Sep 092013

Traveling with Movies- A trip down memory lane with Chitrahaar from Bollywood

I am part of the Doordarshan generation, yes the good old DD, and that too the Black and White one. We had one TV in our extended family, taking the pride of place in the bedroom of one of my uncles.  This was the hallowed room for us, allowed entry only once in a week on Wednesday when the weekly Bollywood dose of Chitrahaar was aired. For the ipod and Youtube generation it will not be out of place to inform what Chitrahaar was.

You see in those days we had on one  TV channel in India called Doordarshan, and that too was available only in some big cities like Delhi, Mumbai etc. and Wednesday used to be a very special day as on this day in evening they used to show movie songs  from Hindi movies.  This was the only source of entertainment for us.

Anyways we used to wait anxiously whole week for Wednesday and Chitrahaar ( literall meaning a garland of images).  While we all loved the songs, we anxiously waited for seeing some of the foreign countries in those songs. Indeed some of my first encounters with travel happened through those songs on Chitrahaar and I wondered can a place be so beautiful? Whenever I saw a song pasteurized in one of the beautiful locations I would tell myself one day I will travel to this beautiful place. Thus began my love for travel to far off places purely for the joy of traveling. Many times I will not even click pictures because I would want to soak the whole experience and keep a memory in my mind and thoughts rather than in an album.

So here are some of my favorite songs that I saw as a child on Doordarshan, most of them were already decades old when I saw them and today most of these songs are more than half a sanctuary old but still the music, the lyrics and above all the locations where they were filmed are still fresh in my mind and I continue to watch them on YouTube every now and then.

7.   Prem Pujari- In Europe: This is one of the first movies where the hero and heroine meet in India and then there love travels to Europe. In this song young Dev Anand the original Chocolaty hero of Indian movies sings in a train about his lady love. You get to see the beautiful European countryside as well as street of beautiful Europe. I am not sure which cities the song was shot but where ever it was I want to go there again and again.

6.  An Evening In Paris: This is the title song of an Evening in Paris, where the effervescent Shammi  Kapoor is singing in the praise of Paris. In every survey year after year Paris is voted as the most romantic place in the world by travelers. Indeed my own brush with Paris was nothing short of falling in love with one of the most beautiful city in the world.

5.  Asman Se Aya Farishta: Long before 007 jumped from Helicopters and took action to a new level our own Shammi Kapoor had shown the way in an Evening in Paris in this song “ Asman Se Aya Farishta”.  In his larger than life image he croons to a bikini clad Sharmila Tagore ( Kareena Kapur Khan Pataudi’s sasoo maa for the gen X readers). It was for the first time that water sports like Jet Skiing was shown in an Indian movie with motorboats and the whole nine yards. It would be many decades before common Indians will get to indulge in water sports in Goa.  Most of these scenes are from south of France, which want me to go there and just soak in the whole experience of French Rivera.

4. DDLJ Mustard Fields of Punjab and Switzerland: No post about beautiful locales in Bollywood movies can be complete without talking about Yash Chopra, the genius film maker. But here I am going to talk about DDLJ, directed by his equally talented son Aditya Chopra. Although this movie came when I had graduated from Chitrahaar to cinema  halls but it needs a mention here for many reasons. Not only DDLJ broke all box office records but made us fall in love again and again not only with Kajol, but also with beautiful Switzerland and Sasron ke khet of Punjab in same breath.  For those who do not know what DDLJ is please! Get a life.  I fell in love with Switzerland when I saw DDLJ for the first time and wowed I will take my wife there for Honeymoon. ( this was many years before I met her). Although the whole movie is a treat for eyes ( and Kajol is not the only reason for that),  my favourite is this song from the movie “ Tujhe Dekh To Yeh Jana Sanam”, which begins in the mustard fields of Punjab where the signature tune of the song is played as Kajol looks for SRK, who appears waving his arms like he does even today as a 50 year old ( as per Deepika Padukone in Chennai  Express).  Only a master craftsman like Aditya could seamlessly take you from Punjab to Switzerland and back in one song with every frame making you wow to visit the beautiful places shown in the movie.

