Female Bonding

Men Are from Mars, Women Are From Venus, the bestselling book by John Gray, has had a big cultural impact on our society. The book, which celebrates a quarter century of success this year, essentially postulates about how men and women think and respond differently from each other and to given situations. Men have been seen to be like Mars, the planet named after the Roman god of war, and women are like the planet Venus, named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. The book basically tells us why the genders are blueprinted differently and once we begin to understand that, how we can maximise our interaction with each other.

There are other illuminating books to take us into a similar line of thinking. One of them is Why Women Don’t Listen, and Men Can’t Read Maps, by Allan Pease, Barbara Pease. This work, an enlightening read about the battle lines between the sexes, proceeds to offer help in overcoming the hurdles of communication between the two.

However, all is not going too well with such theories nowadays. There are many academic studies, such as a recent one featured in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which reject the Mars-Venus simplification.

Says Harry Reis, co-author of the above-mentioned study, ”The common belief that men are from Mars and women are from Venus is really wrong, we are all from planet Earth”. So, if a girl wants to discuss commitment with her boyfriend, but he’d rather be watching a cricket show—especially over beer with his buddies—it should not be seen as a gender thing. Of course there is a significant statistical connection between men and hockey, women and beauty parlours. But these are stereotypic acts, says Reis. When it comes to the vast spectrum of psychological traits, which include the fear of failure and rejection, empathy and mate selection, health and success, Reis claims both the genders are from the same planet. Social scientists are still debating the issue.

But what about bonding, of the same-sex kind? Do men bond more with men, or women more with women? What do we find there?

It appears that women and men bond differently. Studies indicate that females have stronger emotional attachments to each other, while men don’t believe they have to be emotionally available to each other. That is why anthropologists have observed that when communicating, women’s bodies face each other much more, suggesting a closer bonding, while men’s bodies are more side-by-side. While men forgive each other more easily, women don’t quickly do so. There’s much more in there by way of differences, but when it comes to the numbers, it is generally agreed that men bond with men more than women bond with women. Way more in fact.

This has of course been abundantly reflected over the decades in male-bonding themes in Hindi films, such as Dosti (1964), Sholay (1975), Dil Chahta Hai (2001), 3 Idiots (2009), and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011).

But when it comes to singing songs together, Hindi cinema has perhaps chosen to vote heavily in favour of female bonding. While exact figures are not available, a cursory glance through songs which have two or more men-only or women-only singers throws up an astounding imbalance in favour of women: for every one song that is all-male, there exist about three songs that are by women singing together!

For now, let’s take a look at a few female-only duets. Triads are conserved for a deeper look another day!

