7 most iconic cycling scenes from Bollywood | Condé Nast Traveller India | InternationalJune 2, 2021
From Aamir Khan’s big win in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar’s great cycle race to Saira Banu’s spirited ride with her girl gang in Padosan, Bollywood gave us icons and it gave us a reason to celebrate bicycles. From young love to social justice, from flirtations to great races, the cycle was the symbol of an era before Lamborghinis spelled coolth and romance, comedies and drama played out on a slow and steady pair of wheels.
Here are seven iconic moments when Bollywood spotlighted the bicycle
The final cycle race in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar
This 1992 film directed by Mansoor Khan was an iconic moment for Hindi cinema and cycling. In it cycling became a metaphor for teenage love, high school rivalries and class dynamics. This coming-of-age film set amid the lush hills of Kodaikanal not only gave a generation songs like “Pehla Nasha”, but also a working knowledge of the different gears that it took to ride a mountain bike well. The main cast featuring Aamir Khan, Ayesha Jhulka, Pooja Bedi, Deepak Tijori and the now-forgotten actor Mamik rode on their cycles whether the agenda was a date, an errand, a daily commute, or the competition of the year. A stellar soundtrack scored by Jatin-Lalit matched the tempo of each ride and all of the angst, love, drama and jealousy culminated in a nail-biting cycle race where the underdog won the day…and the girl.
Amitabh Bachchan discovering Kolkata streets on a cycle in Piku
This Shoojit Sircar film about the occasionally grouchy, occasionally witty and largely lovable Bhashkor Banerjee and his daughter Piku finds its high points in the humour with which it discusses life, death, bowel movements and everything in between. The action takes off with a road trip and along the way, Bhashkor finds a cure for his constipation and gives Piku a sense of freedom. One of the most heartwarming moments in the film is the frail Bhashkor cycling around the streets of Kolkata, indulging in street food, fresh air and a momentary return to a youth he had left far behind. The gentle slow wheeling gait of the cycle and its rider is a perfect way to see the cinematic and fading grandeur of the city unfold.
Rajesh Khanna as the village postman on a cycle in Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein
“Dakiya daak laya”, a much-awaited call for the thousands of small villages across India is immortalised in a song by Kishore Kumar in the 1977 film Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein. The postman on his cycle was an iconic figure in India in an era before the Internet, carrying news of friends, family and the single most powerful connection with the outside world. In this film, a chance event transforms the unemployed Rajesh Khanna into a postman who is transferred to the tiny village of Sitapur. The film captures his dual role as a messenger relaying the truth and a friend and lover of the people he has come to know and care for. His cycle with its recognizable bell becomes a beacon of hope drawing people out of their homes in search of news and long-awaited letters.
The girl gang take to the streets on cycles in Padosan
Saira Banu and her friends are footloose and fancy-free in their 1960s bouffants, bell-bottoms and colourful cycles with baskets. This sequence is a departure from other Hindi films of the period where the girls on cycles are usually followed by young men vying for their attention and favour. This 1968 film directed by Jyoti Swarup celebrates the independent woman who has the freedom to cycle around a city as well as choose her suitor according to her terms.
Superstars Amitabh and Shashi Kapoor ride a tandem bike in Shaan
When two brothers played by Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor set out to woo their love interests, they bring out their best songs and a tandem bicycle. The two small-time swindlers find their counterparts in fellow thieves, Bindiya Goswami and Parveen Babi. The cycle, song and vested interests make them join forces as the awesome foursome who eventually win the day and defeat the master villain Shakaal on his kitschy island hideout.
Anil Kapoor channels mid-century nostalgia on a cycle in 1942: A Love Story
The lovestruck Anil Kapoor cycling through the fictional hill station of Kasauni fits perfectly with the burgeoning romance with his love interest Manisha Koirala. This is the lull before the violence and bloodshed of the revolutionary movement against the British colonizers and of the time when Anil Kapoor is the young lad with his beret and cycle with a song and a dream.
Salman Khan and the Concorde bicycle in Maine Pyaar Kiya
Salman Khan plays the hard-to-get brat uttering his famous “Abhi mood nahin hain” line” even as Bhagyashree tries to catch his eye. Then he proceeds to cycle around his house (shirtless) on his blue Concorde bicycle, trying to make his love interest jealous and shockingly carrying off this absurd routine with his own odd flair.