Ten of my favourite bicycle songs

Today is World Bicycle Day, used to promote the use of bicycles as a cheap, healthy, and eco-friendly means of transport. I have to admit I actually never learnt to cycle (I fell too many times as a kid when learning, and was too much of a coward to persist).

But bicycles happen to be important and very visible means of transportation in old Hindi cinema, so why not a post to celebrate it?  The bicycle, as it is even now, is the one vehicle that’s available even to the not-terribly-prosperous. A character who owned a car, just by virtue of that ownership, was automatically identified as moneyed. If you could not afford a car but were not utterly broke either, you had a bicycle. It didn’t need expensive fuel, yet it got you around faster than if you just walked everywhere.

So, without further ado, the songs. As always, these are all from pre-1970s Hindi films that I’ve seen. Each song is ‘sung’ by someone on a bicycle through at least three-fourths of the song. 

1. Saanwle-salone aaye din bahaar ke (Ek Hi Raasta, 1956): One of the few songs in Hindi cinema featuring a tandem bicycle. This wonderful little song is a delight, in a class by itself. A small and very happy family, consisting of parents (played by Sunil Dutt and Meena Kumari) and child (Daisy Irani) goes off on a picnic. As they cycle through a verdant countryside, the little boy plays a harmonica while the parents sing in praise of spring, of nature, of the joy and love they feel in being together.

2. Banke panchhi gaaye pyaar ka taraana (Anari, 1959): The cycle, both in cinema as well as real life, was a symbol of a certain amount of liberation for women. The young woman from a family not too well off to afford a car (or even a scooter or moped), but given a bicycle instead, was no longer dependent on public transport (or on a male relative)—to go to college or school, for instance. In Hindi cinema, the young woman’s cycle became also a means for female bonding: for flocks of sahelis to go off by themselves, singing as they cycled along. In Anari, Nutan’s character is by no means poor; but her having a cycle makes it all that much easier for her to go off on a jaunt with a gang of girls too many to have fitted into a car. And, as often happens when Hindi film heroines set out with their sahelis, they sing of the love that might be waiting just around the corner… and literally, because also coming along on a bicycle, blissfully unaware, is the man himself.

3. Main chali main chali (Padosan, 1968): Another song, very similar to Banke panchhi gaaye pyaar ka taraana: another group of sahelis, out on their bicycles, and singing of love. In this case, though, there’s not the universal yearning for a romance. While Saira Banu’s Bindu is definitely looking forward to falling in love, her friends caution her: this isn’t something to be indulged in lightly, it can be dangerous, she can lose a lot… another fun song, and the locale is pretty: a city, of course, but with lots of flowers and trees and lawns lining the road all the way. And the song itself is a good one, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle singing perfectly in tandem and the chorus fitting in very well.

4. Aanchal ko udne do (Picnic, 1966): Yet another gang of girls out on their bicycles. Azra and her onscreen friends do this entire song as they cycle along (at times, pretty fast, and even with her holding a harmonica up to her lips now and then). The countryside is picturesque, with the women going over a bridge, under trees, along a rather scenic highway and through what looks like a forest or a plantation. Very pretty, and the music (by the much underrated S Mohinder) is a delight.

5. Akela hoon main is duniya mein (Baat ek Raat ki, 1962): It’s not just women who go off with a group of friends on bicycles now and then; so do men, like Dev Anand in Baat Ek Raat Ki. Oddly enough, though he’s with this group of people, he insists on singing that he’s alone in this world: an oblique reference to the loneliness of the long distance cyclist? Who knows. It’s a good song, though, and while he does transfer to a boat for the last stanza in the song, the rest of Akela hoon main is picturized on the bicycle.

