Over the decades, the makers of commercial Indian movies have perhaps accepted that one of the secrets of success is the Hindi movie song where a girl dances on a song in a way which is seducing, scintillating, dazzling, entertaining and much more. The beats of the music of the movie song are foot tapping and infectiously energising – as if pushing the viewers to get up and come on the dance floor. Along with the music and the suggesting lyrics (sometimes double meaning too) are the latkas and jhatkas (swinging of the hips and other such dance movements) of the girl who is scantily dressed.
Such dancing girls have over the period got a title which is called item girl as they sing and dance on a song which is called item song in the Indian movies. Whatever may be the background or the theme of the set decoration, the purpose is always same and it is pure entertainment of the audience. If the audience is satisfied it whistles, claps and hoots – which is termed as paisa vasool in commercial terms. For those who do not know this Hindi term or are new to Indian movies, paisa vasool is a synonym for 100% return on investment by the movie goer who has spent money on the ticket.
The changes in perception of Item Girls and Item Songs
Though the rage and craze over item songs and their youtube videos is more in open now, the concept has been a part of Bollywood since decades. Remember Padma Khanna in Johny Mera Naam in 70s besides Helen whose dance was a must in almost every second movie. While it was not considered good to watch or discuss such songs in a decent gathering or a family gathering, now it is perfectly OK for kids, young and old alike to dance on their music at weddings or other events.
Similar change in perception has come to stay in the minds of the actresses and heroines too in these times. Established actresses and leading heroines are using this to stay in limelight or to increase their screen presence while new comers take this as an route to make an entry and get further chances to get work in Bollywood.
Whether it is Aishwarya Rai Bachchan singing “Kajrare Kajrare” or Deepika Padukone doing pole dancing in “Naam Tera Padke” or Katrina Kaif dancing to the song “Shiela ki Jawani” – nobody seems to mind doing the item songs. Rather this is a step towards more publicity and greater popularity.
From a taboo or something unacceptable, item songs and item girls are a rage, a cool thing – actors and audience, society and film industry have sure come a long way.
The Item Girls of Indian Movies
Here we take a look at some of the most celebrated item girls of Indian Cinema a.k.a. Bollywood, their seducing body movement, charismatic personality and their distinct charming style. Also there are foreign girls who became quite a rage with just one item song – example Yana Gupta the Czech girl. Then there are non heroines who made their own mark and became sizzling divas despite the presence of mainstream heroines.
Let us take a look at a few leading ladies of Bollywood and their item numbers. Keeping scrolling down to read it all or jump to your favorite item girl for her image and item song by clicking on her name:
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
Malaika Arora Khan
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
Aishwarya Rai (42), changed her name to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan after her marriage, is an Indian actress and the winner of the Miss World pageant of 1994. She is titled by the media as the “most beautiful woman in the world”
She has been having a very successful career in the Indian Film Industry, with many hits and not so hits to her credit. Aishwarya Rai has been honoured with several awards, including two Filmfare Awards , Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2009 and the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Government of France in 2012.
Interestingly, she too could not resist the temptation of being an item girl of the Indian Movies. She is well known and shall be rembered for her item song “Kajra Re” in the movie ‘Bunty aur Bubli.’ As an item girl in this song, she performs with her husband Abhishek and father-in-law Amitabh Bachchan. It is worth mentioning that Aishwarya made a special appearance in the film for only this item song.
Ms. Rai has also entertained the audience with her item number Crazy Kiya Re in the film Dhoom 2 in western outfits and in the film Shakti: The Power she performed with Shahrukh Khan on the song Ishq Kamina.
Jacqueline Fernandez (born 1985) graduated in mass communication from the University of Sydney and worked as a television reporter in Sri Lanka. Earlier, Jacqueline Fernandez was crowned Miss Sri Lanka for Miss Universe in March, 2006 and also competed in Miss Universe 2006. Later she turned model and subsequently she entered Bollywood in 2011.
There has not been any looking back since. She acted in Murder 2 (2011), Housefull 2 (2012) and action thriller Race 2 (2013).
Her performance also got her an IIFA Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. In 2014, she played the leading lady in Kick, which is one of the highest-grossing Bollywood films of all time. Her songs from movie Kick – Jumme Ki Raat and Chittiyaan Kalaiyaan in movie Roy are very famous currently.
Aruna Irani (born May 1952) may at the most be known as an actor playing character roles in TV serials. It is highly improbable that the young generation of today would know her as the hot item girl of yesteryears. Starting her acting career at the age of 9 years ( 1961), Aruna Irani did a host of roles in Bollywood and she even played a lead role opposite Amitabh Bachchan in the movie Bombay to Goa.
