This post has been floating about in my head for a long time—at least, ever since I did a post on car songs (in which I’d mentioned pretty clearly that I meant only cars, not jeeps). When some readers began putting in jeep songs in the comments too, I figured I had to do a jeep songs list sometime. So here it is, after a long wait.
Unlike cars, which seem to be all over the place in Hindi cinema, being driven both through the countryside and in cities, jeeps are a little less ubiquitous. And there seem to be unwritten rules about who drives them (invariably men). And, more often than not, men in the countryside—preferably a hilly countryside. There’s that perception, I suppose, of the jeep being a rugged vehicle, one suited for rough roads and steep inclines: not the sort of thing a swanky imported car in 50s or 60s cinema would be able to handle.
I imposed a couple of restrictions on myself for this post. Firstly, a song qualifies as a ‘jeep song’ only if the singer is in the jeep (he or she may not be driving). Secondly, the singer should be in the jeep for at least ¾ of the song.
So, here goes. Ten jeep songs, all (except two, which are on the cusp as far as period is concerned) from pre-70s films that I’ve seen. These are in no particular order.
1. Pukaarta chala hoon main (Mere Sanam, 1965): This, despite the fact that it’s been picturized on Biswajeet—not one of my favourites—is the first song that always comes to my mind when I think of jeep songs. The music (OP Nayyar) is simply sublime, and Rafi’s rendition—so romantic, yet flirtatious—makes it an absolute winner for me. The scenery is beautiful (that avenue of poplars! The river and that quaint wooden bridge!), Asha Parekh is lovely, and I can listen to this over and over and over again.
Incidentally, there’s this interestingly little video on Youtube of the original guitarist, Sunil, playing the tune now.
2. Mere sapnon ki raani kab aayegi tu (Aradhana, 1969): And this is the second song that occurs to me when ‘jeep songs’ is mentioned. Also a serenade to a beautiful stranger. Also in the Himalayas—though this is en route to Darjeeling, and actually on a mountain road, rather than the flat Kashmir Valley road of Pukaarta chala hoon main. And Rajesh Khanna’s dashing Air Force officer, instead of trying to drive and sing at the same time, takes the help of his friend, Sujit Kumar, who does the driving, leaving our hero free to do not just the singing, but the grinning, the flinging around of the body, the everything-that-lets-her-know-she’s-admired. (Sujit Kumar does join in on the mouth organ now and then, but that’s about it).
3. Kaun hai jo sapnon mein aaya (Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan, 1968): From inviting the ‘queen of one’s dreams’ to come on in and become a part of life, to wondering who this is who’s come into his dreams and brought heaven down to earth with her—another jeep song by a besotted lover. Rajendra Kumar drives up (and all alone, too, driving fairly fast, yet finding the time to gesture and sing and all) from the plains into the hills, past tea gardens and into—literally, though the song ends before that—the realm of fluffy white clouds. Not an actor I care for much, but I like the music and rendition of this song, and Rajendra Kumar wasn’t too bad in this film.
4. Soch rahi ki kahoon na kahoon (Ek Phool Chaar Kaante, 1960): After all those songs with lovelorn men singing romantic songs for passing women or absent sweethearts, a song sung by a woman for the man she loves. Two of my favourite actors—Waheeda Rehman and Sunil Dutt—come together in this sweetly romantic song from a delightful film about a man who ends up having to don four different disguises and personas in order to win over the four uncles of his girlfriend. Here, the young couple escapes into the countryside, where he can be himself. Driving an open jeep, where his girl even briefly sits on the hood, singing to him, ruffling his hair affectionately, telling him how much she loves him.
The music, incidentally (by Shankar-Jaikishan), borrows rather freely from Piccolissima Serenata, composed by Antonio Amurri and Gianni Ferrio.
5. Sun lo sunaata hoon tumko kahaani (Andaaz, 1971): And, to prove that there are different types of love, each of which can be the inspiration for a jeep-driving man to burst into song: a song for a huffy daughter. Andaaz, though it was released in 1971, has much of the late 60s in it, not least Shammi Kapoor, in what I think of as his last good role as a hero. And a really good role, too, in an unusually mature film about a widower and a widow falling in love.
