Ten of my favourite `Sung in transit’ songs

There was a snippet in the newspaper the other day about a Britisher who was fined by the police for laughing while driving. He’d been using a handsfree on his mobile to chat with a friend, but it wasn’t, apparently, the mobile that irked the police; it was the laughing.
That got me thinking: what would they make of characters in Hindi cinema who sing, play musical instruments, and sometimes even dance, while driving? That thought, of course, led to this post: ten of my favourite 50’s and 60’s songs, picturised on modes of transport. They’re all from films I’ve seen, and haven’t been included in any of my earlier posts (or, as one of my readers pointed out, not in one of my earlier Ten of my favourite… lists). Just to make it a little more interesting, no two songs are filmed on the same type of vehicle—and a song qualifies only if (a) the singer is on the vehicle (people sung to could be elsewhere) and (b) the singer stays on the vehicle through at least 80% of the song. And yes, a song figures on this list only if it’s good to look at and listen to.

A jeep and a car - from Dil Deke Dekho

Let’s get started. This isn’t, by the way, in any sequence.

1. Car: Babu samjho ishaare horn pukaare (Chalti ka Naam Gaadi, 1958): Car songs deserve a separate post (I promise I’ll do one sometime!) but this one, in my opinion, is the quintessential car song. Real-life and reel-life siblings Ashok Kumar, Kishore Kumar and Anoop Kumar romp about Bombay in their battered but dependable gaadi, named Champion (a 1928 Ford model `A’ roadster, just in case you like trivia). I love the madcap antics of the trio, and of course the superb duet by Kishore and Manna Dey. What tops it all is that this is actually a paean to the car!

Ashok Kumar, Kishore Kumar and Anoop Kumar in Chalti ka Naam Gaadi

2. Jeep: Mere sapnon ki rani kab aayegi tu (Aradhana, 1969): Jeeps don’t figure in as many songs as cars, though there are a handful. But this one, with a very handsome Rajesh Khanna serenading a lovely (though perhaps a little too giggly) Sharmila Tagore, wins. The Darjeeling Toy Train chugging along is a delight, and Sujit Kumar not just drives our hero but also accompanies him on the harmonica—at one point using both hands.

Rajesh Khanna and Sujit Kumar in Aradhana

3. Train: Hai apna dil toh awara na jaane kispe aayega (Solvaan Saal, 1958): I am a confirmed Dev Anand fan; I adore Waheeda Rehman; and I think Hemant’s voice was so awesome. This song brings all of them together in a Bombay `local’, with a host of other occupants—a foursome of indulgent, smiling Anglo-Indians; another of card players; the hero’s sidekick (playing a harmonica) and the slimy boyfriend who’s eloping with the heroine. A fabulous song, very well picturised.

Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman in Solvaan Saal

4. Bullock cart: Oh re taal mile nadi ke jal mein (Anokhi Raat, 1968): This is, frankly, the only bullock cart song I know of. And it’s lovely, a beautiful melody picturised on a slowly moving cart making its way along a river, with boatmen in the background bringing a boat in. Mukesh’s voice is haunting, filmed on Sanjeev Kumar as the simple villager who’s bringing his shy bride to her new home. I love the sweeping horns of the bullocks, and the smug look on Mukri’s face—almost as if he were the one who’d been married!

Sanjeev Kumar and Mukri in Anokhi Raat

5. Bicycle: Main chali main chali dekho pyaar ki gali (Padosan, 1968): I can think of a few bicycle songs, but this one, with Saira Banu and a bevy of very participative extras, gets my vote. It’s got a marvellously lilting tune (by R D Burman), and the girls, as the pedal along beautifully traffic-free roads past flowering trees, look as if they’re having loads of fun. And though the girls all have the same voices (Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle), I don’t mind: it’s a great song in an equally great, hilarious film.

Saira Banu in Padosan

6. Boat: Yeh chaand sa roshan chehra (Kashmir ki Kali, 1964): Shammi Kapoor must hold some record for having had most songs filmed while on some mode of transport—Kashmir ki Kali itself has a bunch of them. This one’s on a shikara on the Dal Lake, with a demure (and increasingly distressed) Sharmila Tagore on her flower-laden shikara, while the extras are all on their own shikaras. Eye candy all the way, and Shammi Kapoor proves you can dance on a narrow boat. You may fall into the water at the end of it all, but you can dance.

