In the sex comedy Brahman Naman (2016), a group of hormonally charged quizzers growing up in Bengaluru in the 1980s pant at the mere sight of women. Their jaws drop and they begin to mime songs.
In a Hindi sex comedy, song and dance routines are typically inserted as breaks from the goings-on. Brahman Naman director Q and writer Naman Ramachandran invert the routine. Instead of a full-blown dance number, the actors sing Rod Stewart’s “Infatuation”, a song that truly expresses what is going on in their heads and adds to the film’s glib humour.
Songs in sex comedies are usually forcibly tacked onto the scripts and are generally not funny at all. Only a handful of sex comedies have been made in which the song’s strategic placement actually serves a purpose.
Among the exceptions is Manorajan (1974), actor Shammi Kapoor’s directorial debut and an adaptation of the musical Irma La Douce. The plot centres around constable Ratan (Sanjeev Kapoor), who is assigned patrol duty at a red-light area where he meets the prostitute Nisha (Zeenat Aman). The film is a comedy of manners involving sex and morality, and the songs endorse the scenes.
In “Dulhan Maike Chali”, the prostitutes are being taken to the police station in a van. They remind Ratan that rather than targetting the agents of love, they should arrest those who spread sadness. The satirical lyrics by Anand Bakshi take a sweet turn with RD Burman’s music.
“Goyake Chunanche” an odd mix of the Urdu words as if and therefore, takes place at a party where the lead pair let their hair down. In “Aaya Hoon Main”, Ratan dreams of rescuing Nisha from her disreputable profession and making a decent woman out of her. “Chori Chori Sola Singar” is filmed on Aman in a shower without fussing about the towel. She is shown to be ecstatic at having found her lover at last. All tracks are relevant to the plot and nudge the plot forward.
In Basu Chatterjee’s Shaukeen (1982), three men in their sixties (Ashok Kumar, Utpal Dutt, AK Hangal) chase the young and nubile Anita (Rati Agnihotri). The film begins with Kishore Kumar singing “Jab Bhi Koi Kangana Bole”, over the opening credits, setting the mood for the film. It is followed by Suresh Wadkar singing a song for the road, “Wahin Chale Mere Dil”, when the three men set out on a trip to Goa, aided by their driver Ravi (Mithun Chakraborty). They meet Anita at a nightclub where she serenades them with the light disco number “Suhani Shaam Aayi Hai”. So far, so good, until the film was remade as The Shaukeens (2014). RD Burman’s lilting tunes were replaced by songs like “Manali Trance” by Yo Yo Honey Singh and “Ishq Kutta Hai” (Love is a dog) sung by Mika Singh for composer Vikram Negi.
Manorajan and Shaukeen remain early experiments in a genre that has been defined in Hindi cinema by Masti (2004) and Kyaa Kool Hai Hum (2005). These sex comedies have spawned sequels and inspired other such films as Mastizaade (2016) and Kuch Kuch Locha Hai (2015). At the core of all their plots are one or many unattainable and sultry women who are chased by lecherous men.
How does “Paani Wala Dance” from Kuch Kuch Locha Hai, apart from sounding incongruous, redeem its screen time other than showcasing the curves of its cavorting heroine? Songs in sex comedies do not go beyond objectifying its characters. The pun in “Hor Nach” (Mastizaade) is explicit. The women appear to be willing participants in their objectification. Gauhar Khan urges her co-dancers Aftab Shivdasani and Tusshar Kapoor to kiss her slippery waist in “Jawaani Le Doobi” (Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3, 2016), which is replete with double entendres going south. The title tracks of Grand Masti (2013) and Kya Kool Hain Hum (2005) trumpet their obnoxiously loud themes.
Hunterrr (2015) has Bappi Lahiri sing “Hunter 303”, a devilishly campy number channelling the film’s unbounded sexual energy, but the song is not smartly incorporated into the narrative. Instead, the punning “Thaali Hai Khaali”, which expresses the feelings of sexually needy lead character Mandar Ponkshe (Gulshan Devaiah), puts his thoughts into words. “Chahe baasi roti ho, namak thoda thoons do” (Even if it’s stale bread, stuff it with salt), writes Swanand Kirkire to Khamosh Shah’s music.
Among the recent sex comedies, Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 has three tracks, including “Oh Boy” and “House Party”, filmed at a beach and a swimming pool respectively. The lyrics of both songs stress on having a good time. In “Oh Boy”, the girl establishes her credentials as a “crazy kameeni” (crazy rascal) and implies that she wants to use the boy as a “soft toy”.
In the July 15 release Great Grand Masti, “Lipstick Laga Ke” features the singer Shaan deconstructing a woman’s body with the words, “Apple jaisi booty teri, legs complimentary teri, candle jaise lips tere, haalat senty senty meri” (Your derriere is shaped like an apple, your legs are complimentary, your lips are like candlewax, it makes me sentimental). How can legs be complimentary? Did he mail-order a humanoid?
The song is written by Sameer Anjaan and the music is by the band Superbia. “I Wanna Tera Ishq”, “Resham Ka Rumaal” and “Teri Kamar Ko” are all focused on a woman’s bare midriff. This navel gazing isn’t quite art.