Bollywood in Britain

Song and dance sequences   

Why do Bollywood films contain so many songs?

Song and dance sequences are a key feature of most Bollywood films. Songs create a spectacle but also have an important function; they are often used to declare love and emotion, usually without disrupting the narrative. Since songs usually express a romantic sentiment, itís important that the backdrop does the same. Therefore, most locations are chosen purely for their beauty. The films do not conform to Western rules of continuity. Song and dance sequences often jump to locations that have nothing to do with the storyline. Songs also act as an important marketing tool. They have a similar function to pop promos, shown on Indian music channels before the filmís release. Songs offer audiences a real flavour of the film and play a critical role in making a film popular.


Why are song and dance sequences filmed overseas?

Foreign locations bring a sense of excitement, escapism, adventure and aspiration to the film. Film makers are always on the lookout for the perfect romantic backdrop. During the 60s and 70s, the Kashmir valley in India, which was nicknamed 'heaven on earth', became a popular location. The pure white snow, crystal clear lakes and snowy mountains presented idyllic surroundings for falling in love. The song 'Yahoo (see related video link below) from Junglee (Mukherjee, 1961) was filmed in Kashmir. In fact, Kashmirís scenery and landscape became so popular that lakes, trees and mountains became classic symbols for romance in Bollywood. When political instability in the 1980s made it impossible to film there, film makers started to look overseas for Kashmir substitutes.


Switzerland quickly became the obvious replacement because of its lakes, snow-capped mountains and impossibly green alpine valleys. One particular director, Yash Chopra, has favoured Switzerland as a filming location for several decades. Yash Chopra is known as the godfather of love because of the romantic themes of his movies. He has filmed so often at a particular lake that the Swiss Tourism Board has unofficially named it The Chopra Lake. You can see the Swiss backdrop and The Chopra Lake in the song 'Tere Mere Honthon Pe' (see related video link below) from the film Chandni (Chopra, 1989).

This video clip is of revellers at a Bollywood style party in Delhi.

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