But it was her sizzling dance numbers such as “Chadhti Jawani” with Jitendra in Carvan made her quite famous. Her other well known item songs are “Dilbar Dil Se Pyare”, “Ab Jo Mile Hain To” with Jeetendra; and “Ae Phansa”.
Though the lead roles of heroine continued to elude her, Aruna Irani won her first Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award for Pet Pyaar Aur Paap in 1984. In the later years of her life (during 80s and onwards) she switched to playing motherly roles. One of her notable roles was in the movie Beta (1992) for which she won her second Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award. She has also acted in many Gujarati films.
|Chadti Jawani Video||Dilber Dil Se Video|
Malaika Arora Khan
Malaika Arora Khan as the item girl of present times has a number of hit item numbers to her credit.
She got attention and fame her dance in the song “Chaiyya Chaiyya” (1998). There has not been any looking back since then. She featured in many item songs such as “Munni Badnaam Hui” , “Maahi Ve”, “Kaal”, “Munni Badnaam Hui”, “Anarkali Disco Chaali”, “Fashion Khatam Mujhpe” as the sizzling item girl. Perhaps, this is the reason that Malaika happens to be one of the highest paid item dance girls in the Indian film industry. Few people would remember now that Malaika started her career as a MTV VJ. MTV India gave her prime time roles in their shows “Love Line” and “Style Check”.
Oozing with sex appeal even at 41 (born 1971) she currently judges India has got talent – a much watched television show. In 2008, she turned film producer with her husband, Arbaaz Khan and their production house gave hits like Dabangg (2010) and Dabangg 2 (2012).
Yana Gupta (born 1979) is a Czech model, who also modelled in Japan before moving to India. In 2003 she stormed into the hearts of millions of Indian movie lovers with an item number ‘Babuji Zara Dheere Chalo’ in film Dum. This song’s music coupled with Yana’s sexy looks and her enticing performance was a smash hit! Enough to make her a celebrity overnight.
Although she entered the Indian modelling scene in 2001 as the brand ambassador of the largest Indian cosmetic brand Lakme, it was this song which made this Czech beauty a celebrity with people swooning over. Subsequently, has also done a hot song number Laila O Laila in the film ‘Chalo Dilli’,
In 2009 Yana authored a book on health “How To Love Your Body And Get The Body You Love”.
An ex-Adult film star and termed as sex symbol, Sunny Leone made an entry into Bollywood with a bang. She has already worked in quite a few Hindi movies such as Ek Paheli Leela, Jism 2 and Ragini MMS 2
Her latest item song, Baby Doll, is very popular – just like her. Sunny Leone grabbed eyeballs with this sizzling item number. Judging by the immense popularity of this diva, she is likely to go beyond her item girl and sexy roles in the times to come.
This British Indian girl and the former model appeared in Indian films – courtesy Salman Khan, bringing glamour factor in her roles. Katrina is one of the most popular celebrities of current times but has not stopped her from giving quite a few hit item songs mostly with Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar.
Of course, people will remember her for a long time for doing the Sheila Ki Jawaani, but also entertained her fans in Chikni Chameli.
Take a look at her item songs in which she rocked the world with her sizzling moves and sensuous looks and right body weight :
- Sensuous Song: Zara Zara Touch Me in film Race (2008)
- Item Song: Sheila Ki Jawani in Film : Tees Maar Khan (2010)
- Item Song: Aao ji baouji in Film Bodyguard(2011)
- Item Song: Chikni Chameli in Film Agneepath (2012)
- Item Song: Mashallah in Film Ek Tha Tiger”(2012)
- Hot rain song: Gale Lag Ja in Film De Dana Dan
Songs: Dhoom Machale Dhoom and Kamli: in film Dhoom 3
Deepika Padukone has been extremely lucky as far as her debut is concerned. Born in January 1986 in Copenhagen, Deepika made appearance Hindi Film Industry in 2007 with Farah Khan’s ‘Om Shanti Om’ opposite the Super Star Shahrukh Khan. The movie was a big hit and opened the doors of success for the daughter of famous badminton champion Prakash Padukone. Barely 6 years and Deepika is well entrenched in the film industry with 3 back to back hits.
