Tan Badan (Anand, 1986)
WARNING: You may have to forgive the rambling nature of this particular post. I am kind of obsessive about this movie.
Well…not exactly the most auspicious start to The Govinda Project. Tan Badan, the film that gave Govinda his first lead role, is one of The Impossible Six, and probably the one film of The Impossible Six I am the most desperate to get my hands on. Ever since I last wrote about this film I have received numerous emails from people as eager as I am to get their hands on a copy, if I ever find one.*
No kidding, I haven’t given up my obsessive searching yet, and still, no dice. All I have managed to acquire for my troubles is the official soundtrack album on vinyl - proof that once upon a time, this film actually did exist.
And in fact, the soundtrack album (as well as being totally awesome in its own right – seriously, I LOVE the songs by Anand-Milind; and having big giant technicolour pictures of Govinda and his co-star Khushboo front and back) has shed a little bit of additional light on the ongoing Tan Badan obsessive’s search for information. Like THE ACTUAL NAMES OF THE SONGS (versus what they are mislabelled as all over the internet). And the fact that there were apparently FIVE SONGS IN THE FILM…but (sadly) I’ve only ever been able to find 4 videos online. (The one I am missing is called Kisiko Main Aisi Lagti Hoon and is sung by Aika Yagnik, so I’m guessing it was picturised solely on Khushboo. No Govinda, no interest online?)
So here’s what we have to go on. Four videos, for the songs Gale Lag Jaa (mislabeled as O Saathiyaa on the ‘net), Krishna-Krishna (frequently labeled as Meri Nahin Bansi Ki Dhun), Biwi Husband Ko, and Main Bhi Jawan Hoon.
Tan Badan was Govinda’s big break into Bollywood – his first leading role, though based on the variety of sources I’ve read, while it was his first film in the can, it was not his first film RELEASED (and hence, not actually the public’s first official glimpse of him).
I wish I could tell him not to make Money Hai Toh Honey Hai. But he's got like 20+ years to go before that even happens.
But would he have known that would be the case at the time? As such it’s hard not to watch the frustratingly scant available footage of Govinda in Tan Badan and not see a young (oh my god, he’s so young!) man giving everything he’s got to make a lasting first impression in an industry notoriously hard to break into.
GALE LAG JAA (also known as O SAATHIYAA)
This is my favourite song and my favourite clip of all the Tan Badan clips for one very significant reason: THE DANCING.
While in the other songs Govinda gets a chance to show off his versatility as an incredibly emotive actor, his ability to disco-dance in extremely tight (SHINY SILVER!) pants, and convey his initial reluctance to be seduced and then romantically frolic around a fountain without sacrificing his masculinity (okay, your mileage may vary on that), in this song, a dream/fantasy sequence that transforms Govinda and his heroine into (possibly) mythological figures, the dancing leaves me breathless.
Govinda is – and judging from Tan Badan has always been – an extremely emotive dancer. I know next to nothing about the technical side of dancing, and about 4 minutes into the clip when he starts doing what appears to me to be classical dancing, I don’t know if he’s doing it well or if it would cause purists to gasp in horror. But he always, ALWAYS looks to me, when he is dancing, like there is NOTHING ELSE he would rather be doing, and I especially love when Govinda does classical dancing on film.
This is what I am referring to when I say "classical". If I am utterly misguided and should call it something else, please tell me!
There’s no obvious counting in his head, no sign that he’s wondering what he’s having for dinner that night, or is tired and hot, or that he hates his co-star and just wants the film shoot to wrap already. Govinda dances with pure unabashed emotion and Gale Lag Jaa is a great example of his dancing charisma and talent, right at the start of his career.
KRISHNA-KRISHNA (also known as Meri Nahin Bansi Ki Dhun)
This is the disco Govinda that I’m pretty sure I’m going to become quite familiar with over the next few films in his filmography. Krishna-Krishna is most memorable for the SILVER PANTS OF AWESOME.
To be honest, I really don’t know how he got into them. THEY ARE SO TIGHT.
The ‘story’ of the song seems to involve making Govinda’s character Ravi appear as a badmaash - he starts with a drink, before DISCO DANCING IN TIGHT SILVER PANTS around a blinged out swimming pool, making sure to stop and mack on all the girls he meets along the way. Krishna-Krishna features twice on the soundtrack album, once on Side A and once on Side B, so was obviously the hit of the film…or was expected to be.
