Rishi Kapoor & the Bobby Bike
Several eulogies and beautiful tributes have followed the sad, and premature, passing of Rishi Kapoor. As well as his redoubtable contribution to Indian cinema, one must also remember his involvement, probably involuntarily, in the first most famous case of product placement in Indian cinema, the Rajdoot 175 GTS, better known as the Bobby bike. 
 
Even though interesting and exciting automobiles always figured in many of the Bollywood films, the automobile did not play an important enough role until the blockbuster Bobby arrived in 1973. Produced and directed by Raj Kapoor, Bobby’s story line was hardly any different from that of scores of other Indian popular movies which had preceded it. Once again, a love story between a boy, Raj, the son of a rich man, and Bobby, a young girl from a poor family, with the two fighting against all odds to make their love possible, despite the social differences. What made the movie special was the way the story was treated, the freshness of the two protagonists, and the amusing little motorcycle that Raj used, the yet-to-be-launched Rajdoot GTS 175. 
 
 

The story is about how the 18-year-old Raj Nath (Rishi Kapoor in his very first role), son of the rich industrialist Mr Nath, falls in love with 16-year-old Bobby (Dimple Kapadia, in also her first role). She is the granddaughter of his former housekeeper and educator, and the daughter of a poor Goan fisherman, Jack Braganza. When Raj is visiting his old housekeeper, he sees Bobby for the first time, and, it is love at first sight. Raj though realises that his temperamental father will not easily accept the relationship with the daughter of a poor fisherman. Of course, all is eventually well, as Raj’s father admits his mistakes, and takes in Bobby as a daughter-in-law.
 
Movie-goers in India took to the refreshing charm and demeanour of the baby-faced Rishi Kapoor and the sheer gorgeousness of Dimple Kapadia, as well as the symbolism of the cute and accessible motorcycle which transported the two to their trysts for all the song-and-dance sequences. Reflecting an optimistic, young teenage sense of romance and adventure, the Rajdoot GTS 175 became synonymous with the movie, and has since been referred to as the 'Bobby bike', a moniker which stuck on, even if that was not the official one.
 
 
The success of the Rajdoot 'Bobby' GTS 175 though, was short-lived, unlike the movie, which was rated by Indiatimes Movies as the “Top 25 Must See Bollywood Films.” Not only was Bobby one of the top-20 grossers in the realm of Bollywood, it was an astounding success in the Soviet Union, where more than 62 million saw the film.
 
The use of the film Bobby to promote Rajdoot’s new motorcycle, the GTS 175, was not coincidental. The movie-maker Raj Kapoor’s elder daughter Ritu Kapoor was married to Rajan Nanda, the son of the founder of Escorts Limited, H P Nanda. The Rajdoot GTS 175 was an Escorts product. In fact, this was perhaps one of the first cases of a product placement in an Indian movie.
 
 
As a product placement, it worked brilliantly – in a matter of months everyone across the country knew of the Bobby bike. In theory, the market placement and planning of the product was very intelligent too. The mainstay of Escorts Limited until then had been the workhorse Rajdoot 175 bike, popular in rural India with farmers, milkmen and small traders. With a factory set-up in 1962, Escorts had turned to Polish motorcycle manufacturer KZWM Polmo-SHL, which was, at that point of time, manufacturing the model M11, for technical collaboration.
 
The SHL M11 was unusual in featuring an Earles fork front suspension, a swing-arm with two telescopic shock absorbers with hydraulic damping, which contributed to the excellent ride quality of the Rajdoots, reason enough why rural India, with its terrible road conditions, took to the motorcycle from Escorts. Even as the Rajdoot 175 became one of India’s better selling motorcycles, it was the scooter segment, which was setting the sales charts afire. Escorts decided to develop a scooter using the same engine and gearbox as in the motorcycle. The buying customer did not take to the Rajdoot Rajhans scooter. Escorts found itself with a lot of unsold scooters, unsold scooter parts, as well as tanks from the as-unsuccessful Rajdoot Ranger motorcycle derivative of the classic 175.
 
The boffins at Escorts were smart enough to come with a product— no doubt inspired by the Honda Monkey bike series of small-wheeled motorcycles launched by the Japanese giant in the late 1960s – which combined the bits and pieces of the leftover parts. The new little machine had its engine, transmission and suspension from the full-size Rajdoot 175, the wheels from the scooter, and the tank from the Rajdoot Ranger, all combined to give the product a cheeky, funky look, made even prettier with Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia astride the one in Bobby.       
 
But then, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. After the initial excitement and success of the Bobby bike, sales plateaued, and then dropped off altogether. Escorts struggled on with the GTS until 1984, when the last Bobby bike rolled off the assembly line. Most of the Bobby bikes were junked – just a handful have been saved by motorcycling enthusiasts, such as the one on these pages, owned and restored by Lokesh Lakshmipathy.
 
