8 Memorable Outfits From Bollywood's Hottest Item Songs

Kanak Devnani , 23 Jul 2020
Item Songs, Helen, Malaika Arora & Priyanka Chopra (Source: Instagram | @punjabiworldcinema, @bollyobsessed, @nickyanka.glob)
Item Songs, Helen, Malaika Arora & Priyanka Chopra (Source: Instagram | @punjabiworldcinema, @bollyobsessed, @nickyanka.glob)

If you’re a fan of Bollywood you would know that item numbers or songs have been around for a while. Moreover, they have only increased in popularity in the last decade or so. They are now an integral part of many films where they are a crowd magnet. An item song, if done well, pull audiences to the theatres and ensure success at the box office. So what really is an item song? Typically you would recognise an item song by its catchy lyrics, upbeat music, fun dance sequences along with alluring dance moves and sexy costume changes from the starlets.

Over the years, since its first introduction, the side characters would heavily enact these upbeat or seductive songs. However, this has since evolved, from special appearances to even Bollywood lead actresses performing them. Many times these songs have relaunched careers or made us see the actress in an unexpected and refreshing new avatar. Currently, we’re going through an era of filmmakers and artists creating remixed versions of old beloved classics to bring them into the modern era. Some being more successful than others. Along with catchy tunes and jaw-dropping dance moves which are iconic in their own right, the costumes and fashion choices become equally popular. I’ve listed a few top item songs, in my opinion, whose outfits were equally noticeable and created a stir.

Keep scrolling to check out 8 memorable outfits from iconic item songs:

1. Yeh Mere Dil Pyaar Ka Diwana

Helen was the heartthrob of the nation in the ‘60s. and ‘70s. Dubbed the original item girl, Helen is known for amazing dance skills and her many famous cabaret-style numbers that exuded sex appeal like no other. Her performance in Don was the most sizzling moment in the movie. While the movie and song were remade in 2006 with Kareena Kapoor paying homage to Helen, the original is still considered iconic. Mani Rabadi, the films costume designer and Helen, worked to conceptualise this burlesque style dress that was super sexy but classy. The outfit consisted of a white low-cut top and low rise skirt with side cutouts and very risque high-slits. It was also embellished with a red stone border and paired with silver sandals. If any other girl had worn this, it could have looked gaudy, but on Helen, it just works perfectly.

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I live only in the present. That's why when people ask me whether I liked Kareena perform yeh mera dil in The Don Returns, I always tell them that she has done a wonderful job. I have completely forgotten my own performance in Don. So, for me it's as if I am seeing the performance for the first time. I am now leading a life of semi-retirement with my husband Salim who was by my side in my most difficult days. Helen Richardson Khan Courtesy: SantaBanta.com Follow👇🏼 @punjabiworldcinema #punjabiworldcinema #salmankhan #salimkhan #helen #don #amitabhbachchan #shahrukhkhan #kareenakapoor #kareenakapoorkhan #yehmeradilpyarkadeewana #bollywoodsongs #bollywoodflashback #bollywoodfashion #pran #bollywoodmovies #bollywoodcelebrity #sanjaydutt #sunnydeol #diljitdosanjh #akshaykumar #sunnyleone

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2. Ek Do Teen

One of Madhuri Dixit’s very first recognizable songs Ek Do Teen, from the movie Teezab, was what really rocketed her into stardom. If you grew up in the late ’80s and ‘90s you couldn’t escape this upbeat song. It was played everywhere, and her outfit re-created millions of times by fans, even to this date. An instantly recognizable and cult classic look, Madhuri rocked a vibrant one-shoulder pink top and multicolour skirt with silver accessories. Fun fact, Saroj Khan made Madhuri rehearse for 16 days before finally shooting the song. After the release and success of both the movie and song, Madhuri received many offers.

