My ten favourite men-in-drag songs
Men in drag has me always in splits. It is one thing, which guarantees a laughter from my side. I know it doesn’t show much of a depth for my character. Yeah, how to put it much better than: I am like that only!
Men wearing women’s clothes is nothing new. In the early films of the Indian film industry boys would often take up female roles. Men in drag is all the same a more ancient phenomenon. The reasons behind it can be different ranging from transvestism to transgenderism. I can imagine that during times or in societies when and where homosexuality was looked down upon, it was one of the ways for men to approach men. For heterosexual men, I can think, it is a means to make fun of women and in this way digest the rejection by them. At the same time it can also be seen as a rebellion against the society and attempt to break away from the roles imposed by the society based on gender. All the same, it is not these deeper thoughts that go through my mind, why I love these songs.
Here are my favourite 10 songs from Hindi films with men in drag. Since it all is supposed to be fun, no rules this time, except for the quite obvious ones like one song pro actor.
1. Aake Sidhi Lagi Jaise – Half Ticket 
MD: Salil Chowdhury; Lyrics: Shailendra; Singer: Kishore Kumar
This is the earliest song, that I have seen in Hindi films, which features a man singing in women’s clothes. Mumtaz Ali, Mehmood’s father, is supposed to have danced in women’s clothes in some films, but I couldn’t find any such videos or references to specific films. Maybe Richard, who has a profound knowledge of Hindi films from the 40s and early 50s, comes up with some such jewel.
I find it hard to suppress a laugh at any funny Kishore Kumar song, however he may overact. This one is a double laughter dose with KK in sort of gypsy girl costume. To make things funnier, he also sings in falsetto, which is at times out of tune AND in a duet with himself. You just can’t have more Kishore Kumar in one song than this. The funny thing is that he doesn’t even try to act coy or do any feminine gestures, he is just being his clowny self, only thing is that he has clothes on from the other gender.
2. Oy Chali Chali Kaisi Hawa – Bluff Master 
MD: Kalyanji-Anandji; Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan; Singers: Shamshad Begum & Usha Mangeshkar
With this duet Shamshad Begum embarks on nearly a decade full of singing for men. Shammi Kapoor also sets a tradition of Kapoor men in drag. A lovely duet!
3. Patli Kamar Nazuk Umar – Lootera 
MD: Laxmikant-Pyarelal; Lyrics: Anand Bakshi; Singer: Shamshad Begum & Kamal Barot
Dara Singh gets the opportunity to don ghagra-choli to get unto the villains’ ship and charm (!) them with his and his colleagues’ assets. Groovy!
One would think that Mehmood would be having the maximum songs in drag, but I come up with three such songs for Dara Singh and only one for Mehmood. The latter surely has more scenes in drag than anybody else, but only one song to move his lips to in drag. Maybe I am wrong, if yes, please do correct me. Can you come up with the other two Dara-in-drag songs?
4. Suno Suno – Haseena Maan Jayegi 
MD: Kalyanji-Anandji; Lyrics: Qamal Jalalabadi; Singer:Mohd. Rafi
Well this is not much of a song but rather a parody of four popular songs of the 60s. Shashi does cut a good figure here with his slimmer figure, which suits the skirts and anarkalis and what not he wears in it. Eight years afterwards he would don a nautch girl’s attire in Shankar Dada and sing jooti lungi sitaronwaali,but I couldn’t find the video to it, but here is the audio to it.
5. Kajra Mohabbat Wala – Kismat 
MD: O. P. Nayyar; Lyrics: Shailendra; Singers: Asha Bhosle & Shamshad Begum
One would say nobody is more suited for a drag song than Biswajeet and he does it with quite a panache. He would get more screen space and time for wearing a sari in Biwi Aur Makhan, but it hardly has any good songs, although the music is by Hemant Kumar and the lyrics by Gulzar. Even the film, although directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, hardly elicits any laughter from me.
6. Teen Kuwareeyan… Hathon Me Mehndi – Parde Ke Peechhey 
MD: Shankar-Jaikishan; Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan; Singers: Asha Bhosle, Usha Mangeshkar & Shamshad Begum
One year back I hadn’t even heard of this movie leave alone the song. Vinod Mehra is of the opinion that a ghagra-choli is an essential gadget to catch a thief. Since I don’t have much to do with the police department I can’t verify it but he does seem to have fun dancing with Bindu and Yogeeta Bali. The C.I.D goes to any length to protect the citizens of India from crime!
7. Nathaniya Hale To Bada Maza – Johar Mahmood In Hong Kong 
MD: Kalyanji-Anandji; Lyrics: Qamal Jalalabadi; Singer: Shamshad Begum
At last, at last, at last, Mehmood gets to lip sync to Shamshad Begum’s voice while wearing a sari and false hair and dance as well as seduce I. S. Johar. The song is full of double entendre, but all the same it is so full of joi de vivre and the fact that not only Mehmood but also Shamshad Begum seems to be having fun with the song, saves us from feeling embarrassed.
8. Malmal Me Badan Mora Chamke – Five Rifles 
MD: Kalyanji-Anandji; Lyrics: ?; Singer: Asha Bhosle
I. S. Johar in turn gets to dance in a courtesan’s dress in his own film Five Rifles and makes for the ugliest of all men in drag in this list. Fooling the police has never been more crazy than this.
9. Bombay Se Baroda Tak – Rafoo Chakkar 
MD: Kalyanji-Anandji; Lyrics: Gulshan Bawra; Singers: Asha Bhosle & Usha Mangeshkar
The third scion of the Kapoor gets to wear a mini and jump around with his best friend in a train while trying to woo his then real-life girl-friend Neetu Singh. The excuse for wanting to wear the mini-skirts? They are witnesses of a heinous (how I love this word!) crime. Some Like It Hot in Hindi!
10. Sar-E-Bazar Karenge Pyar – Kaatilon ke Kaatil 
MD: Kalyanji-Anandji; Lyrics: ?; Singers: Kishore Kumar & Asha Bhosle
Even macho Dharmendra gets to frolic in a Victorian sort of costume while declaring his love for Zeenat Aman. What’s more he also gets to move his lips to Asha Bhosle’s voice. Alas, the joy is short-lived!
By the way, did you notice the dominance of Kalyanji-Anandji songs in this list? Do you have some favourite songs in the category of men-in-drag?
Playlist to enjoy.