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Mumbai’s Middle Class is represented by the state’s most Iconic Vehicle BEST Bus since many Decades

BEST bus. Wikimedia
  • The BEST bus represents the mobility plans for middle classes in Mumbai
  • It is not just the locals but for migrants to Mumbai, the BEST bus is an icon
  • Represented in movies, people have been using these vehicles for commute since decades

Mumbai, August 09, 2017: Mumbai’s most iconic vehicle since the past many decades has been the double-decker bus. The BEST bus is by the Bombay Electric Supply and Transport Company. The B was changed to Brihanmumbai in the year 1995.

When artist Sudarshan Shetty was just a schoolboy, he would often tell people his experience of sitting in the upper level of his “red Cadillac”, the red double decker bus.

In the 1950s, author Kiran Nagarkar rode the BEST bus when it had lettered routes in the form of A, B, and C. Today, BEST bus and routes use the number system. Nagarkar said that the double-deckers were “marvelous, especially if you had a girlfriend.”

While today Metros rule the urban city, it is the BEST bus that has represented Mumbai’s romance as well as struggle. In the movie ‘Choti Si Baat’ by Basu Chatterjee, it was in the double-decker where Vidya Sinha was wooed by Amol Palekar.

Palekar made his mark on Bollywood fraternity in the 1970s, the period when mega families were ruling the screens. He once stated, “Until Rajnigandha, a Hindi film hero was someone who had never traveled by local transport and never worked in an office.” The BEST bus, however, changed this common script.

The BEST bus was spotted in the song Jaanu Mere Jaan ki Shaan (1980) by an American blogger studying the patterns of Indian Cinema, Beth Watkins. She observes, “Putting a song in literal motion is a fun strategy. The women on the bus have some power as the audience for the men’s song because they’re sitting on the upper level. The bus isn’t moving any faster than the men’s bicycle, and by the end, the heroes take control of the bus and, thus, the romantic pursuit.”

Further, the bus has been iconically showcased in movies such as Ardh Satya (1983), Muqaddar Ka Sikander (1978) and more recently Ghajini (2008) and OK Kanmani (2015).

The BEST bus also helped in moving away from regional differences. Migrants to Mumbai felt closest to the city when they rode in the “red Cadillacs”. The bus conveyed that everyone is in it together. In Ravan and Eddie, a class novel by Nagarkar here is an extract from the opening chapter, “Parvati’s son bounced excitedly in her arms. Yes yes yes, he wanted to play with Victor, see the dog scratch himself, watch the game of kabaddi, get on to a double-decker bus and sit at the very front with the wind in his eyes and hair. He stretched out his arms and leaped.”

ALSO READ: Hand Pulled Rickshaw and Trams: Old modes of public transport in Kolkata are keeping the Heritage alive

The bus leveled people from all walks of life. It also assured the immigrants that dreams are turned into reality in the city of Mumbai. Everyone here gets the opportunity. Students & teachers, leftists, and rightists, boss and subordinate, everybody rode together.

The executive chairman of the ICICI Bank, M K Sharma, often takes the red bus even today. He says, “It connects me with the common man, and has offered me invaluable insights. It starts the conversation.”

The BEST bus reminds Rustam Antia, an electrical consultant now aged 64, of his school days.  “The school had commissioned BEST to run as school buses for us, and it was the only place where both boys and girls, who then attended separate buildings, mingled.”

The famous actor of the country, Mithun Chakraborty, also rode in BEST buses, more particularly the number 85 to Dadar station. Veteran Om Puri and the classic Naseeruddin Shah also rode in the red buses during their struggling years as an actor.

Interestingly, Om Puri was shocked to see that BEST conductors stood all day. In Delhi, the conductors always took to a specific seat.

ALSO READ: Indian Railways Are No More Popular Mode of Transport in India

Sunil Dutt was employed in BEST’s supply department and worked as a “shop recorder” while Badruddin Jamaluddin Kazi, comedian stage name being Johnny Walker, amused passengers by working as a conductor. Here is Walker expressing his memories in the BEST newsletter Varta, “I remember well, I began my work at the Dadar depot in 1942. In the beginning, my badge number was 16. It would change to 1266. My first salary was Rs 40. But expenses were not so high, so we lived a good life on this…. There was admirable discipline in BEST. Whether our uniforms were up to the mark or not, would be checked…”

While writing the script of the famous movie Baazi (1951), Balraj Sahni, he commuted with BEST bus to the film shoots.

