Ever since my early days of watching Bollywood movies in awe of the sheer volumes of talent and resources that go into these truly incredible works of frivolous entertainment I have held onto the fantasy that everyone in India knows, at some point in their lives, the chorus line will form up behind them and it will be their inevitable moment to shine. In other words, everyone gets to “lip-their-lead” in India!
It’s just the natural balance of the universe.
More often than not your “lip-lead” will occur at some point in your post pubescent life (unless of course you’re Dev Patel who will never actually have a post pubescent life), or rather, sometime in your 20’s or 30’s but sometimes your “lip-lead” will happen even well into your 50’s, 60’s 70’s or even 80’s, in India, you just never know.
Now, my all-time favourite lip-lead’r, Shah Rukh Kahn (AKA SRK) has probably had more “lip-leads” than any other human in the history of lipping or leading and with good reason, he’s fucking great at it. The guy has the perfect disposition for lip-leading, he looks great, he’s managed to stay in shape and on top of his game for three decades now, and let me tell you, when he’s lipping his fucking lips are sync’d godammit, I mean spot on and it doesn’t matter what language the dude is giving lip-syncing service to, he nails it every time.
Anyway, Dena and I went to Bangalore this past weekend and believe it or not, I got my lip-lead and it was about as religious a moment as this old atheist will ever have and check it out, it was a Shah Rukh Kahn song! Ok, it wasn’t really a Shah Rukh Kahn “song” it was actually an A.R. Rahman song sung by Sukhwinder Singh and lip-lead’d by Shah Rukh Kahn who was very sloppily channelled through, yep, me last Saturday night in Bangalore, India.
If you haven’t guessed already (ha ha) the song was Chaiyya Chaiyya.
Now, Chaiyya Chaiyya is definitely my favourite Bollywood song of all time for a few different reasons. In the movie Dil Se the song is what is commonly referred to in India as an “Item Number”, meaning it has little or nothing to do with the actual plot of the film (which sucks by the way) it is simply a vector for physical prowess and raw sexuality (without ever kissing!!!) which is achieved so profoundly in that piece that you’d be hard pressed to find a better example of an Item Number.
Yeah, yeah, I know since Dil Se came out in 1998 there’s been roughly 150,000 Item Numbers put on film but the reasons that Chaiyya Chaiyya works so thoroughly on me are the simple ones… It’s fucking weird man!
Let me try to explain…
First of all, they put Shah Rukh Kahn in James Dean’s red blazer from Rebel Without a Cause for no apparent reason (He plays a totally sold out TV personality that can’t get a decent story to save his life or career). Right!? Then they put him on top of a moving train in Tamil Nadu with one of the sexiest women of all time, Malaika Arora! (There aren’t enough exclamation points to explain that one!) And if that wasn’t enough they threw in about 60 of their closest dancing buddies, then they gave them about 30,000 dance moves to do along with lip-leading a 12 minute 30 stanza song without falling off the moving train, and guess what, they pull it off and I mean beautifully. I don’t mean flawlessly (there’s the scene where the guy’s hat fly’s off and then there’s all the train smoke that chokes the shit out of Shah Rukh in the fourth stanza, etc…) But, I have to say, that particular Item Number is my all-time favourite short film. The movie… fuck that movie! Shah Rukh Kahn plays a stalker dude that turns his back on a life of bliss with a young, hot Preity Zinta just to get blown up at the end by a crazy religious fanatic.
Anyway, that was my Bollywood lip-lead!
Don’t get me wrong, I am no SRK but I can honestly say, My Shah Rukh Kahn to Dena’s Malaika Arora truly brought the house down and I believe our friends at the party were quite happily surprised at how well Dena and I ‘Lipped-the-fuck-out-of-that-Lead’