3 . Love In Tokyo:  Millions of Indians can speak at least one word of Japanese – “ Sayonara” basically meaning good bye, all thanks to the eternal song from the movie Love in Tokyo filmed on Asha Parkeh and Joy Mukherjee.  I was totally mesmerised by the beauty of the Japanese gardens and streets, trains shown in the song.  The movie was shot in late 60s and Tokyo looked better in those days than Delhi looks even today. Indeed Japan in general and Tokyo in particular is very high on my wish list to visit with my family. Check these song from the movie Love in Tokyo .

2.  A Himalyan Village: Who can forget Dilip Kumar one of the greatest actors of all time of Indian cinema looking for Vyjanthimala one of the most beautiful women to ever act in movies.  The haunting song was filmed somewhere in Himalayas in a small village, and though black and white you still can see how pristine and beautiful Himalayan countryside can be.  The fog, the silhouettes and a veiled Vyjanthimala along with the haunting song create an atmosphere that I still remember after so many decades and invite me to visit a small Himalayan village with wild Brooks and tall Deodar trees and air fragrant with apple blossoms. God I wish I was there. I wish more so to be there after reading about the devastating floods in Uttarakhand, and wish I could go there and help in some way to the villagers.

1. Kashmir: All the foreign locales are wonderful but if there is one place that I want to go  and have never had the good fortune of visiting in our own Kashmir. The beautiful paradise on Earth (Gar Firdaus Zamin Ast) has been torn apart by conflict, but its beauty remains legendary. Indeed there was a time when no movie was complete without some scenes being shot in Kashmir.  Here is my favourite song filmed on Dal Lake in Kashmir. I will not spoil the suspense by mentioning in here. Check the video and croon with Shammi Kapoor (oops I am sure you had guessed it by now)

So my dear readers these are my favourite places that will make me and my family so happy to visit. I have been to a few of them but they invite me again and again and as a true desi Traveler I will love to visit again and again after all what is life without travel. This is the best way I think I can make my family happy as we will live the memories that we developed as kids when we watched the magic of movies take us to far off lands from Paris to Tokyo and kindled a desire in my heart to travel  to see the world.

Please note all video links are from YouTube and copyright of all owners are fully acknowledged.

I hope you have liked the post, please feel free to share the same with your friends and family.

  16 Responses to “A Trip down the memory lane with Chitrahaar”

Comments (16)
  1. nice one… childhood days..

  2. Those good old days but I preferred Friday Chitrahaar as it aired comparatively latest songs. And what a beautiful and amazing take on the contest prompt. Your post is my favorite from what I have read so far. Truly rocking!

    All the very best!

  3. And the next day in school we’d discuss those songs in earnestness! I miss epic series like Tamas, Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi, Buniyad, Karamchand….Sigh! those were the days.

  4. Thank you desi traveller for this trip to the past- i enjoyed it !

  5. Those are such lovely songs.
    Good old Chitrahaar! Chitrahaar and Bollywood really were (Bollywood still is) a window to beautiful destinations the world over.

    Here’s wishing you many, many more happy travels.

    I really love this post. All the very best for the contest. 🙂

  6. Old Chitrahaar memories relived… 🙂
    Good luck for the contest

  7. Interesting idea… but Bollywood does have cliched ideas about travel destinations, doesn’t it? Travel is certainly something that goes beyond, London, Paris, Tokyo, and Srinagar… our movies do have other locales as well. If you had chosen the travel destinations in movies instead of city names in Hindi songs, you’d have had amuch more varied range of places to choose from.

    Nevertheless, a good idea… a refreshing change.

    All the best!

    Arvind Passey

    • Hi Arvind: Yes Bollywood may be cliched but it was first to open our eyes to world travel. And for a kid like me whose life was limited to School and home and occasional visit to relatives it was a very big deal…. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Quite a nostalgic post Prasad!
    A very unique take on the subject, those are some of the very best movies and songs. Bollywood was the first to open our eyes to the western world, so this is a tribute to them as well!!

  9. Innovative indeed:)

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