For all these years of service, the discipline of the staff has always been consistent. The drivers and conductors are trained at the Dindoshi Centre. Not drinking and doing duty, chewing paan, body odor and torn buttons are pointed out to reform. It also includes responding effectively to a complaint of harassment by women. However, the well-lit interior of the bus ensures women safety to a great extent.

The BEST double decker. Wikimedia

There are ladies first buses where women get the priority of boarding. There is a total of 500 routes covered by 3,800 buses and served by 41,000 staff members.

The buses with an open roof on the upper deck have been spotted in various parades. In the parade that celebrated P V Sindhu’s 2016 Olympic medal and the public party after winning 2007 T20 World Cup, the BEST open upper deck buses were a charm.

But the BEST buses have had their sorrows. As a representative of the middle class, these vehicles have suffered. They have been burnt and received beatings from stones during protests and social movements. Even in terror attacks, the buses have faced the brunt.

But BEST, as of today, is dismantling. The bad coaches and miscalculated finances clearly imply that. Nagarkar rightly points out that, “It takes a special kind of insanity to invest in a coastal road which will be used by less than 2.5 per cent of the population while refusing to invest in the transport used by the 95 per cent, the rest of us. Why should it die?”

BEST has a budget deficit of Rs. 590 crores. Buses are being sold and the routes are being reduced. In February, BEST failed to pay salaries to its employees. The Electricity Act that came out in 2003 snatches the company’s electrical arm for working, a post which the conditions deteriorated. None of the routes are profitable.

Moreover, the new cab services with mobile applications have worsened the chances of a possible comeback by BEST. Also, the BMC does not subsidize BEST.

It would be right to say that BEST is fighting for its survival.

“Almost the entire population depends on the local trains that are run by the Central government. The only rightful public transport that Mumbai can call its own is the BEST buses. They are there when the trains are down, in a crisis or (during) festivals. They run at their own pace and are not always efficient, but they are always there. BEST will continue to remain the city’s own and rightful public transport, till the Metro network run by the state government comes into place,” said Transport Historian and Author Rajendra Aklekar.

But the majority says that it is BEST that has to adapt and change. The Anik Depot’s BEST Museum rarely has any visitors on a given day.

Sudhir Badami, an Urban Analyst, strongly believes that the BEST buses can bounce back and be profitable. “If they are allowed to have a dedicated bus lane, that could help them deliver faster services. The BEST could also try to introduce a ₹25 ticket for 24 hours that could be used across the board and generate estimated revenue of ₹2,250 crore per annum and be close to breaking even at today’s traffic of 28 lakh passengers per day.”

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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Asia Cup : India Emerge Champions for third time, Beat Malaysia in Asia Cup Hockey Championship

India emerged victorious for the third time

asia cup
(representational Image) India vs Malaysia Hockey Match wikimedia

Dhaka, October 22, 2017 : India overcame Malaysia 2-1 in the final on Sunday to win the Asia Cup hockey championship for the third time.

Ramandeep Singh (3rd minute) and Lalit Upadhyay (29th) scored for India. Shahril Saabah (50th minute) scored the reducer for Malaysia. (IANS)

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7 Bollywood Actresses Who Rejected Roles Opposite the Superstar Khans

Aishwarya Rai
Aishwarya Rai turned down the offer to work with Aamir Khan. Wikimedia

The Khans of Bollywood Industry, Aamir Khan, Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan are the three superstars of Hindi cinema with whom every actress dreams of working with. On the contrary, various Bollywood females denied sharing screen space with them. We bring to your notice the actresses who turned down the roles opposite these Khans.

Aishwarya Rai

Aishwarya Rai turned down the offer to work with Aamir Khan. Wikimedia.

Aishwarya was supposed to play the role of rich and sensitive Aarti Saigal in the movie,’Raja Hindustani’. She had turned down the offer because of less interest to make a career in films as she was busy with her studies and modeling assignments at that point of time. Starring the Perfectionist Aamir Khan as the leading character of a taxi driver and tourist guide, ‘Raja Hindustani’ became the Bollywood blockbuster film of 1996 in India.

It came into light that Juhi Chawla also dejected the offer due to personal issues with Aamir Khan. It was also reported later that Pooja Bhatt was almost ready to work on the film, but on Aamir Khan’s request to director Dharmesh Darshan the decision was changed.

