Bollywood playback singers

Earlier this year I was watching the 1961 Raj Kapoor film Gunga Jumna.

It was halfway through the village dance scene with Kapoor’s Gunga and Dhanno, the female lead played by Vyjayanthimala, when Son1 looked up from his colouring.

‘She’s not actually singing, is she,’ he pointed out helpfully, before picking out another felt tip pen.

He wasn’t fazed by the deception, truth be told he doesn’t really like Hindi films, it was just obvious to him.

Now, I’m also not taken aback by Bollywood’s long-standing use of ‘playback’ singers, those behind-the-scenes stars whose voices have delighted generations of Indian cinema goers. But I am fascinated by them.

I find the suspension of disbelief necessary for many entertainment forms just as easy to apply to Bollywood songs.

I know the words to Mera Joota Hai Japani come from the mouth of Mohammed Rafi not Raj Kapoor and that it’s not Amir Khan but Sonu Nigam that really emotes Zoobie Doobie (see video above), but I don’t care.

More than that I actively conspire against the knowledge, preferring to pretend to myself that the on screen hero is the one with the golden voice.

But still, I’m fascinated by the concept of the playback singer, forever ‘behind the cutain’ and yet more often than not stars in their own right.

One response to “Bollywood playback singers

  1. Pingback: ‘Al iz well’ as Channel 4′s first Bollywood season of 2011 begins | A Tangle Of Wires

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