Why Al Gore prefers 70s Bollywood

In which we provide an illustrative tutorial on song and dance routines in Hindi films.

Alright. Gather around peoples. It’s time to get on the soapbox.

Every time I see someone use the phrase running-around-trees to refer to current Bollywood song-and-dance routines, I get annoyed. Yes, Bollywood is escapist and unreal. But news flash. We do NOT run around trees. Not anymore. They stopped doing that, circa 1992. They’ve chopped up all the trees and replaced them with ostentatious sets that resemble space-age metropolises. (Or ostentatious red and gold, stained-glass sets if you go the Bhansali way.) Even the sarson ke khet loving Yash Chopra productions have retired their gaggle of giggly sahelis and instead prefer to feature hotties on the beaches of Sydney and Rio.

Now for those of you who don’t understand words, we have a simple illustrative example of song-and-dance routines in Bollywood, then and now. First Exhibit A, from 1970.

Running around trees

As you can see above, the 70s were a time when trees served many a purpose in Hindi films —

  • To run around and sing songs.
  • To hide behind and (presumably) kiss.
  • To fill up background space when you didn’t have the budget to hire backup dancers. (Standard formula used — one banyan tree = 5.2 apsaraa girls.)
  • For hero to hide behind, while chasing the villain with a gun containing a single bullet. (The hero being twice the width of the tree is of scant significance.)
  • To sway menacingly to warn the audience of the storm (figurative and literal) that is soon to strike the hero-heroine. (A device used excessively in ghost stories just before villain puts buri nazar on heroine, kills her, and leaves her bhatakti aatmaa to torment audiences for rest of movie.)
  • To topple over onto an obviously-fake miniature house to indicate a natural calamity of choice (earthquakes and floods being most popular) thus separating the hero and his family, only to have them be united in the end, after singing the ubiquitous family song. (For all of you who scoff at the idea — exactly how many of you have a pre-determined group song as part of your family contingency plan? Hah. I thought as much.)

Bottomline, trees were important in Hindi films and their importance in romance was no less. Without the tree, the hero had nowhere to trap the heroine so he could lean into her for a kiss. Without the tree, the heroine had nowhere to back into, before coyly giving in to the kiss. Without the tree, Jaya Bhaduri couldn’t annoyingly hide from Randhir Kapoor while singing main yahaan to his tum kahaan. Without the tree, Vyjayanthimala couldn’t hang off a branch, coyly swing her ghaghraa back and forth, and sing dil tadap tadap ke keh rahaa to Dilip Kumar. Well, you get the point. Trees — important.

Now we move on to Exhibit B. This is 2008. Notice. No trees. No nature. Just oodles of symbolism. Whoever said Hindi movies cannot be subtle?

No trees no running

So now you know. Movies of the 70s and 80s were more eco-friendly. And that is the convenient truth.

82 thoughts on “Why Al Gore prefers 70s Bollywood

  1. Anon

    I was thinking of donating for my own well being. You know like when you give money to that guy who plays an instrument at street corners just in the hope that he would stop and move? Sorta like that — except with the hope of avoiding certain topics on this blog. One should never see Krishna doing PT with a girl young enough to be his grand-daughter and call her baybee for one..

  2. munimma

    Back in the gro(o)ve, I see. I is glad.
    Personally, I prefer the perfectly synchronized dance routines(!) perfected by Krishna, NTR, et al. Care to blog about their superior skills?

  3. Vijay

    That was really hilarious. Nice graphical explanations. You must check my blog (see URL), any feedback will be highly encouraging to a novice blogger like me:)


  4. luckykabutar

    I don’t know which I like best. The tree mating rituals or the urban mating rituals. Aah what the heck, 89% of bollywood movies can’t keep my attention.

  5. zsa zsa zsu

    There is a reason why tree as props faded in oblivion…..
    and tat is…. tadaaa…. excess of booty-showing in apna not-so-coy bollywood.
    i presume the pics showing circa 2008 are from the horrendous movie RACE. (i will write this comment…and u all will read this, cause i spent 200 rs to watch this nuisance of a film in theatre)

    so…back to topic…
    with katrina’s and bip’s long tree legs…and other body parts devoid of clothes… and a useless fat sameera reddy swaying dangerously… there isnt much cinema space to accumalate all this in one frame. Let alone inculde nature-favorite trees.

    Trees belonged to the time of much petite buffo hair-styled sadhana, mala sinha, saira banu and others.

  6. IdeaSmith

    Khee khee khee…wattay fun…errm, what a funny story!!! I wanted to link this to DesiPundit but realised I got here too late. By the by, I was looking for your email address but it doesn’t seem to be mentioned anywhere on the blog?

  7. Maverick

    caught up with u after a while and oo boy what a hilarious post. So how will blywd be after 30 more years? backup dancers replaced by aliens? :)

  8. Divya

    the park named after dead national leader and strategically placed flowers.. hahahahaha!! awesome description and dissection of on screen antics :)

  9. Ajay

    Awesome! some deep thinking and thorough research there. I think this is perhaps the most comprehensive study ever on the subject. good work!

  10. John P Matthew

    Hi Megha,

    This is classy! Yeah songs of the seventies and eighties were more environment friendly, and when flowers weren’t there to cover the kissing girl and boy there were the butterflies and bees, remember?


  11. chitty cat

    girl u r sooo funnny!!

    loved this post – nice atention to the frlls and details ;)

    and phallic imagery – haha

    btw is there a feminine equivalent for phallic imagery?

    and hmm i thot ‘well-hung’ was a term used to describe men. aint those back-up dancers women?

  12. Aishwarya

    mind-blowing observation … oh, i have been nerved by that running-around-trees phrase many times, but have never noticed the transition from the 70s to today in such a minute details. every sentence and pic in this post is a treasure … hilarious !

  13. :-)

    I am here after a long time and am not disappointed :-) Hilarious stuff…
    How come I no one thought of this one before ! :-)

  14. vanita singh

    I wish post would have been a bit longer.Extremely funny.You can see almost all heroines wearing nyron frills and bell bottoms in that era.

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