By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: Honey Singh’s Lungi Dance from Chennai Express has got the nation revved up for a good time on the dance floor.
Funny, how the lungi seems to have been a part of Hindi cinema from the time it was worn by Meena Kumari in Pakeezah for the song Mausam hai aashiqana.
The lungi became a fashion statement for the ladies thereafter. We had Sharmila Tagore, Waheeda Rehman and Jaya Bhaduri wearing a lungi in more films than one.
Except for Mehmood, who was most comfortable sporting a lungi, leading men were shy of being seen in a lungi even if they were seen sleeping in a film.
A superstar of the 1960s and 70s says, “I was very comfortable wearing a lungi at home. But whenever I was asked to wear a lungi for a film, I shied away. I remember there was a scene in a film where I was shown sleeping in my bed. The director suggested I wear a lungi. I quickly had it changed to a night-suit.”
It was Amitabh Bachchan who broke the jinx over lungis in films. It was his friend Manmohan Desai who convinced the Big B to get into a lungi and woo Hema Malini in the film Desh Premee with the song Khatoon ki khidmat mein salaam apan ka that was a clear homage to Mehmood.
Amitabh Bachchan was very close to Mehmood. This lungi song was the Big B’s homage to Mehmood.
The song situation and Amitabh’s lungi look was a big hit.
But somehow the lungi never became an integral apparel for Hindi cinema. Now with Shahrukh Khan and Honey Singh getting into lungis to do the Lungi dance perhaps we can hope for a widespread legitimization of the lungi in our films.
Honey Singh, who shot the Lungi number with Shahrukh recently, says he is very comfortable in the lungi. “I don’t know why celebrities shy away from wearing a lungi in public. I’d happily be seen in one on stage.”
In fact, Honey Singh now plans a live concert wearing a lungi.