The song is sung by two women to each other, asking a question about what is beneath your/my blouse. It is from the movie Khalnayak and is titled “Choli ke peeche kya hai”—what is beneath your blouse? The dance in this song was choreographed by Saroj Khan, and was attacked for its vulgarity both in court and in the media. What was however not overtly said ever, was that the song has two women singing to each other sexually, which allows for queer readings. The other version of the same song in the movie culminates in a violent assault on the woman, but this version did not get condemned.
Shohini Ghosh in her article points out that two women playing courtesans (Madhuri Dixit and Neena Gupta) sing suggestively to each other and about the female body, using motifs of covering and uncovering. A segment of the song includes the lyrics:
What should the boy be like / What should the girl be like?
The answering refrain is:
The boy should be like you / The girl should be like me
The song and dance sequence, which is one of the key components of Bollywood cinema, takes on a particular significance in the context of queer spectatorship. The fact that the most popular Hindi films may feature an average of six song and dance sequences suggests that these scenes may need to be taken just as seriously as (if not more so) the film’s main plot or narrative. The censorship code in popular Indian cinema, a legacy of British colonialism that was formally introduced in the 1950s with the creation of CBFC, prohibited “‘excessively passionate love scenes,’ ‘indelicate sexual situations,’ and ‘scenes suggestive of immorality.” Interestingly however the song and dance sequence is not subject to the same forms of state control as is the rest of the film, as Monika Mehta makes clear in discussion of the censorship debates surrounding the hit song “Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai” from the film Khalnayak. Mehta notes that even while state censors were busy debating the “vulgarity” of the song, it was circulating unimpeded through new technologies that were impervious to state scrutiny. The song was in fact released on audio cassette while the film was still in production, and went on to be shown as a music video on unregulated cable channels—the product of India’s liberalization and the advent of satellite television in the early 1990s.
…Charges of vulgarity, obscenity, and immodesty that are leveled against song and dance sequences, as Mehta points out, invariably involve representations of the female body and female sexuality. Certainly song and dance sequences are the primary arena in which the female body and female sexuality are on display in a way that may be disallowed in the other components that make up the film text. Shohini Ghosh argues in her discussion of Madhuri Dixit, the leading Bollywood actress of Khalnayak, “As a space of resistance, song sequences allow female protagonists to masquerade as someone else. Here, heroines can transcend the narrative confines of the script and conventional expectations by indulging in excess, badness, abandon, and revelry.” I would add that these sequences act as a place of fantasy and excess, not only for the female film star but also for the viewer, that cannot be contained or accounted for in the rest of the narrative. Given that song/dance sequences “allow things to be said which cannot be said elsewhere,” it is not surpising that it is often in these moments of fantasy that queer, non-heteronormative desire emerges.