Friday nights are for mulling over random things with friends.

And so I found myself inexplicably obsessing over those melodious Hindi film songs that featured books, books as a backdrop, books being read, budding romances in the library and the like. Every now and then a Hindi film song comes along that give me my visual fix of book lined rooms, but of late I haven’t come across very many, I said wistfully.

Kitaabein bahut si padhi hogi tumne from Baazigar, suggested a friend in a bid to cheer me up. He is a non-reader, of course. A song where a book is snatched away from your hands? Excuse me while I throw up. No, this is about books being celebrated in Hindi films.

Jaane Woh Kaise from Pyaasa (1957)

No film captures the heartbreak of being an unsuccessful writer the way Pyaasa does. Guru Dutt’s character, a brilliant but unpublished poet, is compelled by poverty to work as a servant in his college sweetheart’s household by her sadistic husband, who is a prosperous and unscrupulous publisher.

Jaane Woh Kaise is a song not just of romantic yearning, it is much more an expression of longing for recognition as a poet. The haunting melody, the backdrop of books, the audience stunned into silence, Rehman’s chilling expression as the cruel, exploitative husband – this is what heartbreaks are made of.

Mere Sapnon ki Rani from Aradhana (1969)

The ultimate product placement before there was such a thing as product placement, this Alistair Maclean plug features a coy Sharmila Tagore reading When Eight Bells Toll in the window seat of the Darjeeling toy train while an energetic Rajesh Khanna, cap askew, serenades her from his car. The rhythm of the chugging train blends perfectly with the rhythm of the song, which achieved iconic status, thus sealing Alastair Maclean in Indian consciousness forever.

And the act of reading, you ask? Well, she does read a bit, but mostly the book stands in for a Japanese fan or a Victorian parasol. Ample time to show off the cover page, I say.

Chupke Chupke Chal di Purvaiya from Chupke Chupke (1975)

This breezy comedy of manners cocking a snook at our class obsessions is also a story about two professors who are close friends. Hence, books abound. Sa-Re-Ga-Ma, in which Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan entertain a bemused Sharmila Tagore against a backdrop of lustworthy hardback omnibuses is the obvious choice, but I prefer Chupke Chupke Chal di Purvaiya.

A distracted Jaya Bhaduri clutches her Botany book to herself as she sings while the fake Botany professor, Amitabh, wakes up bleary-eyed at his desk after an all-nighter and desperately leafs through the pages of a syllabus text in a bid to woo her. Well-thumbed books from English and Bengali literature, neatly arranged on his desk, give away his true preference. The scene has that rare quality in Hindi films, charm.

Tum ko Dekha to Ye Khayal Aaya from Saath Saath (1982)

The alternate Hindi film world of the 1980s had its own hit pair in Farooque Shaikh and Deepti Naval. They inhabited the urban world of modernist public architecture, Enfield Bullet motorbikes, barsatis, college canteens and – oh joy! – college libraries with catalogued shelves and gaps in the books from where they would gaze at each other with smiling eyes and sing soulful songs. Tum ko Dekha to Ye Khayal Aaya is the perfect example.

Rooth Na Jaana  from 1942 A Love Story (1994)

Rooth na Jaana  is very hummable indeed and I like that room, although I would ban vandal-in-chief Anil Kapoor from it in perpetuity. Library? Check. Hardbacks? Check. Period charm and grand colonial architecture? Check. Wooing the girl from the opposite side of the bookshelf? Check.

If you are an aspiring filmmaker considering a library scene, know this: no romance is possible between fellow library goers if you browse books side by side in the Hindi film universe. You have to gaze at each other from opposite sides, otherwise you break cosmic Hindi film law and everyone dies. Really.