Bollywood is on a perpetual devotional high. Most filmmakers make it a point to incorporate a festive track in praise of the Almighty.
That divine intervention can help boost a film’s success, is an added bonus. It also makes coming up with chartbusters and stunning visuals symbolic to the festival, relatively easy.
Ranveer Singh in the Gajanana track in Bajirao Mastani
While you’d be hardpressed to find a festival untouched by Hindi films, whether it’s Diwali, Navratri or Holi, Ganeshotsav is Mumbai’s, as well as Bollywood’s, favourite festival celebrated with great fanfare.
Not without Bappa
Choreographer-turned-director Remo D’Souza cannot visualise a film without a Ganesha track. Ganesh Acharya, who has directed several festive songs, feels blessed when asked to choreograph a track of this kind.
Sonakshi Sinha in the Go Go Govinda track in OMG – Oh My God! (2012)
Earlier this week, Sanjay Leela Bhansali launched the first song of his upcoming Ranveer Singh-Deepika Padukone-Priyanka Chopra-starrer, Bajirao Mastani, to coincide with the onset of Ganesh Chaturthi festivities.
Sukhvinder Singh, who has sung the Gajanana song, says, “It has a special spiritual connection for me. I am a devotee of Bholenath baba. Every Monday, I bathe the Shiv statue I have at home in milk. Ganpatiji is his son. So, the chance to sing Gajanana is Bholenath’s blessings to me.”
He adds, “I completed the recording too soon for my comfort. It happened quickly and I wanted to sing it again. Everybody was surprised because the number had turned out perfect o. I rendered it again and the last part has been retained for the film. Being appreciated from Sanjay Leela Bhansali was my prize.”
Singh says the track’s energy set the mood at the recording, which enabled him to wrap it up in one go.
The extra mile
Remo D’Souza made his unit skip non-vegetarian food on set while shooting for the Hey Ganaraya track for ABCD 2, which released in June this year. He also insisted that they remove their footwear while entering the studio. Being an ardent devotee of Bappa, D’Souza feels this is his way of paying obeisance to the Lord.
The Hey Ganaraya track in ABCD 2
The story goes that when they were shooting for the track, some of the steps were not going as he had visualised. The dancers kept faltering. He felt something was amiss.
Then, to get the right feel, he made everyone on set turn vegetarian for the entire duration of the shoot.
“My films are not complete without Bappa. I am an ardent devotee. I have been bringing Ganpati home for several years. That’s the reason why all my films have a special song sequence on Ganpati,” he says.
A memorable track
The numbers find themselves playing repeatedly at the city’s pandals. In fact, filmmakers make it a point to include peppy numbers, so they can be played during festive occasions. More than the film, it is the track that they remember.
The Sadda Dil Vi Tu (Ga Ga Ga Ganpati) track in ABCD (2013)
In his earlier flick, ABCD (2013), too, D’Souza had a special song in which his actors/dancers wore a Lord Ganesha mask while performing the number, Sadda Dil Vi Tu, choreographed by veteran Ganesh Acharya.
Says Acharya, “I have choreographed several festive songs. Ganesh Chaturthi is a celebration of families coming together and praying to the Almighty. When I choreograph such numbers, the steps are simple — something anyone can dance to.”
Music composer Abhishek Ray admits that his approach to a festive track is different from other tracks. The composer of the recent release, Welcome Back’s party track, says, “A festive song is the union of the human spirit with the Almighty. There is the underlying element of divinity — of being close to nature and God. But, the song needs to strike a connect with the
audience, to be played again and again.”
A Bappa track that is often played during Ganpati processions is Deva Shree Ganesha from the 2012 Hrithik Roshan-starrer Agneepath.
Hrithik Roshan in the Deva Shree Ganesha song from Agneepath (2012)
So is Mera Hi Jalwa from the Salman Khan-starrer Wanted (2009). The track had Sallu pull off some convoluted steps and the chartbuster still reverberates at Ganesh pandals. While Sonakshi Sinha’s Go Go Govinda track in OMG – Oh My God! (2012)
is popular during the dahi handi festival.
Choreographer Ahmed Khan says, “A festive song is symbolic of the oneness among people as everyone is out there celebrating.”
So, as the city gears up to bid adieu to their favourite god next week Bollywood makes sure there is no dearth of chartbusters to set the right mood.
In pictures: Ganpati songs in Bollywood