However much we might like to listen to fast beats and loud music on million-watt speakers inside our cars, when it comes to long distance road trips, the vote goes to soothing music with meaningful lyrics that calm the nerves and enhances the joy of driving. Ask commercial drivers. They invariably turn to old film songs – whether Hindi or other regional languages, depending upon which part of the country you are in. Talking of long road trips and film music in the same breath brought to mind Scout My Trip and I thought, ‘why not make a post featuring some old Hindi road trip songs?’
I have picked some of my favourite Hindi road trip songs from the 1940s to the late 80s, which were super hits in their time (even the oldest song in the list). My criteria were that the song should feature road trips and the actors should be on wheels.
In recent years there have been many road trip movies and songs and I found many playlists on YouTube that featured these. I decided to skip these because they are all fresh in everyone’s memories.
I am sure all the songs compiled by me will grow on you and make you hum along or tap your feet if you were to listen to them even a couple of times. And oh! I would advise you to suspend your disbelief which watching some of them, as the picturization can be completely absurd as to be hilarious. But I guess those of my generation loved the songs too much to notice all that! ? I am sure the songs will grow on you and make you hum along or tap your feet if you were to listen to them even a couple of times.
On to the road trip songs and the wheels (the actors) that make it possible! You can also download this playlist here
When you’re riding a Motorbike
I am told that motorbikes are a wonderful way to see the country and experience the local culture while communing with Nature. So, shall we start with the great mobike-with-sidecar song of Jai-Veeru, as they travel to Gabbar-land in the super-duper hit film Sholay? Be sure not to do all the stunts that this crazy duo does – and all without helmets (hmmmph…) or you wouldn’t know where you are going!
Anyway, it had been a smashing hit of the 70s and continues to thrill listeners till date. Music is by the inimitable R.D.Burman and I would rate it right on top amongst all the Hindi road trip songs when on a motorbike!
The Hindi road trip song you must play when on a Bullock-cart
Till late into the 20th century, bullock-carts were used for long-distance travels. It can be a little hard on the back, especially for city folk used to cushiest shock-absorbers, but the tinkling bells of the bullocks, the gentle swaying of the cart in rhythm with their movement, and the rolling rustic landscape can make it a memorable ride. I have travelled in one in the 70s, albeit for a short distance. It was an enjoyable ride, partly because it was a novel experience for me.
Just listen to this lilting song, with its wonderful lyrics and melody uncluttered by loud orchestration. The bells of the bullocks and wheels turning are the only palpable sounds adding to the rustic charm of the tune, even as the voice of Manna Dey soothes and calms the nerves so it makes it to the Hindi road trip songs list one must play if they ever find themselves on a bullock cart!
If this is the first time you are listening to this one, I guarantee that it won’t be the last or the only time. Music is by the great music director Vasant Desai.
What you must play when on a fast paced bullock-cart
This is another of the bullock-cart songs that must find a place in this post. It has a whole caravan of bullock-carts, not just a lone one. It is in stark contrast to the above song in terms of beats, pace, and tone. I love this rollicking number from Caravan featuring the Jumping Jack Jeetendra and Aruna Irani – for its sheer exuberance. The foot-tapping music by R.D.Burman makes it worth saving for a long ride.
To keep you going when you’re on a Bicycle road trip
Movies of the 50s and 60s and even 70s had some great bicycle songs. Shubha Khote, (the Principal in the sitcom Zaban Sambhalke, remember her?) was a champion cyclist and so movies featuring her during her early years had at least one mandatory cycling sequence. Listen to this ebullient song from Anari featuring Raj Kapoor and Nutan and of course Shubha Khote. Tell me, wouldn’t this be a lovely song to play on your next road trip? Or maybe even sing? Music is by the great music director duo Shankar-Jaikishan.
When road tripping in a Car
There is one rule where four-wheelers in old Hindi movies are concerned – when the men drive alone, it is almost always in a jeep – it is open and rugged. And mind you, these were not your ordinary Mahindra jeeps used by the police, but swanky imported ones. When there is a girl in the scene, then it had to be a car – imported, of course, with roll-down top. If the movie is sufficiently old (B/W), and the singers are inside the car, then you can be sure that it would be stationary, with the scenery behind it moving. The actors would be bouncing in their seats to simulate the movements of a running car! But the song would be so beautiful that all these silly details never bothered us.
This song from the 70s movie Safar has one such imported car (open of course), with Feroze Khan and Sharmila Tagore going on a long drive along winding mountain roads. Music is by Kalyanji-Anandji.
