Laura Witkowski

Bollywood Ear Candy: Chura Liya Hai

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Yaadon Ki Baaraat

By Laura Witkowski

‘Chura Liya Hai’ is the Bollywood equivalent of ‘Stairway To Heaven’ or ‘Whiter Shade Of Pale’ in that, if you tuned into a “Classic Bollywood of the 70s” radio station, there’s a good chance this song would either be playing, or coming up next. Taken from the 1973 blockbuster movie Yaadon Ki Baaraat, it’s a sweet love song sung by Asha Bohsle and Mohammad Rafi who have a long history of hit duets together. The title roughly translates into ‘You Have Stolen My Heart’. I’m guessing it was THE song of 70s Indian wedding receptions the same way The Carpenters ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ was here in the United States. No offense to Karen’s memory, but I’d rather have ‘Chura Liya Hai’ played at my wedding, no question.

This clip serves as a prime example of a very common Bollywood phenomenon: nobody in India can convincingly pretend to play the guitar. In fact, there seems to be absolutely no effort to even feign remote guitar competence. Sunita (Zeenat Aman) is a perfect example: nothing she’s doing is even remotely in time with the music and she doesn’t even pretend to change chords. Of course, her singing and (not) playing still manage to charm Vijay (Vijay Arora). To be fair, he is pretty drunk at this point. The best part is when he takes the guitar at 2:37 as if to say, “Oh yeah? Well I can sing and (not) play guitar just as well as you, little lady”. In fact, he’s slightly better than her since he does move his hand on the neck of the guitar a little before giving up and using it as a dancing prop. As much as I’d like to say this phenomenon is limited to 70s Bollywood, I’ve seen it in all eras of Indian cinema. Yet another reason why true Bollywood enjoyment requires suspension of disbelief.

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