There is a careful line to be drawn in classic Bollywood cinema between love for a man and all-out worship. The songs below represent that unfortunate relic of Bollywood songs that transformed the excitement and bliss of romantic love into something plain unhealthy. We all know the genre I refer to. The trouble is, the songs are so good on a purely artistic level that we can’t help but keep playing them over and over again. Most of them were smash hits at the time of their release and continue to keep a significant slice of Indian audiences captivated, despite shifting social norms.
It’s easy to oversimplify this phenomena by saying, “it’s cultural” or “that was the way of thinking back then.” Yes, in India as in many countries, many women were raised to believe their ultimate role was in service to their husband and the framework for sexuality revolutionized worldwide in the 60s and 70s. But you can’t let it go at that for any similar explanation undermines the contradictory evidence within Indian history and the inherent wrong of this mindset. I don’t care if you lived in the 17th century or were born yesterday, we can’t raise our daughters like this. India is a country famous for electing the first female Prime Minister, for revering the strength and wisdom of its many awe-inspiring female gods, and where women become IT specialists and make salaries equivalent to their male counterparts. But there’s an uglier side too, and hopefully today we all feel a collective awkwardness when reminded of it in that great reflection of culture: film.
You’ll notice that all the songs on our cringe-tastic list are Lata Mangeshkar (half of them Nutan) hits, and it’s no surprise. Of course, it would be the heroine, not the bad modern girl left with an Asha side number, that would sing the song of self-flagellistic devotion. It’s a bad sign that some of these lines were thought to be representative of the “ideal” woman or wife–have we really improved anything by turning women into half-naked screens sirens instead? You decide.
Personally, I have a violent reaction hearing some of these words come out of these actresses. Have a gander yourself and listen carefully to so-called Indian love of the 1950s and 1960s. Can you make it to the bottom of this list without squirming?
1. Tumhi Mere Mandir (Khandan 1965)
Cringe-worthy line: “Tumhi mere mandir, tumhi mere pujaa, tumhi devta ho.” (“You alone are my temple, you alone are my prayer, you alone are my God.”)
Gurrl, please stop it. This is seriously not healthy. Husbands should not take the place of God in your day-t0-day logic. How are you even functioning right now?
2. Aap Ki Nazaro.n Ne Samjha (Anpadh 1962)
Cringe-worthy lines: “Aap ki nazaro.n ne samjha pyaar ke qaabil mujhe…Keh rahi hai har nazar, banda parwar shukriya.” (“Your glances deemed me worthy of your love…every glance of mine says ‘Thank you, Lord.'”)
AAAAAAAAAAH. I’m in so much pain right now. So you’re telling me, you’re grateful that your husband “deemed you worthy” of his love? Help me. Check out our full translation if you’re in the mood for punishment!
3. Tera Mera Saath Rahe (Saudagar 1973)
Cringe-worthy line:”Tu kabhi mere khuda, mujhse bezaar na ho.” (May you never become angry with me, my revered God!)
Although this film is actually really good and takes some unexpected twists that make you love Nutan, I can’t deal with her in this song. She frolics around doing the chores with a pep in her step, just wishing and hoping that her GOD, oh wait, sorry, that man you married, will never be angry at her.
4. Hum Tere Pyaar Mei.N (Dil Ek Mandir 1963)
Cringe-worthy line: “Is tere charan kii dhuul se ham ne apnii jiivan maa.ng bharii…Ab in charano.n me.n dam nikle bas itnii aur tamannaa hai.” (“I put sindoor on my forehead from the dust at your feet…now I have but one more wish, which is to die at your feet.”)
OMG, calm down, girlfriend. You are legit scaring me. I don’t care if you’re being figurative, go take a cold shower and re-evaluate yourself!!! Our English translation of this monster is here.
5. Dheere Dheere Machal (Anupama 1966)
Cringe-worthy line: “Mujhko karne de! Karne de! Solah sringar! Koi aataa hai!” (Oh let me, let me, let me adorn myself and put on full-make up! He is coming!”)
OK I get it, we all try to look good for our man, but it’s the sheer frenzied desperation here that bothers me. Do you think your man gets that crazy to straighten his tie and brush his hair when he hears your painted toenails pattering on the ground in approach??
So how’d you do? Survived? Well done! Sorry about my rant, I just prefer a little equality in a relationship. For a rebuttal (and there are plenty to choose from), be sure to read our post on Mukesh’s “Koi Jab Tumhara Hriday” just in case you were afraid it was only women who knew how to grovel. Did we miss any cringe-worthy gems that always rankle your bones? Let us know in the comments!