Sharmila Tagore and Shammi Kapoor in Kashmir ki Kali

7. Scooter: Hoga tumse kal bhi saamna (An Evening in Paris, 1967): Shammi Kapoor again. An Evening in Paris probably beats Kashmir ki Kali when it comes to songs filmed on the move—it has songs filmed in cable cars, Paris’s Bateau Mouche, a car, and even a helicopter. None of those, however, are sung completely in transit and on one mode of transport; this one is. Shammi Kapoor and Rajendranath, along with a bunch of equally daring extras, swing their scooters in a hair-raisingly reckless way as they careen through the countryside. Total lunacy, but delightful!

Shammi Kapoor, Rajendranath, et al in An Evening in Paris

8. Chariot: Mera salaam le jaa (Udan Khatola, 1955): Songs on horse-drawn vehicles (mainly tongas and Victorias) are a dime a dozen onscreen, and—like cars—merit a post all their own. So even though there are loads of tonga songs, I’m going to skip a tonga in favour of another horse-drawn vehicle: a chariot. This song has the `tonga beats’ popularised by O P Nayyar, but here used by Naushad. And there are three different modes of transport here: the heroine (Nimmi, looking gorgeous) is driving the chariot; her friends are on horseback; and the hero (Dilip Kumar, though he isn’t shown here) is in an aeroplane that looks like a paper cutout. Not a very convincing picturisation, but the song’s wonderful.

Nimmi in Udan Khatola

9. Truck: Subhaan Allah haseen chehra (Kashmir ki Kali, 1964): Shammi Kapoor again, and from Kashmir ki Kali too. This time, disguised as a pregnant Pathan woman (!), he woos Sharmila Tagore in the back of a truck, accompanied by a bunch of supportive girls. Pran, as the suspicious driver (and the heroine’s unwanted suitor) gets a verse devoted to him as he’s lifted off the ground and then unceremoniously dropped by the surprisingly muscular `woman’, whose `husband’, Anoop Kumar, assures Pran that she is, after all, a Pathan. A fun song, lilting and cheerful, and with a very pretty Sharmila Tagore.

Shammi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore in Kashmir ki Kali

10. Lorry: Hum hain raahi pyaar ke (Nau Do Gyarah, 1957): This film had one of the best scores ever, by S D Burman. The lorry Dev Anand drives through a large part of the film had an appropriate number plate (DLH 9211) and featured in two great songs (Kali ke roop mein was the other one). This song, a celebration of journeying, and of being one with all mankind, is a classic. Lovely whistling at the beginning; some great photography of Fatehpur Sikri and the Taj Mahal, along with some fine roadside views—and Dev Anand, minus the mannerisms. Perfect.

Dev Anand in Nau Do Gyarah

P.S. There will be a sequel to this post, sometime. I promise!

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47 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite `Sung in transit’ songs

  1. I love all the songs in your list especially the one that features the greatest car in Bollywood! I had never seen the picturisation of the Hoga tumse kal song – Shammi seems to be actually driving (or should it be riding?) the scooter (as opposed to having an animated screen-background) and though it looks like super fun I sincerely pity his pillion-rider! How on earth does she stay calm? In her place, I’d be screaming!!!

    Are there really no other bullock-cart songs? Thought Teesri Kasam had some and wasnt there one in Aah too? I seem to remember a TB-afflicted Raj Kapoor being carted along in a cart to the accompaniment of a sad song.

  2. bollyviewer, thanks for reminding me of those – I’d completely forgotten about them (though I have to regretfully admit that I haven’t seen Teesri Kasam, so it wouldn’t have counted anyway). But you’re right… Oh re taal mile is definitely the best of the lot!
    And I’m pretty sure that’s not a moving background in Hoga tumse kal bhi saamna: if I’d been Shammi Kapoor’s pillion rider I’d probably have had a heart attack and passed out long back!

  3. bawa: Yes, I’ve got it on my list of “have to sees” – I need to pluck up some courage, because I’m not a Raj Kapoor fan (on the other hand, I like Waheeda Rehman a lot)!

    sabrina: Thank you for reminding me of that one! Lovely song – though I guess I’d put it in the same category as Deewaane ka naam toh poochho (An Evening in Paris) – they’re moving all the time, but from one mode of transport to the other. My aim was to find songs which are almost completely on one vehicle (or whatever) – I think from my list the only one which has people getting off for a while is Babu samjho ishaare, where they leap off and run along beside the car for a while. But Guide had such awesome music…

  4. u will love raj kapoor in tessri kasam. i myself am not a fan of his but here he is really likeable.

    i see you have cheated in anokhi raat.

    was sad to see that my fav transit song “jiya o, jiya o jiya kuch bol do” from “Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai” missing. Do I remember it right or I just dremt it, that Dev jumps from the car on to the train at the end of the song?

    At the same time was overjoyed to see my fav funny song “Babu samjho ishare” on top of the list. I always feel I’m 8, when I watch that movie.