6. Goriye baliye kahaan leke chali (Tel Maalish Boot Polish, 1961): And then there’s the song which is a romantic duet: where one person is in a car (or, as in the case of the lovely Pukarta chala hoon main, a jeep) while the object of his/her affection is on a bicycle. Pukarta chala hoon main, with Asha Parekh and her onscreen sahelis on bicycles, couldn’t be included in this list, because Asha’s character doesn’t sing even a line of that song, but Goriye baliye kahaan leke chali is a nice inversion of that trope. Here, Kumkum and her friends (who’ve been cycling too, and have loaded their cycles onto the back of her car) are driving along, slowly enough for her admirer (Chandrashekhar) to be able to keep up on his bicycle. It’s a love song, all oblivious of the giggling bystanders, as he woos her and she teasingly tosses his praise away.

7. Chal mere dil lehraake chal (Ishaara, 1964): My main reason for liking this song is its picturization. Delhi is the city where I’ve lived most of my life, and Chal mere dil lehraake chal is a veritable Dilli darshan, so to say: you see a good bit of the city here, from the Red Fort and its environs to Lutyens’s Delhi. A good bit of it is just montage, but there are sections (near Red Fort and the railway bridge, just past the large buildings housing the ministries, and near Connaught Place) where Joy Mukherjee is actually cycling through the place, and it’s interesting to see Delhi as it was almost 60 years ago. Plus, the song’s not a bad one, either.

8. Unse rippi-tippi ho gayi (Agra Road, 1957): As in Goriye baliye kahaan leke chali, here too the song is divided between people on cycles and people in a car. Shakeela and Vijay Anand sit in the car, she driving and singing, he singing now and then and looking mock-huffy. Their friends follow on bicycles, pedaling along leisurely and singing the song. Interestingly, while there are only two playback singers (Mohammad Rafi and Geeta Dutt), the number of people lip-syncing to these two voices is fairly impressive. A fun, infectious song, and I love the beauty of that countryside: the tall palm trees soaring up into the sky is especially lovely.

9. Dil mera ek aas ka panchhi (Aas ka Panchhi, 1961): One of those rare bicycle songs that has nothing to do with romance, existing or hoped-for. Instead, as Rajendra Kumar’s NCC cadet cycles all through what looks like a cantonment and beyond, he sings of his dreams. Where he’s bound for, which skies he’s going to be soaring in, what heights he’ll scale. While Rajendra Kumar looks far too old to be a college student (but then, when did Hindi film actors ever fit that role?), this song’s one of my favourites: there’s something very buoyant and ebullient about both lyrics as well as music, and I think Subir Sen sings it well.

10. Michael hai toh cycle hai (Bewaqoof, 1960): I began this list with a song featuring a tandem cycle. I’ll end this post with another song in which, too, the singers are on a tandem cycle. Kishore Kumar and Mala Sinha play two madcap characters who’ve recently confessed their love to each other and are out on a date, cycling (the couple that exercises together, stays together?) They nearly bump into a much older couple, a man named Michael and his wife, Michael going round singing “Michael hai toh cycle hai” in a shaky sort of voice until he loses control of his cycle and falls off, along with his wife. That’s when our two lovers take up the song and carry it forward, zipping along merrily past gardens and through verdant countryside as they sing lustily.

Which other cycle songs do you like? Please share!

71 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite bicycle songs

    • Thank you for posting Saawan ke nazaarein hain, Richard! I hoped someone would – because I too think this is probably the oldest cycle song in Hindi cinema. (Incidentally, though it isn’t apparent at all, the introductory screenshot of my post is from this song. I haven’t seen the film, so couldn’t include the song in my list, but I did want to include a nod to it, at least).

  1. Few postmen songs…the postman was and still is (!) the ubiquitous govt employee who gets a cycle as his occupational asset.
    Ik ritu aaye, Ik ritu jaaye from Gautam Govinda

  2. Hi Madhuji, there must be plenty of other songs with the “Cycling” theme. Though the song was pretty familiar, I saw the video of “saawle salone aaye din bahar ke” for the first time. . It brings a warm glow to the heart. Liked the Ishaara, Agra Road and Aas Ka Panchi songs too.

