Tag Archives: Baat Ek Raat Ki [1962]

Arunkumar Deshmukh’s 10 favourite cycle songs

Arunji has been a loyal follower of this blog and has always been very much encouraging. With this post he makes his debut here on this blog in the role of an author. It is an honour for me that he agreed to do this post. His personal reminiscences makes this post more dear to me. Now, without much ado I give the microphone to him.

It is said, that Indian Films represent the life in India. There is, however, a section of people who believe that the society emulates what is shown in films. So, what is the truth?

When the Talkie came to India and films were made, only one thought was there in the minds of the producers and that was to make films based on Mythological and Historical stories.
This went on for first 5-6 years, but then film makers realised that people will like their films if they could relate their lives with it. So, films based on stories with village background, the caste system, dowry, the moneylender and the farmers were made. These became popular. The urban and the city viewer who was educated were looking for something different. Thus, films were made on love stories set in cities and bigger towns.

Those days middle class was growing in India by leaps and bounds and these were the people, who could spend the money. Now these were the people the films were aimed at.
In the 40s and 50s, the most common transportation vehicle was CYCLE. Almost everybody knew how to ride a cycle. Few people had cars and motorcycles had not yet become popular. Scooters were yet unknown.

I remember, I got my first Cycle when I was in school. My school was 3-4 miles far and I used the cycle to go to school in the morning and to go to friends in the evening. There were many cycles on the road and there was a Traffic rule that every cycle must have a Lamp on the Cycle’s handle as a caution to other vehicles. These lamps were kerosene and Cotton-batti lamps in the night. Sometimes, the lamps got extinguished due to wind. Unaware of this, the police used to catch us. On hearing our plea about the lamp, wind etc, the police would touch the glass of the lamp. if it was still warm, we were let out with a warning only. This was the life in late 40s and early 50s, when I was in Hyderabad State.

It was natural that now cycles too should feature in films. Imaginative Directors used cycles for the heroes when they chased the heroines and for the heroines when they went on a picnic with sahelis. In many films, the village affluents would be shown as cycle owners and the city people using it for moving about.

Up to the 70s, cycles were part of many films. Slowly, cycles were replaced by scooters, Mopeds and motor cycles in films and by 80s, it was only cars and fancy Mobikes for the heroes. Poor cycles were reduced to be shown, only used by the doodhwalla bhaiyyas (milk-men).
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Posted by on October 2, 2012 in Bollywood, Guest Post, Lists


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Aanewaalaa phal, jaanewaalaa hai… (The fruits, they come and go… )

Fruits! Delicious, luscious fruits! One would say everybody loves fruits. They are nutritious, taste good and are attractive for the eye. Well, they have to be, after all the plant wants it’s children to travel far and wide. Why then this step-motherly treatment to these fabulous creations of nature in Hindi film songs?

Fruits were and are associated with lust. Offering of the apple by Eve to Adam is often cited as an example of this partnership in sin. The Indian censors were very strict about this and only let small and insignificant fruits be sung about in the film songs. As you must have noticed in my post Fruit cake, even if they allowed some fruits to slip through, they saw to it that they had the ugliest melodies possible or it is was done indirectly like ambua ki dali (a mango branch) or beri ke neeche (below the jujube tree). Not the fruits themselves but the tree was in the focal point. Lots of lyricists still wrote lyrics mentioning the fruits of their taste or which suited the scene and occasion. All these attempts were brutally suppressed and the words changed beyond recognition.

During my stay in India in July, in London in August and the last week’s stay in the Black Forest, I could meet witnesses and activists in exile. They told me stories of suppression and oppression of artists and poets of the Bombay film industry by the censors. They told me stories of how works of art where mutilated on the grounds of decency and morality.

I can only write about ten such songs. After reading this article, you, my dear intelligent readers will surely see through many other songs, which we sing every day and have been racking our brains why a certain word doesn’t quite fit in.
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Posted by on October 21, 2011 in Bollywood, Lists


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