By Nidhi Kinhal
We love that everyone’s taking a dive into the melodies of the past, with the recent conversation about Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, and the playback singing industry. In June, Tupur Chatterjee wrote about how Lata’s “the sexually unaware infantile (grown) girl and the Hindu wife/Mother Nation” image, and Asha’s “bad girl” voice marginalised female singers with different voices. In a follow-up, Swati Parashar and Prabha Rani offered a feminist reading of their life and career, arguing that Lata and Asha fought for their place in a male-dominated industry.
Now, our favourite Paromita Vohra is smashing all the stereotypes about sexiness, conventional voices, and the “vamp-virgin narrative.” Pleasure is her area of expertise, and “Hindi films songs are a big fat textbook in that syllabus.” In the newest edition of Agents of Ishq‘s regular weekend feature Sexy Saturday Songs, she questions the notion that mischievous voices are the only way old Hindi songs expressed sexual passion. “Can there be a more contained, not always evident sexy? Just because you don’t have a come-hither note in your voice does that mean your voice doesn’t have chashni in its pants? I don’t think so – and I’m sure you don’t either,” she points out.
Through a playlist of wonderful, sensuous Lata Mangeshkar songs, she reminds us that the all these patriarchal assumptions, and the lines between “good” and “bad”, “loving” and “bold”, are all blur and unnecessary. After all, emotions can be sexy, falling in love is sexy, longing is sexy. “And this emotional sexy is something Lata Mangeshkar, I think, sings so very well – among other kinds,” she adds.
The playlist, starting with the philosophical and insightful ‘Sansar Se Bhaage Phirte Ho’, all the way to the unlikely ‘Dilbar Dil Se Pyare’, the widely cherished ‘Lag Jaa Gale’, and ‘Ni Main Yaar Manana Ni’, is definitely a “more grown-up reconsideration of how many ways sexy can exist (answer: infinite).” It’s a perfect Monday evening listen, so plug in your earphones (or not), and enjoy.