    Did it happen to you as well, that you were wishing for Raj Kapoor dead after the second reel itself?

    How about “Tera phicha na mein choodunga soniye” with hot jodi of Dharmendra and Hema on two helicopters.

    The title song and some others from the movie Around the world with Raj Kapoor (ugh) and Rajashree are sung on a cruiser.

  5. Glad you liked it, harvey!

    Jiya o jiya kuchh bol do was on my list, and replacing it with Babu samjho ishaare was a tough decision!

    Yes, I know there was at least one song from Around the World sung on a cruiser… I would’ve included it in installment #2 (hint: coming up some time!) if I hadn’t already got another delightful song lined up for `sung on a ship’! And the Dharmendra-Hema song would’ve probably figured too, if only that film (was it Jugnu, or Naya Zamaana? I don’t remember) was a little older: I stick to 50′s and 60′s, with only the very occasional film from, say, 1970.

    By the way, which film did you mean: “Did it happen to you as well, that you were wishing for Raj Kapoor dead after the second reel itself?” This happens to me with just about every Raj Kapoor film (barring, perhaps, Chori Chori)!! So, which one?

    And hey, how’d I cheat with Anokhi Raat? Just curious, because I couldn’t figure out…

  6. Raj kapoor film: Aah! I was Aahing all through the film! It was sheer pain.

    Dharmendra-Hema movie with the aeroplane-helicopter song is from Jugnu, if i remember right. In Naya Zamaana, they wouldn’t have had so much money.

    Well you said “They’re all from films I’ve seen, and haven’t been included in any of my earlier posts.” You did post in a review of Anokhi Raat and a good one at that!

    But I think you can forget Around the world, it has a song on the cruiser with Raj Kapoor mopping the deck and no real good songs.

  7. Oh, okay… yes, Aah was a painful film. It started off all right, but I’ve rarely seen a film deteriorate so fast.

    And I think I should have made it a little clearer: I meant a song not listed in one of my earlier `favourite lists’! (Which is why I didn’t put my all-time favourite jeep song Pukarta chala hoon main here: I’d already included it in my O P Nayyar list). Thanks for pointing that out – am off to edit that :-)

  8. Well, the fault lays also on my side, I should have been clever enough to understand that you mean the list and not the films.
    By the way, thanks to you, I have started liking lists again.
    I was of the opinion that one can’t really have lists, cause they are so partial, but now I just told myself to take it as a game! And it is fun!
    Thanks!

  9. Hehe… we’ll convert you yet. :-) I love lists, and I have plenty lined up! And really, stuff like this is equally a brain game – for a while I was stumped trying to think of really good songs that featured vehicles or modes of transport other than the more common cars, jeeps, trains and tongas. Got pretty difficult at one point, but I’m already thinking up a sequel!

  10. all the songs from baiju bawra are great. i listen to them quite often.

    dustedoff: same with me, ‘man tarpat hari darshan ko aaj’ is simply great. it moves me everytime. a really spiritual song!
    ‘main to jogan ban ke’ sung by ustad bade ghulam ali khan in mughal e azam has the same hypnotic power on me.

    I love ‘tu gange ki mauj main jamuna ka dhara’ a lot as well. The last part is sensational. I really feel the embarassment of the character! Anybody would, if you are being serenaded by your admirer/lover and hundreds of onlookers come and sing along! And moreover you are in a boat andnowhere to hide your face! ;-)

  11. bollywooddeewana: Oh, I do want to see this song :-( I never saw the film (and the only video around seems to be the one not available here!). Hopefully someday…

    sabrina: You’re welcome! And thanks for reminding me about it – it’s been years since I saw it.

    harvey: Yes, that would be dreadfully embarrassing, wouldn’t it? ;-) I can well understand why she hides her face in her hands! And I must listen to Main to jogan banke again – by the way, I also particularly love Mohe panghat pe Nandlal chhed gayo re. Sublime!

  12. u r right bollywood deewana, this song (chalte chale lehro ke saath) does mix nearly all possible basic modes of transport!

    dustedoff: I don’t know if I wanted to see it, though it has a good rhythm.
    if you like Anil Kapoor, gyrating his hips (in a oh such suggesting way) with his pencil thin legs in tight tight jeans, then this is your song to watch!

  13. harvey, thank you so much for that! I enjoyed it thoroughly, and you’re right – Balraj Sahni does look so handsome. And Shyama’s lovely, too. They later did a film called Mai Baap, in which Johnny Walker was the villain, but I do think both of them look much more delectable in this ;-).