Juhi Chawla

Juhi Chawla. Wikimedia

Juhi Chawla and many other leading Bollywood actresses of the 90s also did not accept the role of Nisha opposite Shah Rukh Khan in the blockbuster film ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ (1997). The desired role was offered to Manisha Koirala and then to Juhi Chawla, Raveena Tandon, Shilpa Shetty, Urmila Matondkar and Kajol before Karisma Kapoor gave her approval.

Twinkle Khanna

Twinkle Khanna denied to bag the role of Tina in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Wikimedia.

Karan Johar wanted his best friend, Twinkle Khanna to work on his dream Bollywood  directorial debut for the role of Tina. But Twinkle turned down the offer for unknown reasons.

In fact, after getting unfavorable response from his best friend, Karan reached these actresses: Raveena Tandon, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Tabu, Urmila Matondkar and Karisma Kapoor for the same role, but to no avail. Finally, Rani Mukherjee was bagged in for the role of Tina changing her fortune forever.

Shilpa Shetty

Shilpa Shetty denied the role opposite the khans

Shilpa Shetty made her acting debut opposite Shah Rukh Khan in the booming crime thriller ‘Baazigar’ in 1993. She was the first choice of the director duo Abbas-Mustan to play the leading female in the movie ‘Baadshah’ (1999). She kept delaying the film and lastly dejected to work on it.

Kareena Kapoor

Kareena Kapoor turned down the offer to work with Shahrukh Khan. Wikimedia.

Karan Johar desired to produce ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ with Kareena Kapoor under his production banner Dharma Productions. He had directed her in ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham’ (2001). When Karan approached Kareena for the film, she quoted an incremented fee as her remuneration equivalent to Shahrukh Khan’s. Karan refused to fulfill her demand and instead signed Preity Zinta. Both Karan and Kareena had a major fight after this incident.

Priyanka Chopra

priyanka chopra made it to the hollywood even after rejecting to work with khans. Pixabay.

Psychological thriller ‘Ghajini’ (2008) is a film which no Bollywoood film enthusiast can forget. The film showcased the 6 packs as history and introduced Indian youth to 8 packs abs. The makers wanted to bag in Priyanka Chopra in the Hindi remake, but she refused to sign the film as she was not very convinced of her role in it. Aamir was impressed by Asin’s performance in the Tamil version and on his request the actress was chose to work on the the Hindi version also.


Kajol rejected tork with the Khans. Wikimedia.

Believe it or not, it’s true that this Bollywood film ‘3 Idiots’ saw rejection by the very charming and talented Kajol. The actress was the initial choice of filmmakers to play the protaganist female in the film. But unfortunately, she turned down the offer. The role then went to Kareena Kapoor who herself approached Rajkumar Hirani for the character of Pia. She undoubtedly managed to show out her performance amidst the presence of actors like Aamir Khan, R. Madhvan and Sharman Joshi.

-Prepared By Bhavana Rathi. Twitter @tweet_bhavana

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Shahid Kapoor Applauses Brother Ishaan for Bollywood Debut

By sharing a sweet picture with younger brother Ishaan, Shahid Kapoor took to Instagram for confirming the former's bollywood debut produced by Zee Studios

Shahid Kapoor
Shahid Kapoor and his brother Ishaan Khattar. Instagram

New Delhi, October 14: Shahid Kapoor’s younger brother Ishaan Khattar is all set for his Bollywood debut with ‘Beyond the Clouds’ and Shahid is very excited about his brother’s upcoming and wished him good luck on Twitter.

The ‘Haider’ star took to Instagram and wished his brother by sharing a sweet picture of himself with Ishaan along with the caption,“How time flies. In 4 hours a new star is born. May you fly #beyondtheclouds Ishaan. Proud of you.”

Shahid Kapoor
Shahid Kapoor posted his wishes for brother Ishaan on Instagram.

Ishaan is making his acting debut with Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi’s next, which is said to be a story revolving around a brother-sister relationship. The shooting of the film, which was initially titled ‘Floating Gardens’ and has now been allegedly changed to ‘Beyond The Clouds’, starts in South Mumbai today. Interestingly, this is the same Majid Majidi project for which Deepika Padukone had done a look test.

The film has already premiered at the British Film Institute London Film Festival in the competition category.

Produced by Zee Studios along with Shareen Mantri Kedia and Kishor Arora, ‘Beyond The Clouds’ is a story based on relationships focused on human values.

-by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram.  She can be reached @tweet_bhavana