Performances of Bollywood dances among Indian diasporic populations are sites of Hindi film reception, and part of understanding this involves analyzing the dances as they exist in the films and the processes surrounding their transformation into performed works.
A comparison of the choreography of the song Dola re dola in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas(2002) with a newly choreographed version by the U.S. fusion dance troupe Chamak demonstrates how the latter dispensed with the former’s plot-driven elements and Bollywood glitz to become a display of the troupe’s perceptions of both their Indian-American identities and their cultural heritage.
This according to “Swaying to an Indian beat: Dola goes my diasporic heart—Exploring Hindi film dance” by Sangita Shresthova (Dance research journal XXXVI/2 [winter 2004] pp. 91–101.
Above and below, the Bollywood version; further below, Chamak’s version (performance begins around 0:25).
The Hindi film song Thoda resham lagta hai (It takes a little silk), written by Bappi Lahiri for the 1981 film Jyoti, was long forgotten before it was rediscovered in 2002 by the American producer DJ Quik.
Based around an unauthorized 35-second sample of the recording, the Truth Hurts song Addictive prompted Lahiri to sue Dr. Dre (the executive producer of the song), Aftermath Records, and Universal Music (Aftermath’s parent company and distributor) for $500 million.
Beyond Lahiri’s claims of cultural imperialism, obscenity, and outright theft, DJ Quik’s rearrangement of the song was, in turn, adopted by music producers, including Lahiri himself, in a wide variety of international genres, including Indian, American, and Jamaican contexts. Yet even as this well-traveled tune evokes different historical and local meanings, it evokes an eroticized Other in each context, including its original one.
This according to “It takes a little lawsuit: The flowering garden of Bollywood exoticism in the age of its technological reproducibility” by Wayne Marshall and Jayson Beaster-Jones (South Asian popular culture X/3 [October 2012] pp. 249–260). Above, a screen shot from the Addictive video; below, the song in its original context. (Yes, that’s the voice of the great Lata Mangeshkar!)
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