Potato, Plum, Mango, Dal! No, this is not your grocery list

In times of lockdown, give your ears a taste of these appetising Bollywood songs

By Mayur Lookhar

The world is gripped by a global pandemic.  The Coronavirus is proving a tough nut to crack for even the world’s super powers. Our hearts go out to the millions affected by it.  As hard this time may be, but one should never lose their sense of humour.

 In a pandemic, it is important to be sensitive. Of all the memes, banter we came across on social media, there was one that best defined the world we humans live in now. The creator rightly compared humans in lockdown to RATS who only sneak out to fetch food. The moment they see too many people, they rush back into their holes.

And like rats we are making a beeline at grocery stores, vegetable/meat markets.  These times call for prudence, austerity in our consumption.  The insensitive rich may stock essentials, but not satiate all their cravings. For the poor, and the middle class, they’ll be content to get couple of meals a day.  

Well, we can’t fill your grocery bag but we want you to savour some delectable, some bizarre songs featuring food items. In times of lock down, give your ear buds a taste of these appetizing Bollywood songs.  From non-vegetarian to eggatarian, vegetarian to vegans, we hope there is something to savour for all.

Corn, pomegranate, chili – Ichak Dana Bichak Dana – Shree 420 [1955]

Not a food song per se as here was a teacher throwing riddles at her students. The answer to three of them was anar (pomegranate), mirchi (chili) and bhutta (corn). The Hasrat Jaipuri (lyricist) gem from the Raj Kapoor, Nargis-starrer classic Shree 420 [1955] is an eternal track. A golden Shankar-Jaikishan composition sung in the magical voice of Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh. We are thankful to Jaipuri for incorporating the food items in this delightful track. Our list would be incomplete without paying tribute to this golden track.

Plum – Meri Beri Ke Ber Mat Todo – Anokhi Raat (1968)

Just like the fruit, this Indivar penned, Asha Bhosle crooned Roshan composition was ripe for the taking.  Perhaps, it might be hard to find your plum now so just make do with this song.

Lentil (Dal) Dal Roti Khao – Jwar Bhata [1973]

Chuck all cravings, millions right now won’t complain if they get to eat dal, roti daily.   The Laxmikant-Pyarelal composition is so apt in the current times.

Betel – Paan

(a) Paan Khaye Saiyan Hamaaro – Teesri Kasam [1966]

Before we get to the iconic Don [1978] track, paan was made famous by Waheeda Rehman in the scintillating Teesri Kasam [1966] number Paan Khaye Saiyan Hamaaro. Penned by Shailendra, the Shankar-Jaikishan gem beat through the melodious tone of Asha Bhosle.

(b) Khaike Paan Banaraswala – Don [1978]  

Perhaps most paan-beedi shops around are shut. For those who have a strong craving for paan [betel], well this evergreen Kishore Kumar, [pictured on] Amitabh Bachchan track will wet your throat.  Sorry, Shah Rukh Khan, the remake just doesn’t cut with us.

Tea – Shayad Meri Shaadi – Souten [1983]

Social distancing is the need of the hour. Many girls who had planned to introduce their boyfriend to their parents, will have to do so through video calls. But there’d be no serving tea and snacks.  Why not play this Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar track that was all about inviting the boyfriend to meet the parents over tea?

Semolina – Aagaya Aagaya Halwa Wala – Dance Dance [1987]

The 80’s audience was privy to this Bappi Lahiri track from the family, dance drama Dance Dance [1987].  Hungry orphan kids fill their stomach with the halwa [sweet snack] made of semolina. Pandemic or not, but given its perishability, it’s hard to find the Halwa walas (hawkers) in the city.  Besides, one needs to appreciate the innocent tones of Vijay Benedict, Uttara Kelkar, and Sarika Kapoor.

Pomegranate seeds –  Naar Dana Anar Dana – Henna [1991]

Some of the lyrics were difficult to decipher but the anar dana spice here warmed our senses.  Anardana is a spice made of pomegranate seeds. We don’t know the significance of the Anardana in the context of this song, but lyricist, composer Ravindra Jain gave us a memorable number from Raj Kapoor’s last directorial Henna [1991] that introduced Indian audience to Pakistani talent Zeba Bakhtiar.  An underrated gem by Lata Mangeshkar.

Chickpea (Chana) – Chane Ke Khet Mein [1994]

The Sameer-penned Anand-Milind composition was a popular chartbuster in 1994. Chane Ke Khet Mein was another vintage Madhuri Dixit show.   It is also one of 90s popular singer Poornima’s [remember her?] fine performance.  Not many households are likely to have the chickpea [chana] regularly, but if you haven’t stocked your chana, then watch Dixit dazzle in Chane Ke Khet Mein.

Chocolate Lime Juice – Hum Aapke Hain Koun! [1994]

Adolescence has its cons too. As a child, we gorged onto many things, but as we grow into adults, we usually don’t have the same cravings. Dev Kohli’s lyrics helped us reminisce our love for chocolate, lime juice, ice cream, toffees as a child. Perhaps a peculiar track for Lata Mangeshkar, but Madhuri Dixit was a picture of innocence.

Chicken – Chicken Fry – Rock Dancer [1995]

Alright food is used as an aphrodisiac, but Bappi Lahiri took his romantic cravings to an altogether hilarious level in the Chicken Fry song from Rock Dancer [1995]. Well, it wasn’t just chicken though. You were served saag, roti, cutlet, fish fry, masala dosa, chocolate too. Though not a melody, but this song is bound to lift sullen moods.  Bappi Lahiri and Shweta Shetty’s loud tones were enough to suggest that they did their teeth deep into this ridiculously appetizing lyrics. Years later, a remake was cooked in Ragini MMS [2011] but nothing beats the original.