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Tezaab November 11, 1988. “Pyarelalji came up with a fantastic orchestration and Saroj Khan with dance moves that won her the first Filmfare Award for Best Choreography. And Madhuri Dixit realising that this song could be a turning point for her, rehearsed it daily for around threefour hours for a month before the shoot,” says Chandra. The song was filmed in eight days on a lavish set created by Bijon Dasgupta at Mumbai’s Mehboob Studio. – N Chandra, 2013. Caption courtesy India Times. @madhuridixitnene @sarojkhanofficial #tezaab #30retroyears #30yearsoftezaab #30yearsofekdoteen #ekdoteen #tezaab #madhuridixit #madhuridixitnene #originalisbetter #nchandra #laxmikantpyarelal #javedakhtar #sarojkhan #babaazmi #anilkapoor #alkayagnik #bestchoreography #filmfare #hindifilms #bollywood #retrobollywood #mehboobstudio #jacquelinefernandez #baaghi2 #mohini

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3. Choli Ke Peeche 

Once again on our list is the evergreen Madhuri Dixit. Madhuri is an icon who has played several powerful characters in film and graced us with her amazing dance skill in many now-classic songs. This saucy number from the blockbuster film Khalnayak, caused some controversy when it first released due to its double-meaning lyrics. Super catchy to this day, Madhuri rocks a more traditional Rajasthani influenced ensemble from head-to-toe. From her red mirrored ghagra-choli to more traditional accessories like white ivory bangles, the song popularised the look that became all the rage across the country. The red colour looked amazing, accentuating her gorgeous figure, and allowed fans to see a more playful sexy side of Madhuri.

4. Kajra Re 

If you don’t know Kaja Re, what rock have you been living under? Literally the item song of the decade, Kaja Re, is played everywhere from clubs to weddings or any occasion really. This song definitely made its mark as the new classic that we all still enjoy to date. Let’s not forget the famous hook step everyone automatically launches into once the chorus begins. Aishwariya Rai, who made a special appearance with her future husband and father-in-law, stuns in this ethnic lehenga-choli with minimal make up that is mostly only kajal and lip gloss. It was a refreshing change from her usual dolled up looks at the time. Created by fashion designer, Aki Narula and choreographed by Vaibhavi Merchant, both the tune and brocade choli really caught the attention of the masses.

5. Munni Badnaam Hui

More often then not the ladies in the quintessential item songs are dressed in a lehenga-choli of sorts and Munni was no exception. While there was still a sprinkling of item songs in films, the immense success of Munni and Malaika Arora’s sexy avatar really amplified the popularity of item songs in films moving forward. One of the greatest hits of the decade, Malaika’s green outfit was a fan favourite and the most recognisable one from all the others in the video. Interesting fact, Malaika has 3 outfit changes in the video. While two were designed by Ashley Lobo, one was done by her friend Rick Roy. Since the music had a Bihari vibe to it, Malaika co-designed an outfit with him, taking inspiration from the traditional Sujni embroidery from Bihar. The jewellery and accessories in the song were bought locally as well.

6. Sheila Ki Jawaani

Katrina Kaif rocked Bollywood with this chart-busting song from Tees Maar Khan. For the first time, we saw Katrina in a completely different, sexy avatar compared to her previous cookie-cutter looks. She dazzles us with her dance moves and sultry makeover. It was one sexy outfit after another showing off the abs she works so hard for. Some of her more noticeable looks were a gold harem pant number and a more traditional pink half-sari style. The spicy music paired with her deadly dance moves cements its place among some of the top item songs on everyone’s playlists.

7. Ram Chahe Leela

Released in 2013, Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela by Sanjay Leela Bhansali was a big hit at the box office along with its music. However, this alluring number by Priyanka Chopra was a standout. Looking absolutely stunning in this track, she made even the difficult dance moves look effortless and graceful. Let’s not forget that steamy moment when she subtly buttoned up her blouse before launching into the dance. This key moment and step became all rage, with fans emulating this step when recreating the dance. Styled in a fitted white choli and dhoti skirt, designed by Anju ModiRam Chahe Leela received a lot of attention and critical claim for its costumes and music video with many praising Priyanka’s fantastic performance. 

8. Dilbar

This remix of the 1999’s chartbuster is a modern version of the song with a modern Arabic twist to it. This song was a big hit for Nora Fatehi, catapulting her career and getting known as the Dilbur girl in 2018. Featured in John Abraham‘s action-drama Satyameva Jayate, this hit number showcases Nora’s amazing belly dancing skills to the world. Very different from the original version that featured Sushmita Sen and Sanjay Kapoor, Nora sets the screen on fire in her many sultry outfit changes. However, the one standout look was the first slinky red outfit with intricate beading and fringe on the blouse. The matching red skirt also featured thigh-high slits to allow movement as is the norm with most belly dancing outfits.

What’s your favourite item song moment? Let us know in the comments below.

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