MERA NAAM CHIN CHIN CHU – HELEN, ASHOK KUMAR – HOWRAH BRIDGE

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I love this song not only because I love late Geeta Dutt’s mellifluous voice. This song has a unique place in my heart due to the word Chin chu in it. Since childhood, my Dad has been calling me Chinchu. It became my pet name. 🙂

Movie: This song has appeared in the movie Howrah Bridge (1958) directed by late Shakti Samanta. This movie is based on incidents happening on and around the Howrah Bridge that connects Calcutta to Howrah on the Hoogly River. The song Mera naam chin chin chu… also appeared in a more recent film Salaam Bombay (1988). This song is even mentioned in the Karan Johar movie Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998).

Rakesh (Ashok Kumar) and Madan (Chaman Puri) are brothers, living with their father in Rangoon. Madan has fallen into bad company and steals the family heirloom, which is in the shape of a dragon, with some cash and runs away to India. Within a few days his dead body is found near Calcutta’s Howrah Bridge. Rakesh travels to Calcutta to find out more about the mystery of Madan’s death. He also wants to recover the family heirloom. While traveling to Calcutta via a ship, he encounters Edna (Madhubala), a dancer. His mission takes him to a shady hotel where Madan was last seen.

It is at this place in the movie that the song has been placed.

Song: Music composer is O P Nayyar and the lyrics have been written by the famous lyricist and Urdu poet Qamar Jalalabadi.

The song goes thus, “My name is Chin Chin Chu. It is the full moon night, we are together, here. Hello Mister, how do you do?”

The singer introduces herself, first as Chin Chin Chu and then asks the spectators to join her in the dance, since it is the full moon night at that time.

The song continues, “Mister, I have come from China. My heart is also Chinese. My youth is from Singapore and I stretch like I am from Shanghai. Keep your heart in control. You might become mad (over me). My name is Chin Chin Chu. It is the full moon night, we are together, here. Hello Mister, how do you do?”

The singer says that she is from China. The next line may mean 2 things at the same time. Cheeni is Hindi for Chinese as well as the word also means sugar in Hindi. The next line says that her youth is like those in Singapore and she stretches her body in such a beautiful way that it can be compared to the beautiful City of Shanghai.

The singer comes to the last part of the song and says, “O Mister, I and you have met, which is really good. After looking at you, my heart flutters. I am the daughter of Alladin. I will spread my magic. Now, you are Sindbad the Sailor. My name is Chin Chin Chu. It is the full moon night, we are together, here. Hello Mister, how do you do?”

Here we need to look at the meaning of each line. There might not be any connection between the lines, so we cannot look at an overall meaning of this song. All we can say is that the girl is fascinated by one of the spectators. She repeats the same thing in different ways.

Video: Cinematography is by Chandu.

The dance occurs in the dance hall of the hotel, where Ashok Kumar has just checked in. Initially 4 male extras play a game of dice and get up, while making movements like they are doing warm-ups before exercise!

The claps, in the beginning of the song, propel the song and dance sequence forward. Helen has been made up like a Chinese or Burmese. Helen’s dress looks like those of a Chinese woman. In the song itself the singer says that she has come from China.

The dance has been picked up from Goa. The steps, which have been used for the dance, appear like small epileptic fits! Suddenly, Helen’s dress changes and that shocks Ashok Kumar. The extra dancers also change into sailors’ dresses.

Artists: Singer is Geeta Dutt and the song is picturized on Helen. Ashok Kumar, K N Singh and Madan Puri are watching the dance.

Cultural Influence: ‘Chinese’ girl doing a Goan dance is the impression we get. Like music is music, dance is also dance. As long as, it pleases the eyes, it is a good dance, even though they have mixed and matched the steps and the costume.

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