    And thanks for warning me off that video: no thanks, Anil Kapoor in tight jeans with those moves, isn’t quite my cup of tea.

  14. was that shyama? she looked lovely. i didn’t recognise her.
    doesn’t shyama play his sis-in-law in chhoti bahen?

    *off to read ‘hum dono’*
    *rubbing hands*

  15. Thanks – All are great songs but I feel among these ten only
    Mere sapnon ki rani kab aayegi tu of Super Star Rajesh Khanna in Aradhana.

    Kishore Kumar :

    O, eh hey hey, ha ha
    Mere sapnon ki rani kab aayegi tu
    Aayi rut mastaani kab aayegi tu
    Beeti jaaye zindagaani kab aayegi tu
    Chali aa, tu chali aa
    Mere sapnon ki rani kab aayegi tu
    Aayi rut mastaani kab aayegi tu
    Beeti jaaye zindagaani kab aayegi tu
    Chali aa, haan tu chali aa
    (Pyaar ki galiyaan, baagon ki kaliyaan
    Sab rang raliyaan poochh rahi hain) – 2
    Geet panghat pe kis din gaayegi tu
    Mere sapnon ki rani kab aayegi tu
    Aayi rut mastaani kab aayegi tu
    Beeti jaaye zindagaani kab aayegi tu
    Chali aa, tu chali aa
    (Phool si khilke, paas aa dil ke
    Door se milke chain na aaye) – 2
    Aur kab tak mujhe tadpaayegi tu
    Mere sapnon ki rani kab aayegi tu
    Aayi rut mastaani kab aayegi tu
    Beeti jaaye zindagaani kab aayegi tu
    Chali aa, tu chali aa
    (Kya hai bharosa aashiq dil ka
    Aur kisi pe yeh aa jaaye) – 2
    Aa gaya to bahut pachtaayegi tu
    Mere sapnon ki rani kab aayegi tu
    Aayi rut mastaani kab aayegi tu
    Beeti jaaye zindagaani kab aayegi tu
    Chali aa, tu chali aa
    Mere sapnon ki rani kab aayegi tu
    Aayi rut mastaani kab aayegi tu
    Beeti jaaye zindagaani kab aayegi tu
    Chali aa, haan tu chali aa
    Chali aa, tu chali aa
    Chali aa, haan tu chali aa

    Super Star Rajesh Khanna evoked a type of hysteria in India that only Elvis and the Beatles did in the West. The receptivity to his persona was due to the actor’s exuberant presence on screen. The masses felt a type of “deliverance” to a higher and better level through his films. They were elevated and taken forward. They wanted this progress; to cast off the “static” patterns of the past. There was no mere identification with Super Star Rajesh Khanna. He broke all previous success barriers without a godfather or godmother to guide him or shower their favouritism to him. He did it alone and so was called “superstar” for the same reason. Super Star Rajesh Khanna in the eyes of the Indian cinema-goer was taking movies ahead in quantam leaps. Wherever he took them, they would follow. This was a celluolid utopia no one had experienced before or since. As an actor, he broke out of orbit to become a “superstar” and lead. Super Star Rajesh Khanna delivered the cinema from a usual place, and ended “where they lived well” to the other, “but we lived better”. Until another breaks his unforgettable groundbreaking precedent of euphoric conditions, he is still ’the pride of the nation” and the “National Super Star.”

  16. Great list!
    I would like to add these songs in motion:
    Police Van: ‘Zindagi hai kya’ from Satyakam (1969)
    Crane( its a vehicle): ‘Rafta Rafta Dekho’ from Kahani Kismat Ki (1973), not sure about 80% but its fun.
    Tonga: Mard Tangewala from Mard (1985), this one was easy
    And nothing beats
    wooden roller board : ‘Naam abdul hai mera’ from Shaan


    Hindi films can’t run out of transit song. think i will do a post on it.

  17. Thank you for the suggestion from Satyakam – I’d forgotten about that one, even though it meets my criteria (I’ve seen the film, and it’s from the 50′s or the 60′s)!