In Sun lo sunaata hoon tumko kahaani, Shammi Kapoor, as the father of a little girl who’s thoroughly peeved because Daddy’s been neglecting her—or so she thinks—sets out to win her back. She walks on, putting up a show of being annoyed, while he tries to wheedle her with a kiddie song—all across the mountains, even off the road. She succumbs pretty soon, and the Daddy-daughter duet which ensues is cute.
6. Masti mein chhedke taraana koi dil ka (Haqeeqat, 1964): Like Kaun hai jo sapnon mein aaya, another song in which a man driving a jeep sings of the woman he loves. Vijay Anand, as the army officer posted high up in Ladakh, with the Indo-China war looming just beyond, sings of carefree times, of the woman he loves, whom he misses.
If Haqeeqat were set (and possibly even made) a year or two later, this vehicle would probably have been the more sturdy and rugged jonga, which was introduced in 1963-64. The jonga is what is used almost exclusively in high-altitude areas like Ladakh, and that—combined with the glorious views of Ladakh that appear in this song—make Masti mein chhedke taraana koi dil ka dear to me: it reminds me of two fortnight-long road trips through Ladakh during my childhood. In a jonga, of course, and going along some of the roads (beside the Indus, along the easily recognizable Hangro Loops) the jeep drives by in this song.
7. Main raahi anjaan raahon ka (Anjaana, 1969): One song that has nothing to do with love, romantic or otherwise. Rajendra Kumar, as a garage mechanic, drives through the hills and valleys near his village in his jeep. Accompanying him are his two employees-cum-friends, and between them, the three of them celebrate the essence of being footloose and fancy-free. There is a mention of hoping for love, wondering if somewhere along this way, a beloved will be waiting. At its core, though, this is a song about being a stranger, but happy. Not lonely, not aching for love.
8. Meri jaan meri jaan kehna maano (Do Chor, 1972): Yes, 1972 isn’t exactly ‘pre-70s’, but, like the song for Andaaz, I’m making an exception for this one. For various reasons; Dharmendra and Tanuja (both looking gorgeous here, Tanuja huffy and Dharmendra coaxing-teasing) are among my favourites; the film is rather more reminiscent, to me, of late 60s masala thrillers like Aankhen than more solidly 70s stuff like Blackmail or Dharmputra; and it’s just such a fun song. Romantic, playful, delightful.
And yes, this is one of those unusual jeep songs that’s set, not in the countryside, but in a city. Bombay, no less.
9. Tumhaare pyaar mein hum beqaraar hoke chale (Shikaar, 1968): The only song in this list in which, though the singer is male, the person driving the jeep is a woman. A very stylish Asha Parekh calmly drives through the hills while Dharmendra (as handsome as ever) tries to woo her—and successfully too. He’s also at his athletic best, riding on the step of the jeep, clambering onto its hood, then peering over the windshield, before climbing into the (still moving) vehicle through the side. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, alighting, running off to the back, and climbing in through there. Without missing a note!
A very picturesque picturization, and though they do step out of the jeep for the last verse, that’s it—the rest of the song is on the jeep.
10. Pyaar ka fasaana banaa le dil deewaana (Teesra Kaun, 1965): Teesra Kaun was one of those typical B-grade crime films of the 60s: forgettable story, not a very starry cast—but fairly hummable music. Neither Kalpana nor Feroz Khan are great favourites of mine, but this song is pleasant enough. And its picturization just goes to show how you can make a straightforward jeep song quite an ‘active’ one too. If Dharmendra managed to show a fair bit of athletic ability in Tumhaare pyaar mein hum beqaraar hoke chale, both Kalpana and Feroz Khan show they’re not to be scoffed at, either: they even stand up and dance, lie down on the hood, and do just about everything short of the hula in that jeep. Not always in a moving jeep, but still.
Which are your favourite jeep songs?