A double-decker in Paris

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The movie, ‘An Evening in Paris’, found its way to cinema halls in India in 1967. Shot extensively in the picturesque locales of Paris–the French city of love, the Hindi movie starring Shammi Kapoor as Shyam (Sam) and Sharmila Tagore as Deepa Malik alias Roopa Malik (Suzy) depicted a story of two young souls who come in contact with each other quite by accident and fall in love. Travelling to Paris in search of true love, Deepa, supported by her wealthy father boards a rather futuristic looking Paris tour bus in an effort to get rid of the pesky romeo who is no other than Shyam. How Shyam lands there is a mystery, and their-in lies the plot of many a Hindi movies. Shyam follows Deepa onboard the bus, operated by Groupe Cityrama. Shyam’s perseverance pays off – He and Deepa fall for each other. The Paris tour bus turns out to be platform for a life changing event.

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At a time when ‘tail fins’ were in vogue as far as the design of automobiles was concerned, Groupe Cityrama is known to have engaged French coach-builder Currus to create a futuristic looking double-decker bus. Currus responded by building a double-decker bus on a Citroen U55 truck chassis. Called as the Citroen U55 Cityrama Currus, the double-decker bus, painted in a shade of red, white and blue (looks monochrome in the movie), was pressed into service in Paris in the 1950s. Flaunting styling elements like the faux wire-strike knife positioned atop the center of the driver’s windshield, and an extensive use of glass, the double-decker bus proved to be quite popular with the people of Paris. If the curved glass windows made it easy to catch a good view of the sights in Paris, a substantial portion of the side walls and roof were made in glass too. The bus also flaunted a transparent glass roof on the upper deck, which was quite rare at that time. The transparent glass roof could be taken off during summer. Enough to make people wonder if it came from outer space, each seat of the Paris tour bus was equipped with a Paris voice guide system in eight different languages. In service till 1965, the srangely attractive Citroen U55 -based city tour bus was powered by either a petrol or a diesel engine. The six-cylinder, 4.5-litre indirect injection diesel engine of the bus developed 73 hp. It was the first big Citroen (Type 45) engine to have not been derived from Citroen car engines! The rolling chassis was made available in either axle configurations, and in different wheelbase specifications. Making for a memorable city-tour experience, the Citroen U55-based city tour bus, plying the boulevards of Paris, made for a larger than life sight in the movie with Shammi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore riding it.