We believe item number is a modification of Mujra dance in modern contest in the films of Indian sub-continent. A sample of item number is attached here (Fevicol Se …, featuring Kareena Kapoor in film ‘Dabaang 2’):
An item number or an item song or an item dance is a musical performance, a part of Indian films, usually added to attract audience. The main aim of such musical score is to entertain and promote the film. Item numbers are usually used to promote the film in TV and internet by the means of catchy tunes and sexually provocative dance sequence.
Characteristics of an item number:
- An Item number doesn’t need to be a part of the film story line or plot. Some film makers integrate item numbers to the film’s storyline, others don’t.
- Tune is catchy, upbeat and dance friendly.
- The lyrics is sexual and usually have double meaning lines.
- Dance is performed by scantly clad item girl or item dancer and moves are usually sexually provocative.
- Item girls are usually other than the leading actors. Sometimes lead actors can also play the role of item girls (or item boys).
- In some cases established actors are also featured in a ‘special appearance’ item number.
As the item song doesn’t need to be a part of story, the film makers can use a stock song as an item number in any film.
This is going to be a new post. We will cover the history of item dances from as early as 1930s. We will discuss the evolution of the item dances since then in next part of the iMujra ‘Item Number’ series.
Photo – Kareena Kapoor performing an item number of ‘Heroine’
- History of Item Number in Bollywood
Although not a dance legend, Devika Rani was the first actress to kiss on screen in a Bollywood movie.