Romance wheels roll on - Saptapadi bike still roadworthy, Uttam-Suchitra kin happy

Read more below

By KUSHALI NAG AND SANJOY CHATTOPADHYAYA
  • Published 16.12.08
  •  

Ei poth jodi na shesh hoy (What if the road does not end) sang Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen on a motorcycle down a meandering road in Saptapadi.

Five decades after the film was made, and three decades after Uttam died and Suchitra became a recluse, the only one around to answer the question ‘tobey kemon hoto tumi bolo to’ (tell me how that would be) is the bike on which Tollywood’s first couple gave lip (and lipstick) to the love song.

For, the BMW that was born in 1960 and starred in Saptapadi in 1961 is still roadworthy.

The two-wheeler may have been static in the studio shot for the Saptapadi romantic ride — yes, only the locations were moving, and Uttam’s tie and Suchitra’s hair were flying — but today it can be seen cruising on Southern Avenue.

The 490CC Horse Power wheels that changed hands from a German tourist to a certain Tarapada Saha now finds pride of place in Ashish Kumar Ray’s garage, near Menoka cinema.

“We bought the bike from Saha in 1979 for Rs 40,000. It’s a BMW R50, a rare model. I guess it’s the only such BMW bike in Calcutta and it’s present valuation would be around Rs 10-12 lakh,” said Ray’s nephew Arijit, who revels in riding it on weekends. “It’s neighbour’s envy owner’s pride,” he smiled, seated on the Saptapadi bike.

The man tending to this rare piece of machinery for decades is Poltu Sen of Mrs Hari Sen and Sons Garage, off Rashbehari Avenue. “Saha would come to our garage for the servicing of the BMW. He said he rode the bike posing as Uttam Kumar’s dummy in some long shots for Saptapadi…. It’s a very attractive bike with superior features and a left-side kick. It’s a two-seater but slightly longer than other bikes. It has a mileage of 25-30 kilometres per litre. It’s really special,” said Poltu, with almost paternal pride.

Familial pride of a different kind shone through when Metro told Suchitra Sen’s daughter and Uttam Kumar’s grandson about the rediscovery of the Saptapadi bike. “I am glad it has been found. The song they sang on the bike is the most romantic in the history of Bengali cinema,” said Moon Moon Sen. “Great news! I would love to go and see the bike,” said Gourab Chatterjee, who voted the Hemanta Mukhopadhyay-Sandhya Mukherjee number and the bike sequence “the most romantic ever”.

There are however doubts whether Uttam and Suchitra actually took the joyride. “I have heard Dadu (Uttam) never sat on the bike,” was Gourab’s rider. “The close-up shots were taken indoors by director Ajoy Kar, where they were sitting on something else. The long shots had the actual bike and someone else (could be Tarapada Saha) rode it.”

But for Tollywood devotees, the bike is as vital to the Saptapadi road song as Uttam and Suchitra. And it is yet to reach the end of the road.

(kushali.nag@abp.in)