    Regarding other songs on this theme, In Paying Guest (1957) movie, dashing Dev Anand while singing “Mana Janab ne pukara nahin”, in the first minute, is seen cycling and partly walking along with it and in the last minute both Nutan and Dev Anand are cycling. In the 1968 movie, Anokhi Raat, Sanjeev Kumar is cycling most of the time while singing, “Dulhan se tumhara milan hoga”. In te 1961 movie,”Pyaase Panchhi”, Mehmood is shown cycling while singing, ” Pyaase Panchhi neel gagan mein”. It is much more charming than the usual boring group cycling songs that unimaginative directors force upon a not too demanding audience.
    One interesting fact about the Agra Road song was Rafi saab’s yodelling. Loved it. Thank you Madhuji for an interesting collection.

    • I am so glad you enjoyed this post, and yes – I do think Rafi’s yodelling in Unse rippy-tippy ho gayi is superb. The song itself is such a happy, frothy one that it always brings a smile to my face.

      Thank you, also, for reminding me about Dulhan se tumhaara miln hoga; though I’ve watched the film, I’d forgotten all about the picturization of this song:

      And Pyaase panchhi neel gagan mein was new to me. Thank you – nice song!

    • I wouldn’t say so, not as per my criteria (which need not be other people’s criteria!). They’re on the cycles only for a part of the song. Of course, one may argue that the cycle plays an important part in it, given that the cycle bell is used as a vital prop – it even appears in the music of the song.

      • I do believe that this song is a must have in such a list. It is an absolute classic. But then I am partial to anything that involves Nutan.

  3. Great list as always! Quite a few of the older songs were new to me especially the one from Agra Road – what a fun song! I was reminded of this lovely song as well –

  4. This is one of my favorites. It is not pre-1970 and there are moments when the couple is not on the bike.

    • I had completely forgotten Dheemi -dheemi bheeni-bheeni khushboo – very nice. The only song I remember (and very vividly) from this film is Ishwar Allah tere jahaan mein.

  5. Snigdha has mentioned just above the song that came first to my mind, since I recently watched “Aarop.” It is not a song per se, but the opening title music of the same film is also picturized on cyclists. The titles play while a couple of newspaper deliverymen ride their route (the film having mostly to do with a local newspaper). The music incorporates the sound of the bicycle bells:

    One of my goals for this year is to ride my bicycle around town. I learned to cycle in a very rural place where there was virtually no automobile traffic, so I feel very nervous to be out on the road here among the cars. I hope to make it all the way to the grocery store eventually; so far I have only been brave enough to go around the block to the mailbox ( ;

    • Interesting! I haven’t seen Aarop (or not that I remember) – I should someday, given that I like Vinod Khanna a lot.

      “…there was virtually no automobile traffic, so I feel very nervous to be out on the road here among the cars.

      I hear you. I learnt to drive, many years ago, in a part of Delhi that was mostly wide roads with very little traffic (around the diplomatic enclave). Then, I was diagnosed with epilepsy and not allowed to drive for around the next 25 years. Now, though I am medically okay to drive, I am too scared to do so – the traffic here is crazy, I doubt if I could go beyond getting our car out of the basement parking in our gated community!

      • I have a write-up of “Aarop” in draft, so I should make the effort to actually edit and post it. It has a few overblown moments that may not be to your taste, but the heart is definitely in the right place. Vinod K. certainly gets a strong role as the zealous newspaper editor.

        When I was fourteen, my mother took me “into the city” to take the driving exam for my farm license. I’m certain that, being from Delhi, you will be favorably impressed when I say that this city had 4,000 inhabitants and two intersections with traffic lights! Having learned to drive in open pasture and only recently graduating to the dirt roads in the countryside, I had no experience navigating a town. I was so terrified of bumping into the curbs that I drove the whole test at a snail’s pace. At the end, the proctor told me that she should have docked me for driving too slowly–but then rolled her eyes, said that “all the country kids” did the same thing, and gave me the license anyway. In fact, that’s the only driving test I’ve ever taken.

