Turns out people are all about wanting to ban nighties nowadays – which is confusing kyunki nighties nowadays are like the keds or perhaps the Hawaii chappals (no dear, I did not mean to write flip-flops) of clothes. Ekdum comfortable, quick and no need to tear anything off and all if you are called to solve a crime. You can just fly into the sky, trailing your night-gown frill maybe. It is time we had a Nightie Avenger comic, in which nightie-banners are given their just desserts. The nightie has transcended all barriers to become, in filmmaking terms, a day-for-night garment.
Isn’t that amazing – the barriers between day and night, inside and outside, sleeping and waking, working and relaxing, sexy and practical have all been muddled just like that, with women deciding to buy baingan or gobhi or kumbalakayi in night-dress.
Women wearing nighties in public happened symbolically at first – by the fact that they wore them in movies, not for the purpose of sleeping, but singing, dancing, and contemplating all the delicious possibilities of ishq. This is a tribute to those first public nighties, women actors wore while working, to manifest our private desires in the dark public space of the cinema hall. These were nothing like the very practical and non-sexual garment that the Indian nightie has become. People who are getting ideas seeing those are surely confusing them with something else.
Perhaps they think it is the Obhishopto Nighty, as in the song below. To them we say, enjoy the rambunctious song, eject the drama, Nightie and Stree are different from each other, ok? Maybe.
1.Sadher Lighty ( Obhishopto Nighty- 2014)
In the song one older man says to another that when he went to England, the Queen was wearing a white nightie. How could she be wearing a nightie in the day, asks his friend. “Because when it’s day there it’s night here,” is the answer. In other words, everything’s relative, let us relax.
2. Yeh Sama, Sama Hai Yeh Pyaar Ka (Jab Jab Phool Khile-1965)
Nighties appeared onscreen in slinky avatars. My favourite nightie-songs are the ones where women are fantasising by themselves, feeling satiny and feline and flirty and in the mood for (self) love. It seems pretty clear that women are wearing nighties for themselves and hello, they still continue to do so, just differently. Surely the bestest example of this, in this night-time-terrace-garden-cum-desert-tent, is Nanda’s white satin nightie.
3. Bhai Battoor (Padosan-1968)
The nightie was almost a set-piece in middle-class romantic movies of the 1960s. The women in these were often upper class, educated, angrezi type modern misses and their nighties, an example of their cosmopolitanism both inside and outside the home. Saira Bano played many of these characters, and was often to be found in the negligee and peignoir combination, as in this song – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5i160jmz6JI – from Jhuk Gaya Aasman, and this most famous song from Padosan. She takes a while to get there though – there’s the entire night-time ritual of a bubble bath, 100 brushtrokes (of her hair of course), some peekaboo with a towel, admiring herself, thinking about the rising passions of her body, and finally the mixture of satin sheen and diaphanous gauze of a night-outfit to tie all these neatly up with luxury, decadence, money, sex.
4. Baahon Mein Chale Aa( Anamika-1973)
It’s not that the nightie got Indianised right away. It took its time. Jaya Bhaduri did her fair share of nightie songs. But in this one she is in an over-sized lungi-kurta – it was the spiritual ’70s na, all ye devotees of Wild Wild Country – the Indian version of the boyfriend shirt. Woman in night-clothes, even if (or especially if) they belonged to a man meant, woman who knew what she wanted, hum se sanam kya parda, ya? (I mean, especially if you are that cutie Sanjeev Kumar said my friend, who is looking over my shoulder as I type and watch, watch and type). I love this song though for its sweet sexiness, the longing in the voice never preventing the twinkle in the eye.
5. Kabhi Neem Neem (Yuva-2004)
So, lots of people sleep in saris, or did until recently. A soft, old cotton sari for the night. It’s my assumption that’s what Rani Mukherjee starts out this very hot and sweet and affectionate and carnal, kabhi narm-narm kabhi sakht-sakht song in. Well, you know, she changes a lot of saris in the song, and maybe one is a nightie-sari or maybe not. But I’m putting it in on a technicality because this song is sexy and that’s that.
6. Gham ka Fasna Ban Gaya Achcha ( Manchali- 1973)
Here’s that other ’70s chick – Leena Chandavarkar in what might be a nightie. The ambiguity is from the fact that my mother told me she has come to visit Sanjiv Kumar’s character, so did she decide to short-cut the process and just come in a nightie? If so, this song is the precursor of the nightie worn at large in the world, the flanneuse – (not flannel) – nightie so to speak. It also has a tiny dupatta, a vestigial modesty so to say, which contemporary nighties also have, so this song belongs here for fashion history reasons. I think it has plenty sexy-times in it though it’s not a favourite of mine – but after seeing the comment below that says: “176 dislikes krne walo ‘aao kabhi haveli PE,’” I have decided I like it well enough.
7. Return of the Lungi or Sarkai Lo Khatiya ( Raja Babu)
Maybe the most famous song of the 1990s, one of the many playfully raunchy double-meaning songs performed by Karishma Kapoor and Govinda. While the cotton nightie may today be practical for a variety of everyday reasons, that lungi so strategically folded over, and that slippery red kurta, definitely categorise it as a, you know, ease-of-doing business garment.
Tune in to the playlist of all of Paromita Vohra's Sexy Saturday Songs here.