Since her debut, Deepika has also done a few special item songs that are:
Film: Billu, Item Song: Love Mera Hit Hit
Film: Dum Maaro Dum, Item Song: Dum Maaro Dum ( the lyrics of the song got criticised too)
Film: Happy New Year, Item Song: Main Lovely Ho Gayiaan
Kareena Kapoor Khan
Kareena Kapoor is the currently one of the top heroines of the Indian movies and thus she needs no introduction. In addition, she is the granddaughter of Raj Kapoor – the legend of the Indian film industry. Also she is married to another famous and successful actor Saif Ali Khan. Daughter of Randhir Kapoor and Babita ( both actors), Kareena Kapoor Khan has seen in a number of item songs where she does not play a lead role.
Her first considerably noticed item dancing was in the movie Don on the song “Yeh Mera Dil”. This was followed by a number of commercially hit and foot tapping numbers like:
- Marjaani – film: Billu Barber (2009)
- Chammak Challo – film: Ra One (2011)
- Fevicol Se – film: Dabangg 2 (2012).
- Halkat Jawani – film: Heroine (2012).
- Dil Mera Muft Ka – film: Agent Vinod (2012)
- Mera Naam Mary – film: Brothers (2015)
She is currently making news with her latest dance number, Mera Naam Mary, in filmmaker Karan Johar’s Brothers, which is a remake of the Hollywood film, Warrior (2011).
When recently asked about item songs, she said, “I love song and dance sequences; they’re very important to me. I think dancing and singing, especially in Hindi movies, is the main thing that attracts audiences. That, in fact, helps a film a lot, specially if it is a commercial movie. And of course, I enjoy doing item songs.”
Nargis Fakhri is an American model and actress.She made her acting debut with in 2011 in Bollywood movie Rockstar. This was followed by star roles in Madras Cafe (2013), Main Tera Hero (2014), and had a supporting role in the Hollywood film Spy (2015).
She did a special appearance to perform the item number “Dhating Naach” in the movie Phata Poster Nikhla Hero where Shahid Kapoor was the lead actor Shahid Kapoor. Someone commented ” Fakhri sizzles in the dance number, matching steps with Shahid”. Nargis also performed with Salman Khan in another item number “Yaar Na Miley” in the movie Kick.
Nargis Fakhri has also acted in Tamil and Bengali movies.
She has guts and lots of it. With a killing figure, bold scenes in the movie murder which people still remember, Mallika Sherawat has danced fabulously in a number of item song in a couple of hindi movies. Her hot item songs, worth recalling here are:
1. Mayya Mayya (Guru)
3. Jalebi Bai (Double Dhamaal)
4. Laila from Tezz
5. Shalu Ke Thumke (Bin Bulaye Baraati)
6. Ghaghara (Dirty Politics)
Never to give up, she moved from being a heroine to an item girl in Bollywood. Mallika has proved her versatility from ‘hissssing’ in a skin tight snake dress, to dancing in in skimpy clothes in ‘Maiyya Maiyya’ in ‘Guru’.
You may have difficulty in instantly recalling this Polish-German model – Claudia Ciesla, who registered her presence in Bollywood through as the item girl in the song Balma with Akshay Kumar in latter’s film Khiladi 786. The song was quite a success and is quite popular in discos. The song is composed by Himesh Reshammiya and the dancing is choreographed by Ganesh Acharya.
Born in Wodzisław Śląski, Poland, part of Silesia. Her father is Polish, her mother is German and she has two older sisters. Claudia Ciesla was also at the Bigg Boss house in the third season of the reality show.
Cinema lovers have yet to see more coming from Claudia.
Around the late 70s to early 80s the trends in Bollywood started changing. The vamp and the dancer merged into one attractive figure or rather seductive character and they began to perform bolder numbers.
One such actress with a successful career was Bindu.
She got recognition with Ittefaq and Do Raaste in 1969. From there she went on to write her success story with Shakti Samanta’s Kati Patang (1970), where she had a sizzling cabaret dance, “Mera Naam Shabnam”. This item number is remembered even today.
This was followed by her superb performances in 1974 as a seductress in Imtihan, and as a nymphomaniac in Hawas, leaving her audiences asking for more. Even her marriage could not stop her from become a sex symbol in the Hindi films. Along with Helen and Aruna Irani, Bindu was the Bollywood’s iconic cabaret dancer.
In the early 70s, three actresses Jayshree T., Bindu, Aruna Irani and Padma Khanna entered into what was Helen’s monopoly.
