V Kumar has been writing on Bollywood movies and music for several years, highlighting perspectives that are often missed out or ignored.
Greatest Choreographed Songs of Bollywood
While theatrical choregraphy is all about dance movements, its sequencing and synchronization, cinematic choreography can actually be much more than that. An essential aspect of cine-choreography is to weave the choreographed number in a way that it becomes a part and parcel of the main plot and story rather than being an isolated Item Number.
Greatest showmen of Bollywood have all been adept in the art of using well choreographed songs that are an attraction in themselves, as a means of describing and communicating something as abstract as love, anxiety or frustration in a manner that justifies the genius underlying the greatest forms of all art and literature. In their hands, choreography becomes not only a means of art, but also a means of expression ... to be used to communicate what one cannot with words or even with music!
Here are the ten best choreographed songs in nearly a century of Bollywood's history. These great gems tell us something about the directors who showcased them, the singers and actors who turned their concepts into reality, and finally, the choreographers and dance directors, who conceived and created them. They also tell us the evolving technical sophistication of Bollywood while highlighting that the first prerequisite of a great number will always be great music !!!
movie: GUIDE (1965)
Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna....
The movie, Guide, has some great dance songs with very high standards of choreography, yet, it is this number that stands out by its spontaneity and an extremely refreshing energy that fits in with the story as if it was always a part of it. Rosi (played by Waheeda Rahman), married to an older man in a failed marriage, gets a new lease of life in this trip to the city, and enjoying with a child like exuberance, enters into spontaneous bursts of dancing, her passion, as her tourist guide (played by Dev Anand) watches with amusement and at times, concern. It is in this interaction, that their love will blossom and transform both their lives. The credit for this great number goes primarily to the Director, Vijay Anand, and his dance directors, Sohanlal and Hiralal. The music is composed by S D Burman, voiced by Lata Mangeshkar and lyrics written by Shailendra.
movie: HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM (1999)
Aankhon ki gustakhiyan maaf ho ...
This movie has some of the best ever choreographed numbers, but among them, this number stands out as the best dance drama, that is a tale of love in itself. There is dancing of course, but that goes aside the drama, which never, even for a maoment, loses it dominance on the scree. The actors, Aishwarya Rai and Salman Khan have put in a great performance in this number choregraphed by Saroj Khan and Natbar Maharana, but the real credit must be reserved for the Director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The music of Ismail Darbar is simply fabulous and the singers, Kumar Sanu and Kavita Krishnamurthi have done full justice to it. Lyrics were written by Mehboob.
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moie: KHALNAYAK (1993)
Choli ke peechhe kya hai ....
This number is the only item number in this list, and the reason it finds place here, is because in spite of being a piece of great showmanship with sensationalist lyrics that were almost considered vulgar at the time, it is still an important part of the plot, as the gorgeous female cop (played by Madhuri Dixit) intices the fugitive criminal (played by Sanjay Dutt) with her dancing and gestures. This number, choreographed by Saroj Khan with assistance from Usha Nagpal and Bhupendra, must be a candidate for being the best ever choreographed song of Bollywood, thanks to the excellent fusion of Rajasthani folk with Bollywood dance that it achieves.It also exemplifies the showmanship of Subhash Ghai, the Director, while its excellent music is composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal. Singers are Alka Yagnik and Ila Arun while the lyrics were written by Anand Bakhshi.
movie: AWAARA (1952)
Ghar aya mera pardesi ....
If someone wants to know why Raj Kapoor is called the Greatest showman of Bollywood, this is the number to watch. What he could do in 1952 with limited technology and resources, remains unmatched over six decades. This dream sequence is a dance drama depicting the hell of criminal world in which the hero (played by Raj Kapoor) is caught and from where he strives at finding the heaven with the help of his lover (played by Nargis). This attractive, abstract and meaningful dance sequence was directed by Madame Simkie, Krishna Kumar and Om Parkash. Lata Mangehkar's voice is musical and Shailendra's words fully complement the music composed by Shankar Jaikishan.
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movie: JOHNY MERA NAAM (1970)
Pal bhar ke liye koi hamein pyar kar le ....
Even without a dancing sequence, this musical number, directed by Vijay Anand is among the best ever choreographed songs of Bollywood. What makes it really great is its innovative conceptualization. Part of a suspense thriller, this number depicts the firming up of a bond of love that will continue to thrive in spite of all the mistrusts and suspicions that are enshrined in the melodramatic plot. The persistent protagonist (played by Dev Anand) wooes her love (played by Hema Malini) through the endless number of windows of all sizes and designs, with a melodious song on his lips, composed by Kalyanji Anandji, sung by Kishore Kumar and written by Indeevar, and finally wins with his persistence.
movie: RANGEELA (1995)
Kya kare kya na kare ...
