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Monday, November 29, 2021

Chaiyya Chaiyya to Gur Nalon Ishq Mitha: Malaika Arora is numero uno as Bollywood’s dancing diva

On Malaika Arora's birthday, we take a look back at how she redefined Bollywood's dance songs, that were beyond "item numbers."

Written by Mimansa Shekhar | New Delhi |
October 23, 2021 11:56:35 am
malaika arora old songsMalaika Arora has given us dozens of blockbuster songs. (Photo: Express Archivess)

Malaika Arora was among the first VJs when MTV arrived in India. If you’ve grown up in 90s, then Malaika’s name is synonymous with memorable Indipop music videos too.

Malaika is among the most popular faces in Bollywood today. From promoting her fitness mantra to judging reality shows on TV, she has done much more than one can imagine. Interestingly, all this without the diva trying her hand at active mainstream roles. In fact, she rarely appeared in a movie beyond songs or some cameos. But that never stopped her from giving her contemporaries, a run for their money.

Even though Malaika danced atop a moving train in “Chaiyya Chaiyya”, yet, one would not think of bracketing her as an “item girl”. Each song that she’s danced to has either taken the screenplay of the film forward, or left an indelible mark on the project as a whole. No wonder, her scintillating chemistry with Shah Rukh Khan on the train became the high-point of this upbeat blockbuster song.

“Chaiyya Chaiyya” also happened to be Malaika’s entry into Bollywood. Her oomph to her gypsy look, the minutest detail was in complete sync. So was “Ekwari Tak Le” in Bichhoo, her second movie song with Bobby Deol. Can we forget her pink crop top and the purple lipstick? Or for that matter, her black leather Catwoman LBD. What she flaunted in 2000 hasn’t gone out of style even after two decades.

Malaika’s first music video came a little before this — “Gur Nalon Ishq Mitha” which still remains one of her biggest hits. Her exciting pairing with another heartthrob Jas Arora was mesmerising. Sung by Bally Sagoo featuring Malkit Singh, it’s still a part of our 90s nostalgia.

In the midst of this we also got “Pyaar Ke Geet” by Shubha Mudgal, a complete departure for Malaika from her image of a style diva. She struck similar chemistry with then-boyfriend Arbaaz Khan. There was “Rangilo Maro Dholna” too from the same album that had enough emotions and acting on Malaika’s part. The song is still played at Dandiya Nights and dance shows.

And as Malaika was testing her acting prowess with every new music video, came “Kitni Haseen Zindagi” opposite Lucky Ali. She played a superstar lost in memories of her good times with her friend. A short little love story, this one had no dance but a lot of expressive lyrics, along with visuals of the earliest laptop, Rediffmail and times when selfies could be taken even with a hefty video camera.

2000s saw the reign of Malaika as the most sought-after face for dance numbers that were specially created to incorporate her. Her small part as Lisa in Kaante (2002) gave way to a fan-favorite track “Maahi Ve”. And probably the best thing to remember about an otherwise heavily panned film Kaal, is her doing “Iss Kaal Kaal Mein” with Shah Rukh Khan. She even made both Nana Patekar and Anil Kapoor dance to her tunes in “Hoth Rasiley” in Welcome (2007).

2010 declared her the ‘Munni’ of Bollywood, when she gave the industry, one of its most popular songs in decades. Salman Khan’s Dabangg got a breather in “Munni Badnaam Hui”, which was also perfectly placed in the plot. Though she played a small part in Housefull in the same year, she reappeared in “Anarkali Disco Chali” in its 2012 sequel.

It’s been a while we saw Malaika Arora getting back to a full fledged dance number. She’s been more busy using her skills to judge dance reality shows. But never say never, as her fans continue to wait for her next song.

Happy birthday, Malaika Arora!

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