Lajja (2001): item numbers & eye candy, or could I say aankhon ladoo?


I watched Lajja(2001) (translation: Shame) and got carried away with the screen capping knowing I must do a post.  Yet what to post when I see the wonderful bloggers have already said it so well?  You know I specialize in the more superficial enjoyment of all films, so I’ll share my likes here by showing some photos and focusing on the item numbers, but please go and see the great reviews and thoughtful insight on Lajjaat the post punk cinema clubUpperstall, Filmi Geek and at philip’sfil-ums.


Starring as pictured above Manisha Koirala (Vaidehi); Madhuri Dixit (Janki); Mahima Choudhary(Maithili); and Rekha(Ramdulaari).  All four of the woman stars have a form of Sita for their name.

Epithets: In common with other major figures of epic literature, Sita is known by many epithets. As the daughter of king Janaka, She is called Janaki; as the princess of Mithila, Mythili or Maithili; as the wife of Raama, She is called Ramaa. Her father Janaka had earned the sobriquet “Videha” due to his ability to transcend body consciousness; Sita is therefore also known as Vaidehi (Vaidehi Vaydehi, or Vaithegi) (Sanskrit: वैदेही)). (source) Thanks to Philip’sfil-ums, I know that Ramdulaari (Rekha’s part) tranlates to Ram’s darling.


lajja.menThis is a girl power film, and unfortunately there’s certainly large amount of misandry, (and misogeny, go figure) but worry not since there are some super male heros played by the always satisfying Anil Kapoorand Ajay Devgan to help tip the scales back in the favor of good men. Even super bad guy played by Jackie Shroff is redeemed by movie’s end. The film opens with this statement by the director:


The music numbers covered here are all written by Anu Malik. Choreographer Ganesh Acharyaputs together 3 wonderful dances which serve to hold the sometimes disjointed picture together. Ganesh Acharya really does some provocative choreography with Urmila Matondkarhere, clearly showing life in the fast lane at an American nightclub. I did wonder a bit about the reason for putting those masks on the background dancers, but why not?  Jazz hands! Can one really ever get enough of the jazz hand?  I think not, so I had to share not one, but two screen caps of the jazz hand:

lajja.urmilaJazzHands lajja.urmilaJazzHands.2


Aa Hi Jaiye with playback singer Anuradha Srirampicturized on Urmila  Matondkar:

lajja.prestigeOur story starts with Vaidehi (Manisha Koirala) who finds herself married to a womanizing millionaire crorepati and living in the wicked west, New York City that is. You can see in the item number above the loose moral environment Vaidehi’s husband subjects her to. It’s all about the sex, drinking and money for her evil husband played by Jackie Shroff, but Vaidehi herself must keep up the family name.  Vaidehi makes her plea for a moral lifestyle and he won’t stand for it and ships her back to Hindustan. Of course there’s retribution for the husband’s evil ways and after sending Vaidehi back to Bharat he gets in an auto accident, rendering him impotent. Ha! Well we see that even the very rich, amidst their leaded crystal laden mansions in the USA have problems!

lajja.cantfather lajja.cantfather.pregnant

But…lekin, there is a simple solution! Evil father ( Suresh Oberoi ) suggests:



Meanwhile back in the safe arms of India, Vaidehi meet a bandit with a heart of gold played by Anil Kapoor, who is called a biscuit wallah and scoundrel here:


In order to hide from her husband’s men hunting her down, Raju (Anil Kapoor)  and Veidehi crash a wedding and blend among the crowd.  It’s there they meet the bride to be Maithili (Mahima Choudhary)and meet her snobbish in laws. Look at Maithili’s sweet mother (Farida Jalal) be snubbed in her gift offering:


lajja.sari.benares lajja.sarirejection


The bride has an admirer who I thought tried to imitate yesteryear actor Johnny Walker. The second great item number is Saajan Ke Ghar Jaana with playback singers Alka Yagnikand Richa Sharma, picturized on the lovely Sonali Bendre:


lajja.sonali lajja.sonali.4


Eventually Vaidehi makes her way to another safe haven, where she meets Janki (Madhuri Dixit ) who is an actress. Her first exposure to Janki is her acting out a seen on stage from the 1960 epic Mughal-e-Azam .



