All that changed with the entry of Zeenat Aman and Praveen Babi-free-spirited woman who were on the right side of morality but saw no contradiction in smoking, drinking and flaunting their curvaceous body!
By the 80s and early 90s, it became fine for women to flaunt their bodies full on, express sexual desire for their lovers and celebrate their sexuality. What started with Sridevi became a rage with Madhuri Dixit. Somewhere around this time, the pre-eminence of a song to sell a film started catching on...
Madhuri's songs like "Dhak Dhak Karne Laga" and "Choli Ke Peeche" were such rages that people went to watch these songs rather than the films. These were the early days of a trend called item number...
This year has already seen a smashing "Munni Badman..." from Dabangg and we wait with bated breath for "Sheila Ki Jawani"...
Malaika Arora's Chaiyya Chaiyya (Dil Se - 1998)
When Mani Ratnam's Dil Se released, the movie though very lovingly made by Mani Ratnam on the issue of terrorism, didn't make a mark at the box office. It flopped badly... The only thing people seem to remember was song picturised on hot and sizzling Malaika Arora Khan and Shah Rukh Khan.
Malaika Arora Khan was the item piece here...
Urmila's Chamma Chamma (China Gate - 1998)
Those were the glorious days of the Rangeela girl... she had hit the marquee with a super duper hit, Rangeela. The movie in question was China Gate, some kind of curry Western that died even before it hit the screens. What remained was a happening number by Urmila Matondkar...
Shilpa Shetty's Main Aayi Hoon UP Bihar Lootne (Shool - 1999)
Shool was one of the Ram Gopal Varma protégé's film. Directed by E Niwas, the film was based on hard-hitting stories of corruption- and crime-ridden Bihar. The film went on to be a hit but helping it big time was a happening number by Shilpa Shetty.
Ash's Ishq Kamina (Shakti - 2002)
With mainstream actress doing an item number in a movie they didn't star in got going, it was only a matter of time, when other mainstream actresses would join in. The trend would soon re-christian itself and get popularity as "special appearances".
Aishwarya was among the first to set this trend on fire with a sizzling hot number "Ishq Kamina" with Shah Rukh Khan in a film called Shakti.
Red hot item it was...
Isha Koppikar's Khallas (Company - 2002)
In 2002, Ram Gopal Varma directed yet another thriller, Company. Again a certified hit with Ramu getting it spot-on with an underworld theme. The film gave a fillip to Vivek Oberoi's career but is better remembered for Isha Kopikkar's Khallas number sung with great gusto by the formidable Asha Bhosle.
Malaika Arora-Khan's Mahi Ve (Kaante - 2002)
Malaika Arora Khan in her many film glossy interviews has been quite open about the fact that she doesn't fit into the Hindi film heroine role and would rather stick to her career as a model. However, she also mentioned that she wasn't averse to doing such item numbers in films because she simply loved dancing.
So, the audience again saw her in a magnetic number...Mahi Ve in Kaante.
Mumaith Khan's Dekh Le (Munna Bhai MBBS - 2003)
We all will agree that the Munna Bhai series was a clincher. It was a winner all the way... but the makers of the film, it seems, weren't sure that the film will go on to become a cult classic though they certainly thought it was a good idea. So they too had an item number included though, one must say, it blended rather well with the overall tone of the film. The act was done by a small time actress, Mumaith Khan.
Yana Gupta's Babuji Zara Dheere Chalo (Dum - 2003)
Dum came a year after Company and was expected to keep Vivek Oberoi's career afloat. But the film flopped big time. What stayed back where memories of a song called Babuji...zaraa dheere chalo!
Aishwarya Rai's Kajra (Bunty aur Babli - 2005)
Ash girl did it again-this time with her husband-to-be and her father-to-law to be. The number was not just hot, it was comic too. And great fun to watch! It added a new dimension to item numbers.
Kareena Kapoor's It's Rocking (Kya Love Story Hai - 2007)
Sometime in 2007 Kareena Kapoor showed up in a fun song "It's Rocking". So cool was the song that people now barely recall the film starring her then boyfriend Shahid Kapoor and Ayesha Takia. This song also showcased some glimpses of the future Kareena, the size zero Kareena of Tashan!
Shilpa Shetty's Shut-up and Bounce Baby (Dostana)
Oops! The red hot Shilpa was at it again. This time in Karan Johar's supposed gay flick, Dostana. All the nation did was "shut-up-and-bounced"...
Kareena's Marjaani (Billu Barber - 2009)
By now, the special appearance act was complete and heroines now vied for the instant fame it assured and visibility it guaranteed.
Kareena shared the screen with king khan in Marjaani song from Billu Barber...
Deepika Padukone's Love Mera Hit Hit (Billu Barber - 2009)
Up and coming actress Deepika Padukone also featured in a special appearance in Billu Barber. The song did sit pretty on chart and was a smash hit. Naturally, it worked for Deepika though the film was a dud in the box office.