  6. You pipped me to the post, my dear, pun intended. :) Of course, I had a bicycle songs list and quite a few of the songs here featured on it as well. But here’s one that features on mine and not yours:
    Ho lakh museebat raste mein from Pyaasa; of course, the film doesn’t have the full song, given that it’s a flashback. I’m assuming that Dutt edited it so only a partial clip was used in the film.

    I don’t know if you would consider this as a bicycle song because half of it is a ‘picnic’ song: Jab din haseen dil ho jawaan from Adalat

    This song would have fit right into my gender wars post: Cycle pe haseeno.n ki toli from Amaanat

    From Nazrana, Mere peechhe ik deewana – they start and end on bicycles even if they get on a boat in between.

    Another ‘sahelis out on bicycles’ song from Picnic – Aanchal ko udne do

    • I’m so glad there were songs in your list that didn’t overlap with yours, Anu! Though one of the songs here is on my list – Aanchal ko udne do. And the song from Pyaasa had been on my shortlist; I dropped it because it was so short, and because too little time, in my opinion, was spent on a bicycle. But happy to see you posting it!

      Cycle pe haseenon ko toli should take pride of place on a cycle list, I guess, given that even the lyrics talk of the cycle. :-)

      BTW, here’s another cycle song which is more a tribute to cycles than most, even though the singer (Johnny Walker) doesn’t spend all that much time on a cycle. In Zara ruk jaa o pyaare ruk jaa from Sitaaron se Aage, he plays a cycle repairman trying to drum up some business:

      • Yes, I realized that Aanchal ke udne do was in your list (and I had just read it!) after I pressed ‘post comment’.

        I had the Sitaron se Aage song on my list but didn’t post it here because while it had cycles aplenty, the singer was not on one. :)

        • “while it had cycles aplenty, the singer was not on one. :)

          He does climb onto a bicycle now and then, but yes – not for any appreciable length of time. :-)

  7. I love that song from Ek Hi Raasta so much. It’s soooo cute.

    All I can offer is various horrifying Govinda songs and Janu Meri Jaan which is also outside your scope, and which I don’t like despite the Shashitabh of it all:

  8. In 1982, I came upon my first Hindi film on television Ghunghat (1960), I knew nothing at that time about the role songs play in Indian films, and when early on in it the characters began singing while riding bicycles, I was enchanted with the idea of seeing an Indian “musical”. The song was ‘Yeh Zindagi Ka Mausam’. {is on youtube] Til your post I did not realize there were so many bicycle songs .

    • What a delightful memory! I guess if one’s grown up with Hindi cinema, one realizes very early on that a non-musical Hindi film is the odd one out; if one hasn’t, it might be a bit of a shock (?) to discover that.

      Thank you for Yeh zindagi ka mausam – I hadn’t remembered this one, though I’ve seen this film (and intend to watch it again sometime, once I’ve read Rabindranath Tagore’s The Wreck, on which it was based).

  9. A wonderful post on the occasion of the World Bicycle Day!!

    Here’s one non-romantic song picturized on Johnny Walker in Paigham 1959

  10. What a wonderful theme for the post!

    When I read the topic, my first thought was “Saware salone aaye din bahaar ke” had better be there. To my delight, it is #1 in your list. My next thought was, the song from Anari had better be there. And it is #2!

    Thoroughly enjoyed revisiting (and visiting, some are new to me) the songs you posted, as well as the many songs in the comments. (I was surprised that Eh Maine Kasam Li was not on your list; hadn’t realised it was post 70!)

    Thank you so much, Madhulika.

    • I am so glad you enjoyed this list, Meena (and that two of your favourite cycle songs were two of my favourites too – I love both those songs a lot). Ae maine kasam li is a big favourite of mine, too – it was just that it was outside my timeline, which was why I had to (with regret) leave it out.

