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Motherland
The Item Issue
August 07, 2014
Share a journey with us on the history and future of the infamous Item number in Indian cinema. Ranging from courtesans, to the tawa'if culture of the 18th and 19th centuries to the cabaret to nautch girls, transgendered minorities, item girls to the path breaking Chaiyya Chaiyya to the classic wet sari sequence captured by Bharat Sikka's lens.

Item numbers refer to sexy song and dance routines that are usually shoehorned into films to which they have little to no relevance, but they're also wildly popular, and the mainstay of the Bollywood soundtrack business. These song and dance sequences form one of Bollywood's most defining characteristics, and they've morphed from high-camp numbers in the 70s into a high-gloss present-day version, unapologetically sexy and all choreography and sinew.
Share a journey with us on the history and future of the infamous Item number in Indian cinema. Ranging from courtesans, to the tawa'if culture of the 18th and 19th centuries to the cabaret to nautch girls, transgendered minorities, item girls to the path breaking Chaiyya Chaiyya to the classic wet sari ...
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