How can you not adore Madhuri?  The third item number is Badi Mushkil with playback singer Alka Yagnik,picturized on Madhuriand Manisha:


That’s all the fun we get because Janki finds herself pregnant out of wedlock and her fiance is made to question her virtue by her Ravana-esque manager.  So when she’s doing her staged performance of Ramayana, she asks why should Sita  have to do the trial by fire to prove her virtue, why not Ram?


Backstage she continues to share what’s on her heart and mind:

lajja.Ramayana.aftermath lajja.Ramayana.aftermath.2


Now that’s a great question, but I guess she forgot she was in India. It’s more than just an elephant in the room, it’s the elephant in the country.  The aftermath of the big question about equality has predictable results in a man’s world:

lajja.slut lajja.slut.2


The crowd beats Janki and as a result she miscarries.  Infuriated, Vaidehi goes to confront the evil, gossiping, lecherous pervert manager of Janki and get a load of what she says:


Yeah!  She said it! Vaidehi escapes that mess and finds yet another safe haven with  Rekha‘s Ramdulaari. Do you see how in Rekha’s world they keep it real, cow dung patties drying on the wall.  Now that says “village!”


And while I speak of cow dung patties, here’s a photo I took of some I saw on my trip to India:

India.08.09 1174

Back to Rekha and Manisha and their suffering:

lajja.35appreciate lajja.36appreciate


Another hero that comes to Vaidehi’s rescue is the super human Bulwa (Ajay Devgan) who handles dacoits on a train as well as the evil town leader Gajendra( Danny Denzongpa ). Now Bulwa has held a grudge ever since the Gajendra boiled Bulwa’s moms hands in oil.   This resulted in Bulwa amputating one of Gajendra’s arms back in the day, which of in turn caused Gajendra to hold a grudge against Bulwa.  Years pass and Bulwa returns for another confrontation and Gajendra whips off his pashmina to reveal that arm he’s been missing for years:



Amputations are one of those things I look for in a Bollywood film.  Nothing says revenge like an amputation. Bulwa even commits a double arm amputation on another scoundrel.

lajja.40amputation lajja.40amputation2


Bulwa is once again to the rescue when Vaidehi’s evil  NRI husband catches up to her. The sword wielding hero is ready to chop off her husband’s head, but to Bulwa’s horror, she stops him:



Well Bulwa does have a valid point there Vaidehi, hai na?

Here’s one more screen cap to show what a bad-ass Bulwa is:

Since I’d like to end on a positive note, feast your eyes on the ever beautiful Madhuri:

If you’ve seen Lajja, tell me what you thought.

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27 thoughts on “Lajja (2001): item numbers & eye candy, or could I say aankhon ladoo?

  1. I have seen Lajja and couldnt believe that with a film maker like Santoshi, a stellar cast like that, and all the best intentions in the world, any film could come out as bad as that! In spite of lovely Madhuri (the only bright spot in this sorry mess), I wished somebody would give me back the 3 hrs I had spent watching it. Not a single human character – they were all such two-dimensional black and white characters devoid of any shades of grey. That is normally not a problem in a regular masala-flick but here it just makes it feel like a 1940s film made 6 decades too late!

    • bollyviewer-ji,
      Exactly! A wonderful cast and good intentions gone wrong. I admit I did really like it though, but only since it ended up being more of a masala-silly film. I gave up immediately at the start from taking it seriously when I saw how ridiculous Jackie Shroff’s character was. Certainly one dimensional characters, and really all caricatures of authentic people, but that’s the beauty of Bollywood at times. A movie trying to make such a grand point would certainly benefit from more realism. It was in the “so bad it’s good” realm for me. Again, great observations:feel “like a 1940s film made 6 decades too late!” :)

  2. This movie really tested my patience, the music is great as you’ve said but some parts were overstretched particularly the wedding bit with Anil Kapoor, that bit was a bit too long and some parts in there were a bit unnecerssary, this is one of those movies where i kept watching my time waiting for it to end