  11. So much nostalgia in this wonderful post, Madhu ! Four of the songs you’ve mentioned here are my childhood favorites and bring memories flooding back.We used to sing these songs on my father’s tours in Andhra Pradesh and at picnics…they are “Saawle salone aaye din bahaar ke”, ” Banke panchhi gaaye pyaar ka taraana:, “Dil mera ek aas ka panchhi” and “Main chali main chali” . The last one was shot at the Krishna Raja Sagar Dam, near the Brindavan Gardens, Mysore 55 years back and how clean and neat most places in India looked at that time !

    • I am glad you enjoyed this post, Pradeep – and thank you for sharing those memories. How wonderful. :-)

      A big thank you for identifying where Main chali main chali was filmed; I’ve always been curious. It didn’t look like any of the cities I know of. Beautiful – so green and clean.

  12. Nice post. I always look forward to your posts because I get to hear some lovely old songs.
    All the bicyle songs that came my mind have already been mentioned here. But then I came across this song.

    Kaise bheege bheege pyare from Apna Ghar

    Here’s a Kannada song
    Baanali Taara from Mareyada Hadu

      • Yes, it seems like a background song – but I think the very fact that he’s cycling through it all, and the cycle is so important a part of the scene, taking him to so many places, so many different people – makes it deserve at least an honorary mention here. Thank you for this one, and for the Apna Ghar song, which was new to me.

  13. Lovely list of songs, Madhuji! If you do find the time, please read a short story of Sudarshan in Hindi called cycle ki savaari. It’s hilarious. https://www.hindisamay.com/content/10294/1/%20%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%A6%E0%A4%B0%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B6%E0%A4%A8-%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%80-%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%B9%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%81-%E0%A4%B8%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%87%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%B2-%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%80-%E0%A4%B8%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B0%E0%A5%80.cspx
    Here is a song that I found where the cycle is used as a prop on stage. It is a lovely duet from the movie Bazar. Ai Mohabbat Unse Milne Ka Bahana

    • This song was new to me – thank you for this! Nice, and unusual (for a moment, I thought: this is the first time I have seen a cycle on stage, but then I remembered that Gope and Yaqub begin Ek din Lahore ki thandi sadak par on a bicycle:

      Thank you, also, for Cycle ki Sawaari. I have bookmarked it and am looking forward to reading it sometime soon.

  14. Since most of my favorite bi-cycle songs have been covered either in the post or in the comments, I’m going to cheat. :-)

    I can’t find the full video of this song, but the minute that is available is delighful.

    Chale bajate seeti jeevan ki rahon mein – Zamana/Anil Biswas/Asha Bhosle – Anil Biswas

    Here’s the full audio of the song.

    And, I’m cheating with the second song, because it’s a bi-cycle pulling a rickshaw song rather than a actual bi-cycle song. But it’s such a sweet song that I can’t resist.

    Chori chori dil ka lagana buri baat hai – Bada Bhai/Nashad/Asha Bhosle – Talat Mahmood

    • You cheat so beautifully, Shalini, that I cannot but applaud your cheating! :-) I had heard Chori-chori dil ka lagaana before, but not Chale bajaate seeti – what a delightful song that is. Thank you so much. I loved it.

  15. A song from an obscure film Hum Nahin Sudhrenge 1980, directed by Asrani and starring himself that too, in a lead triple role!!!

    Sau do sau ki naukri kahan se laau Car – A song that reiterates the bicycle as a poor man’s vehicle.

  16. Some more:
    Is jahan ki nahin hai tumhari ankhen – King Uncle 1993

    Is dharti is khule gagan ka kya kehna – Ganga Tera Pani Amrit 1971
    Here the bicycle also gets a boat ride.

    Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar is a movie focusing on Cycle racing.
    I wanted to add Yahan hum sikandar, but the cycle portion in the song is short.

    • I should have remembered the song from Ganga Tera Paani Amrit, given that I’ve watched the film – but I’d forgotten it, so thanks for reminding me of it. And Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar is of course the quintessential cycle movie. Perfect.

  17. Here are a couple of modern day cycle references for the movies…(not always a song, and not always 100% on the cycle , but interesting nevertheless.

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