In 1997 when Cornershop released their ode to Bollywood music and its love of onscreen drama and dance, their song Brimful of Asha made it to the top 70 list in UK singles chart. The British Indie rock band was formed in 1991 and named itself Cornershop, referring to the stereotypical shops owned by Indian grocery stores.
A remix version of the song was also released by Fat boy Slim in 1997 taking the band to the masses. The lyrics captured the attention of the mostly anglo-centric Britpop era as the song emphasises the importance given to the interludes in Hindi films which can mostly make or break a production. It highlights an industry where songs sung by Asha Bhosle or Muhammad Rafi took the centre stage with a simplicity that steered the films.
The refrain, “Brimful of asha on the fourty–five” is a pun were ‘Asha’ refers to Bhosle, the singer, and also to ‘hope’ which remains integral in most films were the protagonists would lip-sync, and dance to depict the escapist emotion, to the tunes of the songs. ‘Forty -five’ are the number of rotations-per-minute during the CD generation.
The song made it to the top twenty modern rock tracks in the US, and the phrase, “everybody needs a bosom for a pillow, and mines on forty- five” leaves listeners waiting for more. The song mentions historic icons of filmi or pop music like solid state radio, The All India Radio, which was dominant before privatised radios and two in ones came to the fore.
The song is remarkable because it makes no fleeting statements about the industry or glorifies its classical culture, philosophy or tradition. Nor does it lament the poverty, pollution, or traffic. It simply romanticises the industry in a light hearted manner and its tune manages to linger even after the forty- five, which had seized the era.