This number has two great maverick geniuses of contemporay Bollywood working behind it, Aamir Khan (the lead actor in this number) and Ram Gopal Verma, the Director. It is their touch that makes this frequently repeated gym dance number one of the best ever of Bollywood. This of course, does not take away anything from the Choreographers, Ahmed Khan, Saroj Khan and Remo, nor does it undermine the great music composed by A R Rahman, with lyrics written by Mehboob and sung to perfection by Udit Narayan. This number, seemingly inspired from the Gym Mambo of West Side Story (Hollywood, 1961), is also great because in the context of the plot, it denotes the hesitance of the hero in proposing to the heroine (played by Urmila Matondkar) and his restlessness and frustration at his own inability to express his love. Choreography is at its best when it can succesfully express even such abstract dlilemmas.
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movie: CARAVAN (1971)
Dilbar dil se pyare ...
This song belongs to two ladies. The first of course, is the singer, Lata Mangeshkar, who has sung this number with an exceptional energy, but it is the second lady, Aruna Irani, who has performed this number with an uninhibited skill and passion that surely deserved much more than the Best Filmfare Supporting Actress Award that she won from it. Her expression of the passionate obsessive love for the hero (played by Jeetendra) puts this song at the center of an interesting love traingle cum suspense thriller. The movie was directed by Nasir Hussain, and the energetic dancing is directed by Suresh Bhatt, assisted by Aruna Bashir. The music of this melodious number was composed by R D Burman and lyrics written by Majrooh Sultanpuri.
movie: TAAL (1999)
Ishq bina kya jeena yaron ....
This sweet number, composed by A R Rahman, finds its place in this list because of the effortless fusion of background singing and dancing, choreographed with great skill, gets almost merged with the progression of a sweet tale of love between the leading protagonists (played by Aishwarya Rai and Akshay Khanna). Music is known to bring soulmates together, and so it does as their families and friends watch and take note, while the direction of Subhash Ghai again stamps his showmanship on the screen. Lyrics of this number were written by Anand Bakhshi and the number is sung by A R Rahman, Sonu Nigam, Anuradha Sriram and Sujatha.
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movie: AAP KI KASAM (1974)
Jai jai shiv shankar ....
This number is an eternal tribute to one of the greatest on screen pairs of Bollywood, Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz. It is there chemistry, comfort and skill that stands out in an outstanding peace of creative choreography in the Himalayas, that depicts a herd of intoxicated people celebrating the festival with their own brand of music and dance. Director, J Omprakash must be credited for conceiving this number as should be the case with dance director, Suresh Bhatt. This comical number achieves a place in the list of great songs only because of its great music, composed by R D Burman and sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar. Lyrics are written by Anand Bakhshi.
movie: AA GALE LAG JAA (1973)
Wada karo nahin chhodogi tum mera saath ...
It is the introduction of an innovative skating theme in Bollywood and its execution with grace and elegance, even if in a very typical Bollywood style, which gives this number its extraordinary status. Its signifcance can be gauges by the rarity with which it could be replicated in an industry where anything successful becomes a staple next day. Shashi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore have a very impressive on screen chemistry as they perform the skating dance drama. The movie was directed by Manmohan Desai while the Dance Director was Kamal Kumar, assisted by Sujata Bakhshi,and skating assistance was provided by Santanu. R D Burman's music is not his best, but the singing of Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar and lyrics of Sahir Ludhianwi are enough to carry the day through.
BEST CHOREOGRAPHED SONG OF BOLLYWOOD
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© 2012 V Kumar
V Kumar (author) on January 01, 2013:
Thanks for the encouraging words.
Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on January 01, 2013:
You do wonderful movie reviews. The women are so beautiful. Thank you..
V Kumar (author) on December 31, 2012:
Both Padmini and Vyjayanthimala are great dancers. It is a great dancing number. Thanks for sharing.
celebinfo from India on December 31, 2012:
Have you ever watched Aaja to Aaja song from the 1958 movie Raj Tilak. Actually it's a Tamil movie called "Vanjikottai Valiban" which was later on dubbed to Hindi. I would rate this as one of the best choreographed song ever in the history of Indian Cinema. Hats off to the choreographer, Padmini, Vyjayandhimala and to the Cinematographer for an extra-ordinary output. Padmini and Vyjayanthi are great dancers with different styles. watch it on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTyTiGAORm4 . Definitely you will love it.