Khanna started her acting career in the 1961 Bhojpuri film Bhaiyya at the age of 12. But what earned her a much bigger recognition was her role of a cabaret dancer in Devanand’s fil Johnny Mera Naam. During 70s and 80s, she often played mostly dancers in Hindi and Bhojpuri cinema. Her famous movies were Loafer, Jaan-E-Bahaar and Pakeezah.
She acted in more than 400 movies of all Indian languages, among them “Saaz Aur Awaaz”, “Biwi Aur Makaan”, “Baharon Ke Sapne”, “Sangharsh”, “Dastaan”, “Hindustan Ki Kasam”, “Rampur Ka Lakshman” and “Saudagar”. In “Saudagar” she shared screen with legends like Nutan and Amitabh Bachchan and got critical acclaim for her role as Phool Bano.
Padma Khanna (born 10 March 1949) has had a wide ranging career – an Indian actress, dancer and director. She currently resides in New Jersey and runs the Indianica Dance Academy.
‘Chamma Chamma’ was an iconic song for slim and petite Bollywood actress Urmila Matondkar. While the China Gate failed to become a hit, despite the presence of actors like Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Danny Denzongpa, Mamta Kulkarni, Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Paresh Rawal but the item number became a super hit song .
Urmilla was first noticed in Rangeela opposite Jackie Shroff
A stylized version of the item song ’Chamma Chamma’ appeared in the Baz Luhrmann film musical, ’Mouilin Rouge’.
The undisputed queen of item numbers of Indian cinema, Helen is the top name in the industry as the charismatic dancer who probably set the cinema on fire. Perhaps it was the combination of her foreigner looks, flexible body which could do impeccable dance movements and remarkable beauty kept her very busy during her prime time. Helen did innumerable roles as a cabaret dancer – setting the trend for cabaret numbers.
Helen, born November 1938, got her significant break in Bollywood in the song “Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu” and there was no looking back. She was the most sizzling item girl of the ’60s and ’70s. Her styling, costume, hair, long eyelashes was a quintessential package, without which it was impossible to make a hit commercial movie in those years.
- Here is a list of Helen’s some most iconic numbers:
- Mere naam chin chin choo – film: Howrah Bridge (1958)
- Oyee Maa Oyee Maa Yeh Kya Ho Gaya – film: Paras Mani (1963)
- Gham Chhod ke Manao Rang Relly” – film: Gumnaam (1965)
- O Haseena Zulfowali” – film: Teesri Manzil (1966)
- Aa Jaane Jaan – film: Intaquam (1969)
- Piya tu ab to aaja – film: Caravan (1971)
- Ae Nujawan Hai Sab – film: Apradh (1972)
- Aao na gale lagao na – film: Mere Jeevan Sathi” (1972)
- Aaj Ki Raat Koi Aane Ko Hai – film: Anamika (1973)
- Mehbooba Mehbooba” – film: Sholay (1975)
- Yeh Pal Chanchal – film: Kalicharan (1976)
- Mungda main gud ki dali – film: Inkar(1978)
- Yeh mera dil pyar ka diwana – film: Don(1978)
She has acted with the stars like Shammi Kapoor, Jeetinder, Amitabh Bachchan. Her energy and enthusiasm level with unique seductive style are unrivaled even today!
In 2009, Helen was selected for the Padma Shri awards along with Aishwarya Rai and Akshay Kumar.
|Helen’s Video #1||Helen’s Video #2|
Rakhi Sawant (real name Neeru) is a dancer and actor who also dabbled in politics. Always known for her bold comments and outspoken nature, she once again shot into prominence due to a controversial kiss with a well known singer.
Rakhi Sawant is a well known dancer in Bollywood and Tellywood and has worked in many Hindi, Marathi, Telugu and Tamil films. She has been Television host as well. Rakhi has appeared in many music videos as well.
Some of her popular numbers are “Dekhta Hai Tu Kya” from the movie Krazzy 4 Her sizzling acts in “Loot Lo” Rakhi Item Song from the movie “Loot” and ‘PARTY PUNJABI STYLE’ have contributed to her fame.
Bollywood is known and shall always be known for its glamour quotient where larger than life things attract and entertain the fans of hindi movies. Item girls have been an inseparable part of the Indian movie giving vicarious pleasure to the viewers who watch the movie or just the video clips on internet or YouTube.Item girls have created a place for themselves – which can be judged from their immense popularity. It is an open fact that a lot of leading actresses turned towards item numbers and multiplied their fan following. Hope you enjoyed this article. Also recommended for you are:
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Disclaimer and credits: This is no piece of original research as most of the information and pictures are compiled from published sources such as Wikipedia.