Discussion Post: What Are Songs That Work Best in Context?

I suppose I could have down the other option, “what are songs that work best out of context?” Maybe tomorrow! But today, I am curious about in context songs. Sexy, romantic, happy, funny, whatever it is, comes through in a whole different way if it is seen within the rest of the movie.

I’ll start with one that I have to give context for all the time because people always want to show it to their friends and the friends never get it on the first watch, “Dard-E-Disco”. If you show it without context, it just looks like a silly sexy song, ha-ha, midlife crisis of Shahrukh, ridiculous Indian films that are ridiculous, and so on. But in context, it’s a super clever spoof, of star ego, of item songs, of stupid lyrics of item songs, of everything that at first it looks like it is playing into. Very funny.

Here’s another one I just thought of recently. “Ja Haal Dil Ka” from Sarfarosh. It’s a fine song no matter what, wet saris and wet shirts, lots of clinging and stroking and sexy stuff. But what makes it really great is the context, Aamir is this super buttoned down police guy, Sonali has been pursuing him like crazy and not getting much of a response, even the audience isn’t sure how he feels, and then at a party he looks at her and we get a glimpse into his mind and discover that under the calm half smile and soft voice is MAD PASSIONATE SEXUAL DESIRE.

Along the same lines, “Jashn-E-Bahaara” from Jodha-Akbar is just deadly romantic in context. It’s pretty sexy without context, beautiful people singing to each other. But in context, when we have had this whole three hour build to these two stubborn people breaking down and confessing their feelings, it’s not only sexy, but romantic when Hrithik finally is able to express himself.

I guess this is also kind of an interesting thing to note about Indian films. Their songs aren’t like Hollywood/Broadway musicals where people are sing-talking and it is all directly plot related. But the mood of the song can be heightened and changed based on the story surrounding it, even if there is no direct narrative connection.

Anyway, those are the songs that leap to mind for me!!!! What are the songs you can think of that are just sort of okay on their own but super amazing if you know the context and the characters?

8 thoughts on “Discussion Post: What Are Songs That Work Best in Context?

      • Yes, definitely! Both directors really try to make the songs live within and enhance the film. I can’t speak to Menon, but with Yash Chopra, it is a sign of one of his weaker films when the songs feel thrown in and just don’t make sense. Parampara has some real “wait, what is happening now?” kind of songs.

        On Wed, Feb 27, 2019 at 1:09 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  1. Enna Satham Intha Neram from old Kamal Hassan movie Punnagai Mannan. The movie starts with this romantic song. We don’t know who are those people, and why they came there. They are young, in love, happy, just being together. There is even improvised wedding, and later they have sex in the forest. All nice and super romantic.

    But if you watch the movie, right after this song they jump from the waterfall, and commit suicide. Well, the girl dies, and Kamal survives. They were in love but her parents didn’t want them to be together. Her mother said she will kill herself if the girl will marry Kamal. So the couple decide to pass the last day together and jump. Knowing this, the video is not that happy and romantic anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just looked up that movie, it sounds terrible! K Balachander, so I am sure it is beautiful and brilliant and all of that, but also sooooooooooo sad.

      On Thu, Feb 28, 2019 at 3:02 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • Yes, and the title means King of smiles! I don’t want to know what tamilian writers would invent in a movie with a title “King of tears”
        When I started watching this film I only knew that Kamal plays dance teacher, nothing else, so imagine my reaction when I finished this tour of sadness.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Punnagai Mannan is a lovely movie book-ended by a tragic start and an equally tragic ending
          You walk in 10 minutes late & leave 10 minutes before the ending. T
          That neatly solves both problems & leaves you all smiling

          Kamal, Revathy, Balachander & Illaiyaraja at their best really


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