I think it was some time in the early 90’s. The song would begin to play on TV, in the then ubiquitous Doordarshan, with a rather cocky chorus of “kuk kuk kuk kuk…,” and my father would immediately rush to the knob on the side of the screen. To change channels. This happened always, without fail, when my brother and me were in front of the TV. And every time I would be disappointed at not being able to watch Madhuri’s thumkas and expressions. Even Nina Gupta’s, for that matter. But who could say a word against appa. Those were not movements for children to watch, or lyrics for kids to hear, he said. Poor him, the more he tried to shield his children from the trash the content in TV was increasingly becoming (in his eyes, and that, in the 90’s), the less he was able to withstand their onslaught. What with DD Metro coming into the picture, that flamboyant, colorful cousin of the dull and serious Doordarshan, our exposure to cheesy, saucy, raunchy songs from Bollywood and Kollywood only kept increasing.
I remember the time when Criminal was released. 1995. The Superhit Muquablas and other countdown shows would play that lovely song “Tum Mile, Dil Khile”. Ah, how lusciously sensuous Nagarjuna and Manisha looked together, standing on a dock by a riverside, romancing into the setting sun. Alas! It was not for us to enjoy romance at that age. Whenever the song was aired, my father would jump into action. Now he had devised a new method. He would change the color settings of the TV so that it went completely black. So we could hear the song, for the lead singers had sung it so well (and probably he thought we were old enough to listen to it), but watching was prohibited. With Nagarjuna caressing Manisha with such sensuality, we certainly did not expect Appa to let us enjoy the song with him. Enjoy we did though, furtively watching it when he and mom were out for work.
As the quotient of sensuality and sleaze kept steadily increasing in Indian songs, my father eventually relented. We had begun watching “Oorvasi Oorvasi”, “Mukkala Muqabla”, “Kadhal Rojave”, all in front of him. No more hiding. Although, we were aware of his grumbles and mumbles behind us, we learned not to take them too much to heart. After all, he was a parent. And parents had their own fears. But we were also growing up, and we knew what we were doing.
It was at the turn of the century, when I was preparing for my board exams, that I got hooked on the MTV. And boy, the songs that they played! I instantly fell in love with a lot of boys there – from Backstreet, Boyzone, Ricky Martin, Savage Garden, Ronan Keating. And not to mention the girls – Britney, Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion, Madonna. My oh my! However, I wouldn’t dare watch some of these songs in front of my parents, yet. In fact, I wouldn’t dare watch any of them in front of them. I was supposed to be studying after returning from school, or during those study holidays. Yet my days were never complete without a 2 hour dose of MTV every day. My brother had become a huge cartoon fan by then, and would lap off Swat Cats, Ghostbusters and Dexter with great enthusiasm. He did not care much for the music, nor I for the cartoons (although, having to watch them day in and day out with the sibling made both of us eventually like both). We both had an arrangement. As soon as we returned from school, he would spend an hour with his cartoons. Then the remote would come to me, for my music. And then, just about half an hour before mom would return from office, we would tidy up, wash up, put on the lights, light the lamps in puja room and play some “good cd” in our player – like Vishnu Sahasranamam or Kanda Shashti Kavacham. And yes, without fail, put TV on Discovery Channel or Animal Planet before turning it off. If dad or mom decided to investigate what we had been watching and pressed on the ‘Last Channel’ button, they would be happy thinking their kids were such science buffs. Smart we were, eh!
As I entered college my interest in English music went stale. I did not get time to watch more MTV, and MTV too decided to take a route away from music, and I become quite enamored by the local music scene, thanks to my college gang. No, not classical or traditional Tamil music, but ‘local’ music, the ‘Machi, mamu’ kind. Tamil hero Vikram became my biggest favorite, and his songs, my anthem. Not to mention Suriya. By the time I started working, my attention had turned a bit backwards, to Illayaraja and SPB. A long list of favorites, both old and new, English, Hindi and Tamil, were my constant companions, to and from work, and even at the workplace. Appa had stopped his shielding act for good. He realized maybe, that it was no good, and instead started enjoying the songs and videos with me.
Now why have I recounted my ‘music loving history’ out of the blue? Its because, now “Blue hai pani pani…”. For the past 3-4 years, I had almost completely stopped watching song videos, for they had become either too sleazy or too local for my taste (largely, not all). And for the reason that with an infant, I hardly found time, and in the time I found, I chose to read or write or watch an English movie. So when Sid suddenly started singing Lungi danch, lungi danch, I was surprised and amused. Not shocked, yet. But shock has come, all too soon. My son is singing and dancing to Pani Pani, Gandi Baat, Battameez Dil, and the like. I didn’t bother much at first, but off late, he demands I show him the Pani Pani video on You Tube. And with all the women dancing with almost nothing on, I squirm and shift in my seat every time the song plays. I now realize how Appa must have felt. Still, I try to reason, we did turn out all right, so will the kid, won’t he? I don’t know the answer to that yet, and till the time I can help it, I will try distracting him with something else, every time he demands watching those bikini clad women waltzing on the beach. Or maybe, switch off the computer screen, a la Appa?