The only reason I chose this song is because this is a fun song and has to be taken in that spirit. Mere angane mein… song appears twice in the 1981 movie Laawaris one in a female voice and the other in a male voice. I have selected the song with the male voice because visually I have a lot to describe in it. Background information is that before the movie was made Amitabh Bachchan would sing this song in musical shows and lift his wife Jaya in his arms at a particular point indicating that a short wife can be treated as a child.
Movie: Laawaris means orphan or bastard. Produced and directed by Prakash Mehra this movie starred Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman, late Amjad Khan, Ranjeet, late Satyen Kappoo, Suresh Oberoi and Rakhee in pivotal roles. The movie is a typical Prakash Mehra-Amitabh Bachchan potboiler action movie.
Ragbir (Amjad Khan) has an illicit relationship with a singer Vidhya (Rakhee), leaves her pregnant and goes back to his home at a village near Srinagar, Kashmir. Like he had ditched Vidhya, someone ditches his sister Sheela and she commits suicide. He realizes his mistake and tries to reverse it. When he returns to the Vidhya’s home, she gets the message that, Vidhya had died during childbirth and the child was also still born. Her late brother’s friend (Satyen Kappoo) had actually left the child with a pimp, Gangu Ganpat (Dr. Shreeram Lagoo) and confiscates Vidhya’s wealth. The pimp names the child Heera after a street dog. The man makes the child work hard for his own luxurious purposes and does not let him educate himself, though the boy likes studying. Heera (Amitabh Bachchan) grows up and then only is told that he is an orphan.
He goes to Srinagar and joins a job with Mahender (Ranjeet) in his lumber yard. Mahender is actually Ragbir’s son through another wife, Kamini (Bindu). In between, Heera finds time to romance Mohini (Zeenat Aman). Mahender has a sister Madhu (Madhu Malini), whom Heera treats as a sibling. Mahender resents this relationship because on Raksha Bandhan day, since he was late, Madhu ties the rakhee on Heera’s wrist instead of his. Mahender tortures his employees and other people living in the village. Heera starts fighting for the welfare of the employees and the others to the chagrin of Mahender.
Eventually Heera leaves his job and starts supporting the tortured people. Mahender creates a misunderstanding about Heera with the very people he had supported and they beat him up. By then Mohini has found out from Gangu, who has turned up in that village, about Heera’s parentage and informs Ragbir about it. After Heera is beaten up and becomes unconscious, Ragbir brings him into his own mansion. Soon it is Madhu’s birthday and Heera sings this song for her.
Heera has been regularly listening to this song when broadcast on the radio. That is how he is so familiar with it.
Song: Lyrics are by Anjaan and music by Kalyanji-Anandji. The comparison of women to different objects has to be taken very lightly, in a jovial manner.
In the song, Amitabh Bachchan asks, “What are you doing in my courtyard? Popular people are only notorious. People who have tall wives they are popular, too. All you have to do is make her stand on the ground near a house. This way there is no use of a ladder and we can reach the roof easily.”
Next he talks about obese and dark wives, “People having fat wives are also famous. Just make her lie on a bed and you don’t need a mattress for it! People having dark-complexioned wives are also well-known. You can apply them like kohl (kajal/surma) in our eyes!”
Next is the turn of fair wives and short wives, “People having fair wives are also famed. They need to be seated in a room; there is no need of lights there! People having a short wife are also admired. Just lift her on your arms; there is no need for children!”
Video: Cinematography is by N Satyen. This is essentially a party song.
When Amitabh Bachchan begins to sing this song in the movie, Amjad Khan is really shocked, since he had heard it from Rakhee before. Amitabh Bachchan actually acts out the parts of the different types of women, in the relevant costumes. On top of that he dances with these costumes, which makes it funnier.
To give a comic effect first Amitabh Bachchan is made to wear stilts to give the effect of a very tall and lean woman. The man is already a thin 6 footer and then he is made to stand on stilts. A very short man also stands before him which makes it more hilarious. The thin plaits are also funny.
Next comes the obese woman costume, which is entirely padded from the inside. The way he dances, it feels like a football bouncing on the ground. The dark-complexioned women do not only wear white saris, which denote widowhood in Hindus. This is worth criticizing. They could have made him wear any other light color sari that would have brought out the complexion.
When Amitabh Bachchan reaches the time he has to sing about a fair lady, he forgets the song. At that moment, Amjad Khan remembers the song sung by Rakhee and reminds his son Amitabh about it. Then Amitabh continues the song.
When he comes to the last part about short women, he goes on his knees to represent them. Then singing, “Ade godh mein bitha lo,” he jumps into the arms of Ranjeet, which was very graceful and funny.
The music is really feet-tapping and people tend to start shaking a leg the moment they hear it.
Artists: Singer Amitabh Bachchan (and Alka Yagnik in the female version). Actors Amitabh Bachchan sings the song in the movie, while Zeenat Aman, Amjad Khan, Ranjeet, Bindu and others look on. (Rakhee sings the song in the female version, with Amjad Khan and others looking on.)
Cultural influence: Initially when this song was released along with the movie, many factions of the audience particularly women considered it to have derogatory connotations for them. A boy sang this song in our class during a free lecture in school. The teacher, who was in class, did not like it and said that it throws a bad light on women. This was then. Now there are so many songs that objectify women and show them in a really bad light. But they are being accepted as normal. This is the irony of today’s Bollywood.