    Hindi cinema has no dearth of songs sung in transit – especially, at least in the good old days, tongas and cars. Loads of those songs…

  18. Loved the post, if I may be permitted to add :-
    1) Motorcycle — Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana (Andaz, Rajesh Hema)

    2) Helicopter (& WaterSkis) — Aasman Se Aaya Farishta (AEIP, Shammi Sharmila) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IXRIDQTbU0
    3) Three Wheeled Car — Ek Rasta Do Rahi (Ram Balram, Dharam Amitabh) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQBZsY7SJP4
    4) And though your bicycle song is excellent, I would choose
    Bicycle — He Maine Kasam Li (Tere Mere Sapne, Dev Mumtaz)

    5) Paraglider (& WaterSkis) — Dil Kaaton Mein Uljhaya Hain (Barood, Rishi Shoma) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1-IiFmgFL0
    6) Single Decker Bus — Dekha Na Hai Re Socha Na (BtoG, Amitabh Mehmood Aruna) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAJpRg5lcYo
    7) Double Decker Bus — Janoo Meri Jaan (Shaan, Amitabh Shashi Parveen Bindiya) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiIYXv-nZmY

    I am trying to think of a good airplane song, but cannot find one. Also, I will admit my songs #3, 5 & 7 were merely selected to add variety; as songs they are not the best.
    I could have added Elephant Chal Chal Chal Mere Sathi; but strictly speaking no one rides an Elephant in that song. Maybe Jannewale Jara Hoshiyar (Rakjumar, Shammi Sadhana)
    Cannot find a good horseback song either.
    Looking forward to the next series.

  19. Samir, thank you! I like some of the songs you’ve selected, though I do agree that some seem to be there only for variety and not for the excellence of the song itself ;-)

    My thoughts on these:

    Zindagi ek safar hai suhaana: This was definitely top of my list for a motorcycle song – until I saw the song more closely and realised they’re on the motorcycle for only about one verse (as far as I remember) – and that doesn’t go with my self-imposed rule of the person(s) being on the vehicle for at least 80% of the song. So, no go.

    Aasmaan se aaya farishta: Same reason. He switches from helicopter to motorboat – so there’s no one mode of transport it can be attributed to. But I’d think this would probably go down in history as a song that features the largest number of different means of transport!

    Ek rasta do raahi: I don’t do beyond the 60′s except very occasionally – and then I stop at about 1971.

    He maine kasam li: Ah, lovely song. This was certainly in the running: I think I gave it up because they do spend a bit of time off the cycle. But one of my favourite Mumtaz songs. It’s such a wonderful song!

    Dil kaanton mein uljhaaya hai: Same reason as for Ek rasta do raahi (which also holds true for Dekha na hai re socha na, although I rather like that song! ;-) – and for Janoo meri jaan.

    I’m trying to get together a list for the sequel, and Jaanewaale zara hoshiyaar figures on that! Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find too many other vehicle songs, though I do have a very nice one on horseback, one aboard ship, and one on a rickshaw… am keeping my fingers crossed that I find something interesting soon!

  20. We are trying to find a song (another in-transit song sung in a Black-&-White movie scene of Dev Anand singing a song standing next to a riverboat, and people are getting on the bost while he stands there and sings. Do you know the song? We have been trying to find it for a long time but nobody seems to know what it is. Enjoying your website.

  21. Do you think it could be from the film Ferry? I remember having seen it a long time back, but that’s it – I don’t remember the songs or the cast (other than Dev Anand, Geeta Bali and a child actor I can’t really recall). The only other B/W Dev Anand+boat song I can remember is Yeh nayi-nayi preet hai from Pocketmaar, but that’s not the one you mean, I think – it’s picturised completely on a boat with him and Geeta Bali.

    If you do remember, let me know as well!

  22. The “Saaheb” song is available in another youtube link

    If you are looking for an elephant ride song, here is one such song

    Here is a superb rickshaw ride song

  23. I’ve heard the song from Ban Phool earlier, but had forgotten all about it. Good song, liked it a lot. And Chori-chori dil ka lagaana: I’d never heard that one before, but yes, it is a superb song. :-)

  24. My very late contribution (missed this post somehow), is in a police van. I see that Vinayak has already mentioned a satyakam song in it.

    This one from Johar and Mehmood in Goa (1965) is also in the same mode of transportation.

    • How irritating – Youtube tells me that “The uploader has not made this video available in your country.” Uff. And the video doesn’t seem to be available on any other site, either. But thank you for at least giving me that lead!

  25. A slightly different take, not a transit ride song, but Nanda in a wheelchair
    Sahir’s romance, Ravi’s silky music.Rafi is so magical.
    How about Ravi’s top 10?What a composer!!

    • “What a composer!!”

      Absolutely. Some of my favourite songs have been composed by him, and he holds the distinction of being the person who composed my two favourite ‘crooner’ songs. Yes, he certainly deserves a post. Do you know when is his birthday? I looked high and low on the Net, but couldn’t find that…

  26. Pingback: O re maanjhii… « Harveypam's Blog

    • Both of them seem to have specialised in singing songs while on trains or cars, no? I think one could do a ‘Songs sung in a car’ list for both Shammi and Dev Anand separately, and probably have songs to spare!

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