Trains and Bollywood - 5 most memorable sequences

As said by Shakespeare, the show must go on and so must the train, as it is destined to. With its might and elegance, and the sound of 'chhuk chhuk', the train always provides a subtle rhyme to the travelers. As many of the legends such as Satyajit Ray, Rudyard Kipling and  Ruskin Bond will vouch for, railways have been an integral part of growing up. And Bollywood hasn't been an exception to that. Railways has been providing inspiration to a whole generation of filmmakers and it was not just limited to romantic songs but also the breath taking sequences around deserted railway stations, moving trains and platforms.

Rail ka Dibba in 1953 was one of the initial classics featuring train as an important character

The romance between Bollywood and railways can be traced back to as early as 1942 to the release of 'Station Master' , there were other movies which did involve trains in small sequences but this was the first movie of its kind which totally revolved around the story of a station master. The list is endless with some of the classics such as 'Railways Platform', 'Coolie', '27 Down', 'Bhawani Junction', Half Ticket and many more. But talking of the best sequences ever filmed around/on/in the train, we might have to dig a bit deep.

Here is my list of what I think is the best form of entertainment carved out of the intimate relationship between Bollywood and trains

But before we start the list, there are some notable mentions such as Gadar (with the climax focusing on Sunny Paaji using a goods train to flee from Pakistan to India), Zamane ko dikhana hai (featuring the all time romantic classic - Hoga tumse pyaara kaun, ae kaanchi), Ghulam (with the nerve breaking sequence of running on the railway track against the incoming monster), Swades (with SRK's heart aching sequence of travelling to a remote village), Coolie and Ek Chalis ki Last local to take up a few

Now starting with the 5 sequences that will forever remain etched in our hearts and whenever we think of a train, these sequences will flash past our eyes

5) Gaadi Bula Rahi hai, Seeti Baja Rahi hai

This touching number by Kishore da from movie Dost is a simple yet beautiful explanation of life through the movement of a train. It encompasses the similarities between the journey of life and a train journey. It is a beautiful poetic tribute also underlining the importance of trains in one's life. Dharam ji is as classy as ever and the song has been immortalized by Rangoli and Chitrahar on Doordarshan. Even now when I think of a train song, I end up humming this number.

4) The Burning Train

Released in 1980s, the Burning Train was an attempt to create an action movie in Hollywoodish frame. It was about fighting fire in a burning train and was full of some belting sequences. The movie fell unbelievably at the box office because of poor promotion and introduction of something totally new to the viewers. The movie was full of edge-of-the-seat sequences and some good performances by Dharmendra, Danny and even Simi Garewal in a cameo. Something that always goes amiss is that despite being an action thriller, the movie had incredibly good music. The climax concludes with the engine of the burning train coming out of the tracks and running wild into the city. I remember it gave me shivers then, just the prospect of the red monster in the city
The climax to The Burning Train was worthy of praise among best thrilling scenes in Bollywood

3) Chhaiya Chhaiya

There isn't much left that hasn't been said or written about this masterpiece from A. R.Rahman. One of his finest creations for the movie Dil Se got instant popularity on its release and so did its music video as it was filmed on a moving train. The impact of this song was globally felt and in 2003, ‏the BBC World Service conducted an international poll to choose the ten most popular songs of all time. Around 7000 songs were selected from all over the world. According to the BBC, people from 155 countries voted "Chaiyya Chaiyya" ninth in the top 10 songs

Mani Ratnam got the inspiration to shoot the song on top of a train from Kittu Puttu - Kaalavannu Thadeyoru Yaaru Illa, a 1977 Kannada movie song video, which used a similar "atop the train" sequence, and was directed by his friend, C.V. Rajendran. The song itself was an inspiration from the Sufi folk song "Thaiyya Thaiyya" with lyrics by poet Bulleh Shah

The inspiration behind Chhaiya Chhaiya

2) Mere Sapno ki Raani

This song also deserves the credit for making Darjeeling popular beyond imagination (along with the toy train), besides other beautiful credentials. It almost gave birth to India's first superstar. Composed by SD Burman and sung by Kishore da, this song remains an epitome of romantic songs in Bollywood. In the song a dashing Rajesh Khanna (yeah he was dashing once upon a time) woos Sharmila Tagore from a jeep that moves parallel to the path of her train. It was a path-breaking moment in history of Indian cinema and people say Bollywood romance never remained the same

1) Sholay

Sholay is remarkable in almost every respect and the initial train sequence is no exception. The brilliant landscape coupled with some really cracking chase sequence and gunfire adds to the beauty. The scene is finished with great technical finesse and the government might not approve of the damage caused to the rail bogies. The sequence is also monumental in the movie's context as it is the first meeting between 'Thakur' and 'Jai-Veeru'. It was shot on the Mumbai-Pune line, near Panvel and took 7 weeks to be completed. There are other instances as well when Jai-Veeru land in Ramgarh where train has been crucially important but this scene got etched into everyone's mind like nothing else.

Some notable mentions must also go to the song 'Dhanno ki aankhon me' from movie Kitab and movie Coolie

Trains have been part of Indian cinema longer than any other superstar and the trend still continues when Shahid Kapoor sings in Jab We Met.....

May the chook chook never stop


{ adarsh khare } at: May 9, 2012 at 2:30 AM said...

pussy cat pussy cat
achha likha hai

{ Tarun Mitra } at: May 9, 2012 at 9:32 AM said...

Mere sapno ki rani song is hindi adaptation of bengali song 'amar sopner saathi' with same movie name aradhana..

{ vakrachakshu } at: May 9, 2012 at 10:29 AM said...


{ Nandit Pathak } at: May 16, 2012 at 10:13 AM said...

I've actually heard the Bengali original in a cab in amar Calcutta!

{ amit } at: August 16, 2012 at 2:17 PM said...

how about over and over the top sequence of Gadar..

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