Mirchi (Chili) – Main Toh Raste Se Ja Raha Tha – Coolie No.1 [1995]

A chili is hot. Not one for those with a sweet tooth. In Mumbai lingo, the ‘mirchi’ [chili] though is often used metaphorically for envious people.  Lyricist Sameer found the hottest one in the Main Toh Raste Se Ja Raha Tha song where on-screen lovers Govinda and Karisma Kapoor romanced publicly caring two hoots about any envious people around.  World never runs out of such people, and the chilis are produced in abundant quantity.   Kumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik’s soothing tone though made this ‘mirchi’ very enjoyable.

Potato: –

(a) Batata wada – Hifazat [1987]

The potato was first mashed into a lyrical recipe by [lyricist] Anand Bakshi in the very edible Batata Wada song.  A popular snack in Maharashtra, composer R.D Burman gave it the right mix of entertainment and melody. Who would have ever thought of Asha Bhosle and Suresh Wadkar singing such a track.

(b) Samosa [triangular patty] – Samose Mein Aaloo – Mr. and Mrs. Khiladi [1997]

Indian lyricists have found strange, philosophical ways to profess eternal love.   In Mr and Mrs. Khiladi [1997], Dev Kohli equated true eternal love to that of a Samosa and potato equation – inseparable. Abhijeet Bhattacharya, Poornima added their spicy tone to the Anu Malik composition.

Fish (Machhali) – Chal Kheva Re Kheva – Doli Saja Ke Rakhna [1997]

It was heart wrenching to watch images of buckets of fish being dumped into the sea during the pandemic. Animal lovers cried hoarse that the same could have been served to strays and pets.

Back in 1997 though, A.R. Rahman and lyricist Mehboob produced a rare fisherfolk track.  The ever rising population and the huge global demand for seafood sees the fisherfolk hunt day and night.   The Chal Kheva Re Kheva track was the fisherfolk’s prayer, a belief that the seas would never run out of fish.  A relatively underrated track by Rahman and singer Sukhwinder Singh. It is a good song to revisit the tone of the unheralded Ranu Mukherjee

Ras Malai – Chandaal [1998]

 In the 1990s, the legend Mithun Chakraborty regaled in his world of films, which critics perhaps would have deemed it as B-grade. The 1998 action drama Chandaal threw up a hilarious track in Ras Malai – a popular dessert made from paneer [curd cheese] and milk.  The Dev Kohli-penned track borders on innuendos.   The then Central Board of Film Certification was definitely very lenient.  A strict no for family audience, but given the nature of this feature, and the writer’s lust for Ras Malai, we had to incorporate this naughty number.

Lemon (Nimbu) – Nimbooda – Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam [1999]

Madhuri Dixit missed her lime juice in Hum Aapke Hai Koun! [1994] but Aishwarya Rai Bachchan sure did knew the power of her ‘nimbu’.  In Indian tradition, a lemon is used for more than consumption.  According to a myth, a nimbu is also used to ward of any evil.  Lyricist Mehboob squeezed the traditional Rajasthani folk tune to director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s liking.  We don’t know anything about the evil, but Aishwarya Rai Bachchan danced liked a dream here.  Who doesn’t want a taste of this Nimbooda? And it’s a memorable number from Kavita Krishnamurthy,

Egg – Ande Ka Funda – Jodi No.1 [1999]

Pratik Joseph.  The name doesn’t ring a bell. But mention the words Ande Ke Funda and memories of Jodi No.1 [2001] will spring to your mind. The vegan and vegetarians will despise the eggs, but singer, lyricist Joseph used the egg to explain the various realities and philosophy of life.  Himesh Reshammiya and Anand Raj Anand’s gave a nice groovy score that made it an enjoyable and meaningful track.

Neem – Kabhi Neem Neem – Yuva [2004]

The pandemic has perhaps left a bitter taste in most mouths, but Neem has healthy properties.  Rani Mukerji found Abhishek Bachchan’s character both bitter like neem and sweet like honey.   Bitter and sweet, that’s how one will describe this AR. Rahman composition that truly came alive through the melodious tone of Madhushree.

Salt (Namak) – Namak Ishq Ka – Omkara [2007]

Salt has been used before in Hindi songs but seldom in the right quantity. Gulzar’s Namak Ishq Ka charmed the pallet and warmed hearts.  Rekha Bhardwaj’s rustic tone and Bipasha Basu’s sizzling beauty made you crave for the Namak Ishq Ka repeatedly.

Sugar (Cheeni) – Cheeni Kum title track [2007]

The vagaries of life can often leave one frustrated.  Not that the person is bad but professional, personal stress can leave a person bitter some times. At 60 plus, and still a bachelor, you wouldn’t blame Amitabh Bachchan’s character for carrying a long face.  Good at heart, but he’s lost his mild mannerism.  The Cheeni Kum title track was a fine description of Bachchan’s character, a no-nonsense chef who is anything but sweet.

Maida (wheat flour) – Jalebi Bai – Total Dhamaal [2011]

Desserts are usually consumed last. And fittingly, our last two tracks in this list consist of a jalebi (made from maida) and a mango.

Not a great actress but Mallika Sherawat sure is one fine dancer.  Like a jalebi in a frying pan, Sherawat sizzled on the dance floor.  The entertaining item number was a creation of composer, lyricist Anand Raj Anand and crooned enthusiastically by Ritu Pathak.

Mango – Damadamm! {2011]

The mango season is upon us. While Indians are likely to gorge on the sweetest mangoes, we are not sure whether this Mango song from Himesh Reshammiya will warm your bellies. Nevertheless, it is Himesh and he’s hard to ignore.  The song begins with a woman calling it a philosophical research on mango. Well, we are not sure about that but this Mango song is a worth a good laugh.

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