(Author of several automotive books, founder editor of many leading auto mags, Gautam Sen has also consulted with most of the Indian auto majors. He has also worked with several leading car designers such as Gérard Godfroy, Tom Tjaarda and Marcello Gandini, among others)
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    COMMENTS

    sathyandavid

    2 months ago

    Hey Gautam - great article on one of our schooldays movies! All of us in the class were quite smitten with Dimple and desired a Bobby Bike with Bobby in the pillion! The non success of the 'Bobby Bike' is generally attributed to the small wheels. Remember our roads in those days? Only now you've enlightened me to the fact that the Bike was a hybrid of other unsuccessful bike models. That design thinking itself was a recipe for disaster. Anyway those were the days of extreme frugality and one can understand the pain of the Nandas when they found large stocks of unused bike components. Junking stuff was taboo!

    ganesanjaicare

    2 months ago

    bobby movie is blockbuster hit throughout the country beyond language culture .even today the song hum tum can be enjoyed.huge success.bobby and sholay.nobody even today can forget kabbar singh.those days actors and actress show involvement in their role.

    The Rishi Kapoor you didn't know
    Open, frank and unfiltered are some of the words used describe Rishi Kapoors life, but there are some aspects of his life which might have evaded public eye.
     
    A day after he was hospitalised here, Rishi Kapoor is no more. He passed away on Thursday after a two-year battle with leukemia. He was 67.
     
    IANS brings you some trivia from the multifaceted life that he led.
     
    * Rishi Kapoor's love for food, especially non-vegetarian food, is not something that the world doesn't know about. But there was a place he had to turn vegetarian, and that was when he visited Chennai because he was coming after a darshan at Tirupati.
     
    * Rishi Kapoor had a thing for 'agarbatti', and used to carry a packs wherever he went. His favourite fragrance was Nag Champa.
     
    * The world lovingly calls him Chintu ji, and in 2009 he even starred in a film by that name. But he hated his nickname, and once took to Twitter to share his old picture and expressed his views on nicknames, saying "parents must never nickname a child".
     
    * There are several reports suggesting that he used sweaters to look hot.
     
    * He did two international movies --- "Don't Stop Dreaming" in 2007 and "Sambar Salsa" in 2008.
     
    * He struggled with depression at one point of his career due to back to back failures.
     
    * His songs are evergreen, and still loved by one and all. But Rishi personally never liked many of his songs.
     
    * He admitted that there was a time when he was a male chauvinist.
     
    * He always admitted to his flaws. The actor once confessed buying a film award.
     
    * In his book "Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored", he claimed his father Raj Kapoor was involved with other women even while he was married to Krishna Raj Kapoor.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    Jaipur man Irrfan had craving to act right from his childhood
    Irrfan Khan, the versatile bollywood actor who passed away on Wednesday was born and brought up in Jaipur.
     
    Since his childhood, he had a craving for acting. However, due to unavailability of right platform in the pink city in those days, he started engaging himself in street plays.
     
    According to him, street plays were very different in those days. "I was asked to act on a filmy scene or a song where I had to mimic the actor. There was no seriousness in the plays in those days."
     
    Meanwhile, as he grew up, he felt a strong penchant to act and hence he went to Ravindra Manch office which is more like the artist junction in Jaipur, and is devoted to training of actors for stage, film and television.
     
    Unaware of the whereabouts, his eagerness took him to a clerk's office where he humbly requested for acting work.
     
    "This clerk laughed and then guided me to meet the director. Following his instructions, I went to the director and thereafter, I was introduced to the world of theatre. Thereafter, I had no looking back," he had said.
     
    Irrfan loved Jaipur from the bottom of his heart. Although he has travelled across the globe, Jaipur remained his favourite destination. "Each and every lane here in this city narrates a royal tale of its own. The rich legacy seen here is hard to be found in any other part of the world. Hence, the majestic & magnanimous Jaipur is yet another enigma, another wonder of the world," he had said in a meeting with this IANS journalist.
     
    Irrfan also loved art, culture, history and heritage of India. At the same time, he was disheartened to see the global culture slowly yet steadily replacing the in-depth heritage and cultural soul of India.
     
    As an ardent fan of the Indian culture, he said, he is making all efforts on his own to help retain this pristine culture. He became a brand ambassador of Resurgent Rajasthan and started promoting the state to national and international level.
     
    As he started his career from theatre, he was eager to ensure progress and development of theatre culture in India. He was equally concerned about Indian art and culture and had therefore started an NGO, Sannidhya which aimed at restoring the pristine art and culture of India which he felt was losing its sheen with the changing times.
     
    "Changing time is leading to disappearance of age-old heritage of our country which is a big concern for me. I want to revive the ancient roots of Hindustan," he had said during his visit to Jaipur in 2016.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    User 

    COMMENTS

    m.prabhu.shankar

    2 months ago

    Excellent. Great Actor.

    i_sakarwala

    2 months ago

    Rest in peace irfaan ...........the show must go on!

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