· Udan khatole pe ud jaoon (Shamshad, Zohrabai in Anmol Ghadi, 1946)
· Aye dil meri wafa mein (Meena Kapoor, Lata in Anokha Pyaar, 1948)
· Dar na muhabbat kar le (Shamshad, Lata in Andaz, 1949)
· Chup-chup khade ho zaroor koi baat hai (Lata, Premlata in Badi Behen, 1949)
· Ye raat phir na ayegi (Rajkumari, Zohrabai in Mahal, 1949)
· Gore gore, o baanke chhore (Lata, Amirbai in Samadhi, 1950)
· Ye ruki-ruki hawaaen (Lata, Asha in Daaman, 1951)
· Bachpan ke din bhula na dena (Shamshad, Lata in Deedar, 1951)
· Bol papihe bol re (Sandhya Mukherji, Lata in Tarana, 1951)
· Zindagi badli muhabbat ka maza aane laga (Lata, Rajkumari in Anhonee, 1952)
· Kar gaya re (Lata, Asha in Basant Bahaar, 1956)
· Aji chale aao (Lata, Asha in Halaku, 1956)
· Aji o gokul ke gwaale (Geeta, Lata in Rangeen Raaten, 1956)
· Ye chaman hamaara apna hai (Asha, Geeta in Ab Dilli Door Nahin, 1957)
· Sakhi ri sun bole papiha (Asha, Lata in Miss Mary, 1957)
· Bedardi preet naheen jaani (Asha, Usha in Qaidi, 1957)
· O chaand jahaan wo jaayen (Lata, Asha in Sharda, 1957)
· Ja ja re ja saajna (Lata, Asha in Adalat, 1958)
· Ta thaiya karte aana (Lata, Geeta in Panchayat, 1958)
· Jaane kaisa jaadu kiya re (Sudha, Asha in Parvarish, 1958)
· Bechain dil khoyi si nazar (Lata, Geeta in Yahudi, 1958)
· Phulwa band mehke (Suman, Geeta in Hum Bhi Insaan Hain, 1959)
· Hum tumhaare hain zara ghar se nikal kar dekho (Asha, Sudha in Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, 1959)
· Akhiyaan bhool gayi hain sona (Geeta, Lata in Goonj Utthi Shehnai, 1959)
· Kaune rang mungwa (Sudha, Suman in Heera Moti, 1959)
· Jaanu jaanu ri (Geeta, Asha in Insaan Jaag Uttha, 1959)
· Akeli mohe chhod na jaana (Kamal Barot, Lata in Madari, 1959)
· Tere man mein kaun (Lata, Meena Kapoor in Angulimal, 1960)
· Garjat barsat saawan aayo re (Suman, Kamal Barot in Barsaat Ki Raat, 1960)
· Sharma ke ye kyoon sab parda-nasheen (Shamshad, Asha in Chaudhvin Ka Chand, 1960)
· Na main dhan chaahoon (Geeta, Sudha in Kala Bazaar, 1960)
· Daghabaaz ho baanke piya (Lata, Usha in Burma Road, 1962)
· Mere mehboob mein kya naheen (Lata, Asha in Mere Mehboob, 1963)
· Hasta hua noorani chehra (Lata, Kamal Barot in Parasmani, 1963)
· Tumko piya dil diya kitne naaz se (Lata, Usha in Shikari, 1963)
· Humen dum daike (Mubarak, Asha in Ye Dil Kisko Doon, 1963)
· Jab jab tumhen bhulaaya (Asha, Lata in Jahan Ara, 1964)
· Chaah karni thi chaah kar baitthe (Asha, Mubarak in Punar Milan, 1964)
· Huzoor-e-waala (Asha, Minoo Purshottam in Ye Raat Phir Na Ayegi, 1966)
· Pad gaye jhoole saawan rut aayi re (Lata, Asha in Bahu Begum, 1967)
· Dum maaro dum (Usha Iyer, Asha in Hare Rama Hare Krishna, 1971)
· Chale aao saiyaan (Jagjit Kaur, Pamela Chopra in Bazaar, 1982)
· Baadal chaandi barsaaye (Devaki Pandit, Jyotsna Hardikar in Saaz, 1998)

In a proper film-wise search over 4000 songs from Hindi cinema over the decades, we found 32 songs that were all-male affairs, while there were 91 songs sung by a crew of two or more females. If art were mirroring life, the reverse should have been the case. The figures themselves are small of course, but statistically significant from the point of view of female versus male bonding.

It has also to be said that not all songs listed above are female-bonding songs. Some, like O chaand jahaan wo jaayen as also Bol papihe bol re, have two ladies singing for the same man; as such, any bonding is out of the question there!

But the really amazing song is Jaan-e-man ik nazar dekh le, sung by Lata and Asha for Mere Mehboob (1963). The scene is the engagement of Rajendra Kumar with Sadhana, while it is Ameeta who sings both Lata and Asha! If two singers playbacking for one actress is not mystifying enough, consider this: she’s calling Rajendra Kumar “jaan-e-man” all the time! Don’t also forget to consider this missile she sends to Sadhana in the song: “Jee mein aata hai yehi, chheen loon tera sanam”. Goodness gracious me.


Originally published: 13th March, 2017

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