Starring Mehmood, Amitabh Bachchan, Aruna Irani, Anwar Ali, Shatrughan Sinha

A bus full of comic characters, from the driver to the conductor, and the passengers of course, makes this journey from Bombay to Goa an experience to cherish. There is adventure and humour, some peppy songs too, as director S. Ramanathan takes you on a thrilling ride that opens with a woman witnessing a murder and culminates with the law catching up with the culprits but not before a rib-tickling bus journey.

Mehmood and brother Anwar Ali are the principal players in this comedy that gave Amitabh Bachchan his first big break as hero of a movie. Bachchan was recommended for the role by Mehmood, who had a soft corner for new and struggling actors. Bachchan was trying to find his space in the industry when Mehmood’s kind act helped him propel his career. Many years later Bachchan acknowledged Mehmood’s gesture.

Bachchan has Aruna Irani as the opposite number with Shatrughan Sinha in a negative role but it is Mehmood who carries the show as Rajesh, the garrulous bus conductor. Anwar plays Khanna the driver. They are self-confessed fans of Rajesh Khanna, the star of that period, and the pair of Mehmood and Anwar manages to create some funny situations.

This may not belong to the genre of classic comedies like “Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi”, “Padosan”, “Chupke Chupke”, “Golmaal”, “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro” or “Chashme Buddoor” but there is something about “Bombay To Goa”.

Even after four decades of its release, the movie continues to evoke appreciation as a collection of character artistes contribute to engage your unstinted attention.

Mukri, Sunder, Asit Sen, Keshto, Oscar, Manorama, Mehmood (Jr), Lalita Pawar make small but impactful appearances as the bus rolls on, its occupants hailing from different backgrounds triggering some hilarious moments.

Keshto does not utter a word; Sen hardly; but Mukri and Mehmood are in roaring form when together.

Mukri, in the role of a South Indian, wins your heart with a superb performance; Manorama, her eyes speaking for her, and Lalita Pawar as Kashi Bai, keep the momentum going as the movie picks up pace in the latter half.

Aruna Irani is Mala, aspiring to be a movie star, and Sinha, as Verma, lures her into defying her parents. She runs away from home only to land in trouble by witnessing Verma committing a murder. Her escape lands her in the bus with Goa as destination.

Ravi Kumar (Bachchan) joins her on the bus and eventually overpowers the murderer with the help of fellow passengers.

Humour, not always classy, is at the heart of this movie.

Kishore Kumar plays himself and joins the bus journey for a while. There is typical Mehmood slap-stick when the conductor calls a passenger “O, technicolour”, or tickle another humming artist as “takle Tansen’. Mehmood was known to sometimes indulge in such bizarre comedy. But then he could get away with it too, like when Rajesh addresses Khanna as “driver kahin ka” the latter responds “conductor kahin ka.”

Not really appealing but then there are other moments that stand out. The best being Mukri’s son demanding pakodas at the sight of a fellow passenger enjoying some. The entire sequence and the subsequent one when he eyes fresh pakodas at a roadside eatery leave you in splits with the thumb-sucking youngster stealing the scene.

The best moments of the movie happen inside the bus and surrounding the passengers.

You can watch, for a pleasant change, Bachchan jumping around in the bus, pulling off acrobatic acts when singing ‘Dekha na hai re socha na’ and then performing a typical running around the trees duet ‘Dil tera hai’ with a petite Irani.

The movie may not have been a huge hit but it did inspire many to go on a Bombay to Goa bus ride, hoping to relive some of the filmy anecdotes in their own way.