    • bollywooddeewana-ji,
      Yes, this movie seems to have that effect on most. Like bollyviewer says above, with a super star cast, it’s sort of hard to think that it could go wrong, yet it does despite its good intentions. And the wedding bit (sans the dancing and the Farida Jalal gift exchange sequence) was lame. It got into that “wacky” realm, which I don’t ever enjoy…like some Jerry Lewis film in a bad way (is there a good way? LOL). I keep in mind that such sequences are for the villagers. :) I once heard Ajay Devgan say that in an interview and was a teeny bit horrified at the elitism of that comment, then grew to love and accept it. Just think This section is for the villagers. I often use my fast forward feature of the remote liberally during these films and downing a glass of wine while viewing helps too. In a case of a film like this, perhaps 2 glasses. :) Maybe I should start a rating system: This film requires 2 shots of Johnnie Walker Black Label for most enjoyment. Thanks for your comments yaar.

  3. Lajja actually means “embarrassment”. Shame is “sharam”. These words are shared in many South Asian languages, including Hindi, Urdu, Bengali etc (pronunciation vary).

    Also, bezati is “humiliation”.

  4. I saw Lajja when it first came out without subs. I’ve been waiting for a dvd with English subs but forgot about it. Thanks for reminding me!

    I think Lajja is more famous for its songs than its storyline

    • Hey Nicki-ji girl!
      I didn’t know that, thanks for telling me. That makes sense, especially in the case of Madhuri & Manisha’s number, which I especially enjoyed. The plot to this just didn’t seem to ever gel, but I did enjoy it anyway. Maybe you’ll do a post after watching it again? Let me know if you do, I’d enjoy reading your take on it. :)

  5. Hello Sitaji!

    I watched Lajja only because of Manisha Koirala..I was obsessed with Koirala in those days! :D Disappointing movie though.

    I can only hope that my childhood crush makes a big comeback soon (hopefully in Mani Ratnam’s Ravana).

    PS. Thanks for the follow in my blog :)

  6. Bhargav Saikia-ji,
    Of course I enjoy following your blog. I too watch movies that I know may not be that great simply because they have a star I like. For instance last night I watch Ram Jaane (1995) for SRK and Juhi Chawla, of course not so great, but I still liked it enough to finish. Yes, Lajja seems to have the same impact on us all:disappointing. So puzzling with a cast so great. I love Manish Koirala too, especially in Bombay and even in the silly kids’ movie Raja Ko Rani Se Pyar Ho Gaya (2000). I’m sure the Mani Ratnam film will be great.

  7. Nice review….i havent seen this movie…but after your review and the eye-candy photos, i would like to watch it:)

    • iselldreams-ji,
      Thanks for checking in and for the kind words. Stop back and let me know what you think of the filum after you see it yaar.

  8. Lajja was a bit of a mess – but I LOVED Madhuri’s performance and her friendship with Manisha’s character… I also adored the song with her and Manisha dancing with such joyful abandon… beautiful. Rekha also surprised me with her earthy performance. That’s what I remember fondly about this film.

    The film’s message got rather badly mangled by the filmmakers though, which is such a shame! At the end of the day, you’re left wondering whether this is really supposed to be a pro-women set of stories (which, to be fair, I think was the honourable intention) or just a mishmash of silly filmi stereotypes, female-bashing and general nonsense.

    PS I LOVE that quote from Ajay: ‘this section is for the villagers’. Terrible, but funny.

    • Daddy’s Girl-ji,
      Yes it was a mess, but somehow a likable mess. Ditto on Madhuri’s performance and Rekha’s performance was indeed earthy, good description. Yes general nonsense. Yes that Ajay quote has been very useful for my Hindi film viewing. Thanks for your visit mitr!

  9. heehee. Hooray for six versions of Aamir Khan serenading us! (Sorry about the comment here, there isn’t a spot to comment on the header…)

  10. Sita-ji, I saw Lajja some time ago, and it was Jackie Shroff’s character that derailed the whole movie for me. And speaking of whom, is that really supposed to be a happy ending?!?

    Your review, though, has made me want to go back and re-watch the parts with Madhuri–in this as in so many of her films she’s the best thing about it. Thanks for reminding me!

