I love everything about Bollywood dance numbers—the music, the staging, the absolutely mad dancing, which is nothing short of total happiness on two feet. One can’t help but feel good after a brilliant Bollywood number; their energy is irresistibly infectious. I tend to favor the 1950s-1970s era, but there’s plenty of great modern stuff, too. So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite Bollywood numbers. (And one Kollywood number, too.)
1958: "Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu" from Howrah Bridge, starring one of the great Bollywood legends, Helen Richardson.
1966: "Jaan Pehechan-Ho" from Gumnaam, featuring Mohammed Rafi as a playback singer. Sheer genius. I can’t believe these dancers didn’t get concussions from this madcap choreography. The character Enid, played by Thora Birch, was seen watching this number in the great film Ghost World.
1973: "Dil Jalon Ka Dil Jalake" from Zanjeer. I adore this song, even though I have no idea what she’s saying or what’s going on. I love the tres unimpressed dude in the glasses. (Who totally looks like Eddie Izzard.)
2002: "Dola Re Dola" from Devdas. Just all kinds of awesome.
And here’s an added bonus—this is a Kollywood (the Tamil equivalent of Hindi cinema) clip that is really just the greatest fucking thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Praise be to Kamal Hassan.
1981: "Solla Solla Enna Perumai" from Ellam Inba Mayam.