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The Bollywood Ode To Indian Trains

The summer season in India has brought with itself a surge in travel, for which the train is the most preferred mode of transport for most people. While the scorching summer is pushing people out of their homes to cooler places for vacations, the Lok Sabha elections, being held across the country in seven phases, have further compounded the number of travelers across state borders as they exercise their right to vote.

While the Indian railways have been an integral part of nation-building and the lives of its citizens, they also have had a major influence on Hindi cinema serving as an important plot point in many stories on the celluloid.

Here are some Bollywood films where the trains played a pivotal role in the narrative.

‘Saathiya’, which was released in 2002, had the Mumbai local as an important catalyst to the love story between its lead pair. Vivek Oberoi, who made a sensational debut with ‘Company’ in the role of a gangster, underwent a 180-degree shift for his role of a lover in the film, which was a Hindi adaptation of ‘Alai Payuthey’ directed by Mani Ratnam.

‘Jab We Met’ is a defining film in Kareena Kapoor Khan’s filmography, the one that established her as a leading female force in Hindi cinema. The story of ‘Jab We Met’ can’t be separated from the train on which she finds Aditya Kashyap (Shahid Kapoor) without a purpose, only to later change his life for good.

Who could forget the fascination of Geet (Kareena) for the side berth? The two miss out on the train twice and embark on a journey where they get to know more about each other.

‘Baton Baton Mein’, directed by Basu Chatterjee tells the story of an honest and hard-working middle class as they make their way around the Bombay of the 1970s. The director set a major part of the film in the 9:10 local that his protagonists commuted in.

As legendary ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ is, it has also given the famed scene to Hindi cinema where Raj is aboard the train, calling Simran for one last time as her father tightly holds her hand. It was at that moment when Chaudhary Baldev Singh (played by Amrish Puri) underwent a change of heart. As he understands Raj’s eternal love for Simran, he lets her go with the dialogue, “Jaa Simran jaa, jee le apni zindagi.”

The list would be incomplete without the mention of ‘The Burning Train’. The multi-star film tells the story of passengers aboard a special train Super Express which suffers sabotage. The film has quite a few elements like the James Cameron directorial ‘Titanic’ mainly in terms of the luxury and the novelty that both the modes of tran

sport promised and a tragedy that leaves the passengers scrambling inside a limited physical space. The film was one of the most expensive films of its time given its production value.

The song ‘Chaiya Chaiya’ deserves a special mention in this list. Although the plot of ‘Dil Se..’ has no relevance to the trains, it’s the song that has over the years gained a cult status and why not? Afterall, it features some of the finest talents in our cinema including Shah Rukh Khan, Malaika Arora, Mani Ratnam, Sukhwinder, A. R. Rahman, Gulzar, Farah Khan, and Santosh Sivan.

The iconic song was shot on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway Line. The narrow-gauge railway and the geography of Ooty posed a serious logistical challenge to the crew but, eventually they came out shining at the other end given how the song and its visuals have aged in 26 years since its release. (Courtesy:

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