My Yahoo! Movies column, first published here.
As Bullett Raja kick-starts its ride across cinemas today, it is just the right time to look at the cool bikes of Bollywood. Two-wheels have always been the choice of cool people in Hindi cinema. Here are some of the best.
One of the most famous bikes of Bollywood doesn’t have two wheels. When small-time crooks Jai and Veeru escaped with someone’s bike, they got a side-car free. Riding the bike (licence plate MYB 3047), they zoomed across highways and sang a happy song. Within the song, they managed to steal a cap, lose the side-car, try to put line on a girl and convince us of their friendship.
Many years later, the real-life Jai and Veeru’s sons – Abhishek Bachchan and Bobby Deol – reprised the scene with yet another bike-with-a-sidecar, for a film called Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. Everyone agreed classics shouldn’t be messed with.
Reprises – especially with the same set of stars or their offspring – are loved by audiences and filmmakers alike.
Forty years ago, a young pair – Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia – acted in a teeny-bopper romance called Bobby in which the hero took his girl around in a cool new bike. While the bike looks a little clunky now, it was the cool thing at that time.
Thirty years later, the same pair acted as two oldies falling in love again and this time also, they left their sedans and convertibles in favour of a cruiser bike. They bike was way cooler than the original as were the leading pair.
The most exhilarating bike sequence in Bollywood is when a poor orphan is urged by a fakir to forget his sorrows and laugh out loud. As the sound of his laughter grew louder, the scene changed from his dark childhood to the bright seaside roads of Bombay. The music reached a crescendo when Sikandar zoomed on to Marine Drive on his bike, singing Rote hue aate hain sab, hasta hua jo jayega... Amitabh Bachchan was super-handsome and the peak of his stardom when Muqaddar Ka Sikandar released and this bike-song went up a few notches because of his charisma.
Bikes got a starring role when a ruffian tried to reform and got a job in a bike factory. The film was Hero and the ruffian was Jackie Shroff in his first leading role.
In an early form of product placement, Jackie dada worked in the Rajdoot factory and was inordinately proud of the ‘best bike in India’. He picked fights with NRIs who thought Indian bikes weren’t good enough and finally, participated in a bike race where the irresistible Jackie and Rajdoot combo beat the Jimmy Thapa (Shakti Kapoor) and Honda combo with panache.
You see, all bikes don’t win races and roar into life at the flick of a key. Sometimes, they have to kicked and cajoled to start. And sometimes, they don’t start at all. Especially if you are a poor Delhi University student, living from money order to money order.
Sai Paranjpye’s classic Chashme Buddoor had three friends – Siddharth, Jomo and Omi – and with Jomo’s recalcitrant bike, they formed an unlikely quartet. The bike was used to pick up girls at the drop of a hat though it stopped running, also at the drop of a hat. Except when the three friends had to sing a song, the bike worked just fine and the trio threw caution and helmets to the winds as they rode their steed with gay abandon in the open streets of 1980s Delhi.
As a famous two-wheeler ad asks, why should boys have all the fun?
In Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Katrina Kaif picked up her friend’s motorcycle and helmet to race after the man she realised she was in love with. Hrithik Roshan got the most pleasant surprise of his life when the devastatingly good-looking Kat came up to his car in a bike, took off the helmet nonchalantly and smooched the hell out of him.
In Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, it was Anushka Sharma’s turn to snatch a super-bike from her wimpy companion and get into a duel with a biker gang. She looked super-cool as the salwar-kameez-wearing Punjabi kudi who blazed around on a super-bike. Her companion hung on for dear life.
When Anushka revved her bike, the background music was from another film from the same production house – Dhoom.
The Dhoom series is all about fast women, faster cars and fastest bikes. It started with the first film where the whole heist was dependent on nitrogen-fuelled super-bikes zooming down Mumbai’s Western Express highway. And in the forthcoming Dhoom 3, Aamir Khan is another super-thief who is about to zip off on a bike and even slipping an inch away from a mega-truck. It keeps getting bigger and faster.
In the recent past, action superstar Jean Claude Van Damme performed an amazing stunt in an ad for Volvo trucks that has gone ‘viral’ with vengeance.
What we tend to forget is that the origin of the stunt happened in our very own Bollywood. Nearly twenty years ago, Ajay Devgn made his debut in an action-romantic-thriller called Phool Aur Kaante where he made his appearance standing on two bikes and doing a split even more amazing than Van Damme’s.
You see, bikes and Bollywood are just made for each other!