Published on November 8th, 2015 | by Sandeep Patil


Minissha Lamba – 3 Golden Moments

Long long ago … there was no internet! Nor were there Smart-phones or iPads or flat-screens. People were still used to listening Vividh-Bharati and Doordarshan was synonymous to Television. Cinema used to be a sacred thing then and like a devotee goes to temple, the “public” would go to see the “picture”. People like me who grew up in 90s have quite a different emotional attachment to the cinema. We never knew how much “business” a movie did in the “opening week”; we rather had our own language of “how many weeks”, “how many reels” and “how much for black(!)”. The programs on the Television on previous night would be discussed next day without fail. With the advent of satellite channels like Zee and Star TV, for the first time the Cinema was domesticated! Until then Cinema used to be a continuous 3 hour affair in theater, now it was available in smaller fragments on Television like Trailers, Top-20 countdowns, “Kya scene hai” etc.  That was perhaps the beginning of what is today known to be “going viral”. The debutantes like Sonali Bendre in Naraz (Sambhala hain maine) or Neha in Kareeb (Chori chori jab) became heartthrobs overnight. A long time rookie like Manisha Koirala directly claimed the top spot once the legendary songs of “1942 A love story” started making rounds in the Top-10 charts. A magical composition, some dreamy situations, a beautiful location and a divine Goddess bringing it all to life … that was recepe of making the eternally memorable songs. Manisha in “rim-zim rim-zim“, Aishwarya in “Taal se taal“, Aamir-aayesha in “Pehla Nasha“, Madhuri in “kismat se tum” are some of the best flowers that blossomed on Bollywood’s branches in those times. That’s why it doesn’t amuse me – or rather hurts me – when I see ranks and files of dancers doing drills on screen or when the heroines even struggle to lip-sync on screen. The sorry state of Bollywood, that is!

When I try to think what would be the last in the league of these cherish-able songs, I remember this particular song from film “Yahaan” (2005). In fact it was not even the entire song that I saw, it was rather a small clip of that song. It was a silent, melodious song … a kind that you can hum to put babies to sleep. The situation looked equally serene – a typical fairy-tale encounter of an innocent beauty and a brave knight. Well, most songs do have fairy-tale situations, no doubt! But seldom are the heroines blessed with that pure, unblemished, innocent beauty that one can otherwise hope to find only in Disney’s caricature of Cinderella or Aurora. This heroine – apparently a newcomer – went very close a mortal human being can to the immortal beauty of the fairy-tale princesses! For whatever reason, I didn’t get to see the whole song, let alone the movie. I subsequently forgot most things about it, barring two everlasting impressions; first the lines that would send shiver through spine – “Gore badan pe ungali se mera naam ada likhana” and secondly spotless, innocent beauty of the girl, adorned by dark deep eyes and waves of her dark hair. I missed the her name though!

A couple of years went. Bollywood was no more a local film industry, it was rather aspiring to capture international viewership. In order to quench the thirst of it’s music loving audience, Bollywood had now started exploring the Spanish territories. Salsa was the new word! There came a few good Spanish salsa numbers and one of them was particularly catchy… “Pyaar ki yeh kahani suno“. I didn’t know anything about the song except it was sung by  Sunidhi Chouhan – God’s special creation for singing funky, enticing dance numbers. One fine day I suddenly got an urge to see who has performed this beautiful song on screen. By now there was this new thing called YouTube and so I thought of checking the “video” of this song. First I recognized the tall man doing Salsa steps pretty stiffly – it was quintessentially Abhay Deol. The Deols have an un-matching dancing history running in the family beginning with Dharam-paji himself and later carried on the heavy shoulders of Sunny, whereby finally Bobby emerged as the best dancing Deol by the rule of negation! There was Abhay keeping up with the dancing tradition, so in despair I turned my attention towards the girl. The girl, was dressed up like a tiny fairy or baby doll and seemed to be quite determined to take the burden of the whole song on her tiny shoulders! She appeared to be very well trained in Salsa; but it was not merely about doing the “steps” accurately … she was actually living the song! That’s what made herself and the song special. She not only saved the dance, but she rather took the song to its rightful position, by rendering it as beautifully as it was sung. The girl didn’t seem familiar to me(!) – perhaps she is a professional Salsa dancer taken in as an item girl for this song, I thought…. and soon, I forgot.

A few months went by. Once again there was a new song … “Ahista Ahista” from “Bachana ai haseeno”, but this time it was not about the song, rather it was about the scene that introduces you into the song. It was a kissing scene – perhaps the most delicate one to portray, something that always swindles between the verge of delicacy and vulgarity. I come from the generation where intimate scenes were preferably portraied on screens with the help of props like wiggling flowers or cooing birds. But thanks to the likes of Imran Hashmi and the newcomer models who think ‘jism’ is a fair substitute for acting, kissing scences aren’t a taboo anymore. Consequently we are saved from the situations in 90’s where producers would try packaging vulgar scenes in name of art, a sure mean to make some extra dough. (We have new situations though!) Today the viewer is a much better judge of vulgarity or delicacy. (Or at least, let’s hope so!)

Thinking of some good kissing scenes (that is, when one is willing to look beyond it’s “face” value), the first that quickly pops to my mind is from “Vertigo” for the sheer directorial brilliance of Hitchcock; the second one from “Satya” for the gem Urmila is. And then here was this song “Ahista ahista”, with two relatively unexperienced youngstars making it at par with the most memorable ones. I once again failed to recognize the girl in the scene (my bad, I had almost altogether stopped watching Bollywood movies by now!) But this time I didn’t repeat the same mistake of forgetting her – I caught hold of my friends and asked “Who is the third girl in Bachana Ae Haseeno”. Being aware of my experties in the domain of recent Bollywood, they understood pretty correctly who I imply by “third girl”, and they answered “Minissha Lamba”. Curious as always, I did a google on that name and found that it was her, it was always her. She was the Salsa girl.. and she was the Shikara girl. Eureka!

The Eureka was not merely for finding the missing link. It was for finding someone who could have rightfully taken the glorious tradition of Hindi heroines – Abhinetri’s – ahead. As I said before, our generation has a different perception and emotional attachment with Hindi Cinema. For us the glorious tradition of Dance, Talent and Beauty pretty much ends with likes of Sridevi, Madhuri, Juhi, Urmila etc. It’s not that today’s Bollywood is sans Talent. Actresses like Vidya Balan and Kangana Ranawat have made their ways against all adversities; but I would have certainly liked to see Amrita Rao and Minissha Lamba in the same league. As Minissha herself has said “yeh sab kismat ka khel hain”.


About the Author

God knows why but I have too many interests. So chances are that you and me have something in common. Let’s see… Patanjali? Chanakya? Romans? Vijaynagar? Shivaji? Renaissance? Vivekanand? Agatha Christie? Tagore? Hitchcock? S.D.Burman? Cary Grant? Satyajit Ray? Grace Kelly? Brucia la terra? Suchitra Sen? Roman Holiday? Vasantaro Deshpande? Robert de Niro? Malguena? Kishore Kumar? Osho? Hotel California? Smita Patil? Erich von Daniken? Pu La? GA? Andaz Apna Apna? Asha Bhosale? PVN Rao? … Watch this space, sooner or later you will something on similar topic

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