The choreography for this song involves a lot of pelvic thrusting, rolling and slithery hip moves poolside, as well as some flamboyant disco arm thrusts in the air. Honestly – I know disco was kind of big in the early 80s in India, but I don’t REALLY get why Govinda earned a reputation for being like the pelvic thrust king (especially now that I’ve seen Dancer, though I still have my suspicions that was a pisstake). I think the songs in later films that tend to incorporate the disco-style and pelvic thrusting are possibly the more flamboyantly costumed, cracktastic masterpieces that stick in the memory. No-one remembers a simple frolicking in the fields love song if you have silver pants, mirrorballs and and abundance of pelvic thrusting. That’s my theory. And unfortunately, it does Govinda a great disservice at times.
BIWI HUSBAND KO
Watching Tan Badan in fragments like this it’s interesting, because you can definitely make assumptions based on the hypothesis that this was supposed to be Govinda’s launch (I have no idea if that was the case, or if…as may actually more likely be the scenario, he was just an actor conveniently filling a role, who then later became successful). If Gale Lag Jaa shows Govinda’s abilities as a classical dancer, and Krishna-Krishna his abilities as a contemporary dancer; then Biwi Husband Ko showcases his abilities AS AN ACTOR.
The setup, as far as I can make out: Govinda’s character and his new wife are dining outdoors at their hotel, when an extremely dodgy waiter offers them sherbet on the house (I think – my comprehension is questionable). BUT IT SEEMS THAT THE SHERBET IS SPIKED, because Govinda launches into a clearly intoxicated song about his “shameless wife” (I think!) and she retaliates.
Rather than a dance, the picturisation relies heavily on facial and full body expression as Govinda lip syncs the song, essentially requiring him to act it out. People always ask me why I love Govinda so much and this is why: he can sing (hah, wait until I get up to his CD!), dance AND act well.
Best part: when the table he and his wife are sitting at LIFTS SEVERAL FEET INTO THE AIR – you can see them both clutching the table, then as Govinda emotes his lines, his ‘wife’ is clutching on for dear life as he seemingly carelessly waves his arms around in the air with nothing to hold him to his seat.
Of course, there is still a little bit of dancing, which interestingly illustrates something Govinda does as A NEWBIE to films that some established actors in Bollywood still haven’t got their heads around. About five minutes into the song (starting around the 4.50 mark or so) Govinda’s wife pulls him up to dance with her. But this song is about their frustration with each other, and he’s angry and frustrated.
So HE DANCES THAT WAY. He dances, but he dances IN CHARACTER, imbuing his movements with jerkiness and awkwardness, before his anger all spills out. Seriously – this is his FIRST FILM. That’s a little bit impressive, no?
Especially compared to the state of the industry nowadays, when people are getting a little disillusioned with some of the recent(ish) launches and their apparent lack of X factor.
MAIN BHI JAWAN HOON
Although the clip circulated on the net has a title card “Introducing Govinda” clumsily edited on to the beginning (clearly it doesn’t belong to this scene), it’s unclear whether that tiny snippet – chill-inducing as it is to die-hard Chi Chi fans - even comes from Tan Badan. Adding to my skepticism: on the soundtrack album, this song appears LAST.
It’s hard to decipher the song story in the clip – Govinda and his wife? heroine? embrace in a room, framed in an open door with billowing curtains, kind of suggesting reconciliation or safety in each others arms. We cut away to a dreamlike scenario set at an extremely dry looking fountain. Except here, it seems like the girl is attempting, initially, to win Govinda over – either they have argued and she is trying to seduce her way back into his graces, or she is just trying to seduce him. Either way at first he seems reluctant:
And curiously, this is just the tip of the iceberg of Govinda playing The Guy Unwilling to Be Seduced.…but then gives in, joining his lady-friend in frolicking around the fountain. And Main Bhi Jawan Hoon soon turns into a fine example of how to make the most of limited resources.
I don’t know if there was a water shortage (the fountain they frolic around is BONE DRY) or a money shortage, but despite this, someone clearly decided the film NEEDED A RAIN SONG. What better way to spice up the proceedings than to get the heroine’s…err…nightie…all wet?
"You got me stumped..."
I’ll tell you what’s better: GOVINDA UNDER A GARDEN HOSE.
If that isn’t definitive proof that the creative minds behind Tan Badan were PURE GENIUS VISIONARIES, then…well…I don’t know what is.
One thing is for sure: I need to see this film in its entirety MORE THAN EVER.
In the extremely unlikely event that someone involved in DVD distribution or you know, WHO CAN MAKE THINGS HAPPEN is reading, then please note: there is definitely demand for a Tan Badan DVD (or VCD – I’m desperate, I can forego subtitles!). Or if anyone out there has a spare copy just lying around gathering dust in their garage or something…pay it forward, yaar!