Weekend leisure: The Bollywood Bicycle Boogie

Take a break. It’s the weekend. Get your head out of that fat book and come with Navdeep Asija and me to the movies in India, the Bollywood Bicycle Boogie. The idea behind World Streets has from the beginning been to seek out and share universal lessons, from specific times and different places but which, with a bit of thought, can open up our eyes, ears and hearts to many things, including with a bit of luck to ourselves and our own limitations and quirks. For this Sunday’s musing Navdeep brought us a packet of Bollywood films for your weekend viewing pleasure. Let me turn over the word to Navdeep so that he can explain it for himself:

This is an unusual post of mine, but I hope you will appreciate it. As we all know, unholistic planning and policies have just not influenced and reduced the bicycle usage and cycling culture across the country but also forced Bollywood to chance their onscreen mode of transportation. Happy riders of yesteryear are the road crash victims of Today.

In Punjab today, while 12 of every hundred people own bicycle, only 2 people own a car. Saddest part in Punjab is, cycle ownership is there but not ridership. This is due the reasons well known to all of us. Facilitation and early licensing to one more car is going to put life of 12 cycle users and many pedestrian at risk — and government claim it as achievement.

Anyways, I made this collection of Bollywood songs, being picturised or written on theme “Cycle and Cycling”.

Today’s cyclists in India are the people with” no voice” and have almost no influence over the policy makers, road construction agencies and we need to be the voice of them. See, in this era of transition for both transport planner and Bollywood, if we can do something to revive the cycling culture on our roads and Bollywood, it will be really great gift to humanity I believe.

Enjoy listening and this collection might help to remind our policy makers to think about the need of those who matters most to our society;

Navdeep Asija, Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

Navdeep’s three favorites:

Dil Mera Ek Aas Ka Panchi – Aas Ka Panchi (1961) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jc17y86NbPY

Main Chali Main Chali – Saira Banu – Padosan (1968) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szFxM9KBNMA

Bhawre Ne Khilaya Phool- Prem Rog (1982) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W96gZjLLgig

(In case you are interested my very favorite is the wonderfully ruckus “Ek din Lahore ki Thandi Sadak Par” (Sagaayi) (1951) which you can handily call up at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-Bzb0POwdo.)

If you want more, ask Navdeep at navdeep.asija (at) gmail.com

About the author:

Navdeep Asija writes: “Pursuing my doctorate studies with Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. My area of specialization is Safe Road Infrastructure Design especially in context to developing nations. The biased attitude of policy makers towards motor transport has turned our roads social-economic activities centric roads into a death traps. Aim of life through constructive studies is to be the voice of those who matters most, the people who actually create our economy.”

Editor’s note: And before you shift into fifth and allow yourself to start to think anything along the lines of “Oh how quaint those Indians are”, keep in mind that given the special qualities of Bollywood this is far too cheap a shot. Beyond that the simple truth is that we all have our Bollywood – it’s just that in our case we are blind to it.


4 thoughts on “Weekend leisure: The Bollywood Bicycle Boogie

  1. Enjoy listening and this collection might help to remind our policy makers to think about the need of those who matters most to our society;

    Ek din Lahore ki Thandi Sadak Par -Sagaayi (1951)

    Aaya Re Aaya Re Baajiwala- Toofan Aur Diya (1956)

    Sanware Saloni Aaye Din Bahaar Ke – Ek Hi Raasta (1956)

    Mana Janab Ne Pukara Nahin- Paying Guest (1957)

    Suno Re Bhaiyya Ham Laaye Hain ek Khabar Mastaani- Paighaam-(1959)

    Babu Bol Kaisa Roka –Pyasa Panchi (1960)

    Neel Gagan Mein Geet Man Ke Gaye – Pyasa Panchi (1960)

    Mere Peeche Ek Diwana – Nazrana (1961)

    Dil Mera Ek Aas Ka Panchi – Aas Ka Panchi (1961)

    Akela Hoon Main- Baat Ek Raat Ki (1962)

    Pukarta Chala Hoo Mein- Mere Sanam (1965)

    Main Chali Main Chali – Saira Banu – Padosan (1968)

    Cycle Pe Haseenon Ki Toli- Amaanat – (1977)

    Ladki Cycle wali oye ladki- Pati Patni aur Woh (1978)

    Bhawre Ne Khilaya Phool- Prem Rog (1982)

    Chandi Ki Cycle Sone Ki Seat Aao Chalein Darling –Bhabhi (1991)

    Pehla Nasha- Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992)

    Iss Jahan Ki Nahi Hai Tumhari Aankhein – King Uncle (1993)

    Cycle by Gurdass Mann (Punjabi-2007)

    Cycle Rickshaw

    Chori Chori dil ka lagana buri baat hai – Bada Bhai (1957)

    Main Hoon Ghoda Ye hai Gaadi – Kunwara Baap (1974)


    Navdeep Asija


  2. Hi Navdeep and others,

    This is a great compilation for more than one reason. It is an interesting sociological material to understand cycling culture in India. Just adding some observations…

    – Majority of the movies cited here are from 50s and 60s where it was OK for the protagonist to be a regular cyclist. There is a clear distinction in later decades. The on-screen cycling appear more as a recreational and occasional activity but not really as a full-time, regular activity where one cycles to work. It is rare to see a mainstream Hindi language film (Bollywood!) hero or heroin to use a cycle on a daily basis. All though I am not a big fan of such movies but these movies are a big cultural import, so the concerns are even more grave. These films dubbed in to many Asian and African languages. These movies manufacture imaginations and imageries, associations and preferences.

    – Almost all movie celebrities are into advertising (and selling) some or the other kind of automobiles. The Banks advertise how buying a car is a logical transition from owning motorized 2 wheeler. Some of the eco-conscious celebrities are not yet vocal ambassadors of cycling. However, I have heard that some friends in this forum has made successful attempts to bring some celebrities to the cycling rallies.

    – Even the minority of (part-time or full-time) urban middle-class cyclists (who are the new cycling group) are not really interested in including the poor people in their campaigns. In Ahmedabad, there is a cycling group run by the doctors of the city who organise cycling events but it is a closed group! Generally, no one likes to include the poor in anything unless something is being claimed in their name.

    – It is very rare to find a cyclist amongst the policy makers, bureaucrats, consultants who are supposed to fund or plan cycling related infrastructure. Well, being a regular cyclist is not a qualification here but even an occasional cyclist would know ‘what not to do’!

    The cycling efforts in India are massively legging behind in terms of social marketing and advocacy. There are just a few national organizations who work around urban issues and they still don’t really recognize ‘transport’ as a social or political issue. Where as the international organizations loose their credibility at the local level when they are parachuting from a city to city (if not from cause to cause!) selling their ideas instead of investing in a long-term advocacy of policy change.

    Please excuse my cynicism (if you find any ;)) but I am still naively hopeful about future of cycling in India. People like Navdeep gives us a hope of changing things bottom-up and building grass-root level policy changes.



  3. Navdeep,

    Thoroughly enjoyed your post with a twist.

    Apart from songs there are many movies in the 60s or 70s where lead characters were portrayed to own a bicycle. Not anymore, sir. Is that why we call that a golden era?

    Talking of aspirational advertising, recently saw the attached at Delhi Metro Golf Course Station.

    I wonder why metro guys even allowed such an ad to be put in which clearly pitches their own services in bad light.



  4. Thanks Eric,

    Yeah, i am getting very nice comments from people. Further people are also suggesting me songs too, which i missed. One favorite is

    Pehli Nazar Mein – The Burning Train (1980)

    If you can also include in the list at appropriate place.




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