When you decide to go #AageSeRight on a Tonga / Ghoda-Gadi
There were not many cars on Indian roads till the last quarter of the 20th century, and so other means of transport were widely used in movies. For instance, there were ghoda-gadis and songs to go along. In fact, several ghoda-gadi songs became superhits mainly due to the clop-clop beats of the horses’ hooves. I could post a dozen of them off-hand, but I am trying to post only those that look like long-distance rides. And that gave me the chance to post a B/W song of my favourite singer, Talat Mahmood!
It was a great hit of the time and many of you might have heard it too. Music is by Salil Chaudhary and the movie is Ek Gaon ki Kahani. In keeping with the title, the tonga meanders through the rustic landscape as the protagonist goes to the village where he has been appointed the doctor. (I know because I watched this silly movie for all the lovely songs in it).
When you start in a car but end up in a bullock-cart
All those who go on road trips, do get your car serviced properly, else you might end up like this gentleman! He was lucky enough to find a bail-gadi to tow him through the jungle paths!
It might be hard for you to believe, but I love this song! I had not seen the video when I had heard the song first and for many years after that. But seeing the video only made me smile indulgently at the picturization and it didn’t take away my love for the song one bit. (I did manage to sneak in one of the old, old songs, he he he ?)
The song is from the 1948 movie Anokhi Ada. The heroine is Saira Banu’s mother Naseem Banu and the hero is Surendra. Music is by the great Naushad.
When on Roller-skates (?)
Why not? I told you I would be tweaking this post, didn’t I? And roller-skates have wheels, don’t they? So what if they are worn by the singers who are falling, picking themselves up and having a whale of a time on their roller-skates? The superhit song is from Seeta aur Geeta and once again the music director is R.D.Burman.
Hindi road trip song when on a 3-wheeler contraption
This is a completely crazy contraption driven by the then famous jodi of Jai and Veeru rechristened as Ram-Balram for the movie by the same name. It goes through giant water pipes and even rides on a ferry! As I said, leave behind your credulity as you watch this one. There is a scene where the couple lifts the car and walk, and you can see it is just a shell – no driving wheel or seats inside it! In the next scene, they are all back as they begin driving again!
The music directors are Lakshmikant-Pyarelal, another hit jodi from that time.
When you’re living it up in a Jeep
This one bears out my observation that when male actors drove alone, they did so in a jeep. In this one from Jhuk Gaya Aasman, a jeep-bound Rajendra Kumar is serenading a – hold your breath – a plane-bound Saira Banu. Incredibly she is able to see (and hear?) him as the car races with the plane. I guess you’d argue that it was way back when probably plane flew at lower altitudes and even moved slower than now ?
The superhit music was provided by Shankar-Jaikishan.
When you’re in a beat up station wagon
Beat up vehicle drives can be long and tedious, but we have many songs featuring trucks which are quite lively. This one from Tezaab, Madhuri Dixit’s debut film, is a favourite for its soothing and melodious tune. The group of friends (?) are having a harmonious night ride. The whistling adds to the charm of the song. The music is composed by Lakshmikant-Pyarelal.
If you’re ever in a Truck (Hopefully not getting kidnapped)
This one is by that legendary lonely trucker and obviously having it tough, driving alone for long periods on lonely stretches. Even the picturesque locales of mountains and valleys apparently are not able to enthuse him and he is forced to find solace in memories. Sanjeev Kumar is the lonely trucker in this song from Namkeen.
Hindi road trip song you must play when on a Bus
I guess I have to feature a bus song and what can be better than this one from Bombay to Goa? Long distance bus travel can be tedious or enjoyable depending upon the company one finds on the trip. This bus-load of passengers is clearly having a great time, singing to the beats of R.D.Burman’s music. Wonder how Amitabh Bachhan finds the headspace to frolic around though!
Finally, I want to share a Johny Walker song, which means it necessarily has to be a comedy song and a superhit to boot. God forbid that you have to face all the car troubles these blokes face with theirs! Go road-tripping with friends, just in case!
And with this, I have added another 50s B/W song!! This one is from Taxi Driver and has music by S.D. Burman.
Hope you enjoy all my favourite Hindi travel songs, give or take a couple. Try to guess the locales of the songs, and don’t cheat by reading up on them, ok? You could also check out this post about road trip rock songs , but only after you leave a comment on this blog post!
Do share your favorite Hindi road trip songs featuring roads and riding/driving in the comments, won’t you?
About the author
Zephyr is an award winning and renowned blogger who has also been featured on Labnol’s list of the best Indian bloggers. A full-time grandmom, author and a prolific blogger; Zephyr is also an avid traveler with a special penchant for religious road trips in India. This is the second post she has contributed to our blog, the first one being about our co-founder Vineet’s road trip journey through the years!