    • Pessimisissimo-ji,
      Sukriya for the visit. It’s such a mysterious film in that it has all the parts that should make it fantastic, but it just doesn’t seem to work for some reason, yet I’d totally re watch it too. LOL on the happy ending. :)

  11. I don’t want to add more abt the movie itself because I agree with what everyone above has said. Instead, I’d like to make an observation. My cousin who is a Bharatnatyam dancer once told me that a true dancer immerses herself in the dance instead of remaining separate. I know this sounds flaky but you only have to see the Badi Mushkil song to see how true it is.

    Manisha (a non dancer if there was one) does exactly the same steps as Madhuri in one part and does not fumble or fail. She is technically correct but she looks like a puppet while she executes those steps. Madhuri dances with her face, expressions, mannerisms, the way she throws her hair, her smile, her whole being. She abandons herself while Manisha is ‘separate’ from the dance. I know it’s tangential but I love this song for this reason :-D

    • Pitu-ji,
      How true. Perfect observation. Madhuri becomes the dance, which is precisely why she is such a joy to watch and head and shoulders above many.

  12. I love Madhuri Dixit! But I cannot find this movie streamed online with English subtitles…does anyone have any info on where I may find it with English subs? Thanks so much.

    • Jyllfluenza-ji,
      Glad you like this movie. So dramatic, hai na? I can only find it at google videos, but no subtitles HERE.
      I hope someone can find it and post. If I do, I will do so. Thanks for stopping by. :)

  13. well i must be the only one here to say I loved the film. I will admit that Jackie Shroff was an annoying git in it, i found Ajay to be caricatureish, but the women captivated me. Madhuri was excellent, not just for her dancing but her acting elevated the film. Rekha was funny, with the terrible attempts at English. the reallly bad thing about this film was the dude gajendra with the eye make up. Dude needs to ease up on the eyeliner seriously. what a ham. the director, man, was actually trying to promote feminist rights, he had read about a woman being gang raped no one helping her, and wanted to make a film about it, he felt however that a whole film about a gang rape would be too much so opted for the portmanteau angle. and yeah i liked the wedding, thats where i fell in love with Anil “I’m so hairy you could shave me and make a carpet”Kapoor. seriously, he is awesome to me. so yeah i must have really wack taste, but i loved it. so there.

    • prima-ji,
      I loved it in its own way (see my first comment to bollyviewer above) thus the post. :) I love Anil too, very appealing in his unique way. He’s great in everything! Speaking of rape, have you seen him in Benaam Badshah (1991)? Now that’s one crazy film! It takes the rape theme, so often found in Bollywood films, to another level. It was hard to get my mind around the angle of the film, but I loved how CRAZY it was.

  14. I thinks this was one of the women based flick which was definitely made on a large scale, fast paced narration and all sorts of commercial and debatable elements.
    It had excellent dance tracks and gory rape scenes too.
    All the actresses did their best, but I feel there were certian scenes where everything went over the top, like the dialogue delivery of these actresses. Take for instance, Rekha pleading Danny to leave Manisha or Jaya Bhattacharya { wife in veil} confronting Tinu Anand .
    But I guess…the scenes were on their own- overtly dramatic, to create strong effect, like the stampede done on Madhuri or rape scene of Rekha.
    I guess to create deep shock and make the def people wake up to such issues { as shown in the film’s opening statement} it was deliberately dramatized this way.
    Talking about other larger than life things, we have “Ajay Devgan”…I mean it’s almost surreal to find such a “daku” with a golden heart. But yes, we can find bastards like “Gulshan Grover” in most of the villages…and I forgot.. Ajay sliced his both arms?…Wow! that’s a revelation… truly worth it. This surely is Gulshan’s masterpiece rapist role.
    Then at last like a true commercial bollywood flick, this also ends with everything gud , Manisha gets a reformed husband, Madhuri marries a “employed” ex-theif et al.
    But with all such things , why did the movie do average business?…I guess that was a very early time for bollywood to accept women oriented subjects…unlike today…I wish “Madhuri” all the very best for her next women based flick “Gulab Gang”…the poster of this movie is also very provocative like the theme of “Lajja” …Check out here-

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