Bollywood Lambrettas, or is it Pakistan?

Although the title of this video on YouTube reads ‘Bollywood Goes Lambretta’, with my scooter anorak hood pulled fully up, I suspect this film was shot in Pakistan and not India.

Why’s that? Well in India, API first got the licence to produce Lambrettas in the late 1950s. To start with they assembled knock-down kits sent from Italy of LD models. As their experience grew so the Italians trusted them to produce and source more and more parts locally. However API never got beyond the Series 2 model of Lambretta Li, presumably the Indian market quite happy with this robust scooter for the time being at least, and API not wishing to add any expense by retooling to a more modern model.

Then in 1972, the Indian government purchased the tooling from the recently closed Lambretta factory in Italy, which at the time was producing the dl/GP range of scooters. Production eventually started around 1974.

So returning to my above conclusion, Pakistan and India were not exactly best of friends in the 1950s and 60s, so trade between the countries was pretty much non-existant, thus scooters produced in India would not have been exported across the border; even if API’s agreement with Innocenti of Milan had allowed them to do so.

Secondly, a lot of the models in this video were not ever produced in India – Li Series 3 and SX by the looks of it, possibly TV too – which again points to Pakistan where Innocenti shipped scooters to directly (there are some Li Series 2s in this video as well).

Now whilst Li Series 3 and SX models have turned in India, mainly private imports by Europeans working there, the chances of getting this many together for one film shoot are slim. And besides, why would they?

I could be wrong of course, but at least I’m opening the potential for debate over the matter, hey?

Anyway, I’ll put my anorak away for now, and next must say that those ladies riding pillion deserve some credit for putting up with the antics of their singing riders. I bet neither are professional stunt riders and while it all looks good on film, I’m sure from time to time I’m glimpsing s few nervous looks from the back seat as the rider wiggles the handlebars furioualy from side to side! “Yes fella, your steering bearings are perfectly ok, now will you please ride normally?”

One thing I did see in this short film was a camera angle similar to one used in the film Quadrophenia. It’s when Jimmy and his mates arrive on the outskirts of Brighton (despite the actual location!) at dawn, and the camera is up on a verge looking down on the group of riders as they pull up at the side of the road and glance towards the seaside. There’s a similar shot from above in this film clip and thanks to the lack of rear luggage carriers, racks or indeed luggage on the scootyers in either film, you get the chance to really appreciate the slender tail end of the slimstyle Lambretta.

If you’ve not noticed it before then take another look. As beautiful as a carvaceous Vespa is, the mid-60s Lambrettas had a look of their own that is equally as appealing in my mind.

Anyway, enjoy the film.



4 thoughts on “Bollywood Lambrettas, or is it Pakistan?

  1. Yes, Lambrettas are certainly good with me. I couldn’t help but watch the gal riding sidesaddle on the singer’s scoot – her legs flicking out as he wiggled while he drove. But then, that’s how the kids did stuffs for realz.

    Loved the vid!

  2. This song was filmed in Beirut, though the audience in 1960s India were made to believe twas shot entirely in Paris! And most of them certainly did.

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