India's biggest cultural contribution to the world has to be our item numbers. The origin of the item number is a mystery and perhaps some day a film historian might write a book on it, tracing it back to the earliest days of Indian cinema.
So, what is an item number? If you're unfamiliar with Indian pop culture, the term refers to a musical number in a film that usually has no connection to the plotline. The 'item girl' is a character who dances to the song, and never appears again in the film. She is a mysterious entity who might not have a name or a backstory. The audience does not get emotionally involved with her character. She serves a singular purpose: Instant gratification.
And yet, some of the most popular actresses in Bollywood have featured in item numbers. Ironically, many films sink without a trace at the box office, but their item numbers live on in posterity.
The first item number might have appeared on screen sometime in the 1950s. Let's take a look at the item numbers in Bollywood in 2012.
Text: Shivankar Jay