Some years back, the vibrant city of Amsterdam with winding canals and narrow houses and steep staircases was the place I used to call home. A singular aspect of life in Amsterdam is cycling. The entire city has a cycling path of nearly 400 kms. It is the preferred mode of travel for most residents. You aren’t an Amsterdammer if you do not cycle or have tales about stolen, lost bicycles. My brother, who lives in Amsterdam, had come visiting a couple of weeks back. As we conversed, the topic veered towards cycles. He had lost his bike the day before he came to India and he was cribbing about having to go back and get another one – making this his third in the last year. I was reminded then of my own dear bicycle, much loved once, and now lying abandoned and neglected in a store room. The topic of this post came to my mind as I was cleaning and checking it.
Today cars may have flooded the streets of our country but at one point in time, in the forties and fifties, cycle was the most affordable and common mode of transportation for most Indians. Hence not that much of a surprise that cycles featured prominently in the movies till about the 70s or 80s.
There are so many songs picturised with the hero / heroine/ other actors on a bicycle. This is a compilation of 10 of my favourite cycle songs – with one restriction. The person who lip synchs the song has to be riding the bicycle for either the whole song or at least 80% of the time in the song. This automatically rules out Pukarta chala hoon main – one of my all-time favourites that has Asha Parekh perched prettily on a cycle. I have also not included the lovely Mana Janab ne pukara nahin, as Dev Anand prances, for most of the song, with a cycle and not on it.
So here goes:
1) Main Chali main chali dekho pyar ki gali (Padosan, 1968, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, R.D. Burman): This for me is the bicycle song. The heroine out on a picnic with her saheliyon ki toli, eager to fall in love is a standard trope in Hindi cinema and the cycle does play an important role. For one, thats how they get to the picnic spot and invariably the heroine bumps into (sometimes literally too) the hero and the love story is kicked off.
Here, her sahelis are advising her caution and warning her of the pitfalls of love. Yes towards the end, they also start extolling the virtues of love! This is a lovely, chirpy, lilting song picturised on Saira Banu and her sahelis, out for a picnic on the clean, broad streets of picturesque Mysore. A wonderful song from a memorable movie.
2) Ban ke panchchi gaye pyar ka tarana (Anari, 1959, Lata Mangeshkar, Shankar-Jaikishen): Same situation, but from a film from the fifties. Again, scenic locales, melodious music and pretty girls! Nutan, Shubha Khote and their friends are all out, happy and chirpy, and waiting to fall in love! Oh yes, the hero is also seen on a cycle. The hero and heroine do meet – after a collision. No, its not love at first sight, thankfully!
3) Akela hoon main is duniya main (Baat ek raat ki, 1962, Mohd Rafi, S.D.Burman): Here we have the hero singing about his woes – he is all alone and lonely with not a companion but his shadow. This melodious number is sung by Rafi and is picturised on Dev Anand, who spends a little more than half of this song on a cycle and then moves on to a boat.
4) Dil mera ek aas ka panchchi (Aas ka panchchi, 1961, Subir Sen, Shankar-Jaikishen): This is a hopeful, happy song brimming with idealism and optimism. It is filmed on Rajendra Kumar, as an NCC cadet along with his fellow cadets. All of them are on cycles through out the song. I had read somewhere that Subir Sen had packed his bags and gone back to Calcutta. But this song was released and became a big hit and he had to come back.
5) Saanwle Salone aaye din bahaar ke (Ek hi raasta, 1956, Lata Mangeshkar and Hemant Kumar, Hemant Kumar): This is a song I heard only recently, when Madhu did a post on her favourite spring songs. But what a sweet number it is. Again a picnic number. A family is off for a picnic on their cycles through an idyllic countryside. Sunil Dutt looks good and so does Meena Kumari (0ne of her happier songs).
6) Michael hai to cycle hai (Bewaqoof, 1960, Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle, S.D.Burman): A goofy number picturised on Kishore Kumar and Mala Sinha about a Michael and his cycle. A typical Kishore-Asha duet, chirpy, full of repartee, and very well sung.
7) Hey maine kasam li (Tere Mere Sapne, 1971, Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar, S.D.Burman): Dev Anand was past his prime when he did Tere mere Sapne, but the film had memorable music and a lovely Mumtaz in it. This sweet duet is picturised on both of them on a cycle, singing about their immortal love as they pass through yellow mustard fields.
8) Aanchal ko udne do (Picnic, 1966, Asha Bhosle, S. Mohinder): A peppy number picturised on a pretty young girl with her toli of friends, celebrating their youth, the weather and life in general. The actress in question is Azra, the lady who featured in that classic Suku Suku song from Junglee (which reminds me that its been a real while since I watched that movie!)
9) Chal Mere dil lehra ke chal (Ishaara, 1964, Mukesh, Kalyanji Anandji): Joy Mukherjee is cycling through the streets of Delhi, singing this song, happily. I used to cycle a lot during my school days and no, by then unfortunately, Delhi roads were not as empty as they were here. I had watched this movie ages back and all I remember now is wanting to whack both Joy Mukherjee and Vyjayantimala on their heads. One of the few Mukesh songs I like, this song is composed by Kalyanji Anandji.
10) Guzar jaye din din (Annadata, 1972, Kishore Kumar, Salil Chowdhury): Ending this list with a beautiful Salilda composition. Sung by Kishore Kumar and picturised on Anil Dhawan, this intricate composition, while easy to listen to, is not at all easy to sing. (like most of Salilda’s compositions!) Apparently Kishore Kumar needed several takes to get this melodious number right and he even had nightmares about this.