music is by R D Burman that makes the audio itself great and equally dramatic. This number is also a tribute to the singing abilities of Asha Bhonsle, who had virtually acted by her voice in this song. The three greats are equally complimented by Nasir Hussain, who directed the movie and Majrooh Sultanpuri who wrote the lyrics.

BOMBAY (1995)

A great Item Number with excellent music, great choreography and two Bollywood divas
A great Item Number with excellent music, great choreography and two Bollywood divas

Hamma .. hamma .....

Another successful item number, with more artistic content and less on outrageous components. It had great music by A R Rahman, and excellent choreography and dances with Sonali Bendre as the Item Girl. The extremely innovative theme that used the number to depict the sensual interactions between the two lead protagonists are almost good enough to convince viewers that this was a regular song interwoven in the main plot and not just another item number. Directed by Mani Ratnam and sung by Remo.

DABBANG (2010)

One of the latest Item Numbers to have become a rage, with very hummable music
One of the latest Item Numbers to have become a rage, with very hummable music

Munni badnaam hui, darling tere liye...

One of the latest item numbers to have breached earlier records of popularity, thanks largely to some outrageous lyrics written by Lalit Pandit, some great hummable music by Lalit Pandit and Sajid Wajib and dancing that has now come to be accepted as a standard in its own within Bollywood, by Mallaika and Salmaan Khan. It was and remains an outrage with its share of controversies and criticism, generally targeted as part of item number strategy. Singers are Aishwarya and Mamta Sharma. Movie is directed by Abhinav Kashyap.

THE BEST EVER ITEM NUMBER OF BOLLYWOOD

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© 2012 V Kumar

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Comments 1 comment

Rohit karvekar 4 years ago from Loni kalbhor,Pune

Nice v kumal...:)

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