Wednesday, June 4, 2008

On Mobile Phones and a Hindi Song on Mobiles

I am sure it would be commonplace to see so many mobile phones proliferating the Indian landscape in 2008. But I still remember an age in this country, when we did not even possess landlines. We got a land line fairly late in my life. I guess we got it sometime in 1989 or so. Those days, we hadn't even seen mobile phones. Earlier, if one had to make a national long distance call, it used to be very difficult to do so and the rates used to be astronomical. But the late Rajiv Gandhi ushered in the telecommunication revolution in the country. Much later, we got the mobile phones and when they got in the country, they were very costly. The outgoing local calls were Rs. 16.80 [$0.42] per minute and the incoming calls were half that rate. One of my father's friends had bought a mobile. He was a businessman and could afford to do so. Now, the calling rates are among the lowest in the world and we have more mobile phones in India than they have in the United States. I guess we are second only to China the world over in mobile teledensity. Isn't it great progress?

I am sure the young people won't even remember but we once had a song in a Hindi movie, with a well known actor featured in it. And the song was 'What is Mobile Number?'. I am sure some of my ossified and stiff-upper lip friends would find it a very stupid or even a nonsensical song. But what is interesting here is that [a] a famous actor, Govinda, was featured in it, [b] the song shows that there was a time in the country when mobile phones were so rare and were such a luxury that the hero in the movie would woo the leading lady by asking for her mobile number. The song finally ends with the leading lady saying, "Sorry, don't have a mobile / Take my pager number". The film is Haseena Maan Jaayegi (1999) and it stars Govinda and Sanjay Dutt. The leading ladies are Pooja Batra and Karisma Kapoor. This song was featured on Govinda [who is presently a Member of Parliament] and Karisma Kapoor. The lyrics are by Sameer. If you would like to download the song, there is a free link here.

Today, in 2008, if any Hindi lyricist ever came up with such a song, the movie would bomb at the box office. But in 1999, when the public at large didn't own mobile phones, the song could have been written. If you look at film songs from an analytical perspective, they could lead to very interesting cultural analysis.


truptee said...

Writings such as this song.."What is mobile number" still exists.. very much..

These are stunts that basically are carried out by the film production houses to woo the masses.. who mostly hail from villages..[all those avid Govind and Mithun film buffs].. for them any song with any UNDERSTANDABLE English line meant/means popular!!

Trust me.. they will keep churning out such numbers till there is crowd in villages..

Good blog!!

Keep it up.


Roomy Naqvy said...

Thanks a lot for such enriching comments.

ali said...

just read your write up on hindi songs-mobile connection,the way its written is quite engaging.the problem is not to do with people liking or disliking govinda or mithun.both are good actors in their own right and baggage.what is interesting to look is the linkage you have established with mobile being cultural phenomenon going through transition and growth.and there is rural-urban continuum attached to it.hope some day i become multi talented and a man of diverse interests like you. all kudos to you for making me introduce to the world of financial journalism. its been worthwhile and has broadened my infant intellectual scope.cheers ustaad

Roomy Naqvy said...

Aha! Thx.