New Delhi: Countless Hindi movies and songs have been shot on trains and now Railways is banking upon Bollywood celebrities to publicise its luxury trains. An invitation has been sent to Amitabh Bachchan, and couple Ajay Devgn and Kajol to take free rides on Maharajas’ Express.
The Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has decided to reach out to celebrities to publicise its ultra luxurious Maharajas’ Express. Free rides in the train have also been offered to all Indian Olympic and Paralympic medallists.
“There are plans to offer special packages to film directors for shooting films on luxury trains. We are reaching out to Bollywood celebrities to take a ride on one of the world’s most luxurious trains,” said IRCTC CMD A K Manocha.
Started in 2010, the Maharajas’ Express offers five fascinating journeys crisscrossing vibrant destinations, significant attractions and offering a vista of breathtaking landscape, culture and heritage. A truly world-class train journey is promised in each of the five itineraries.
With all the luxury, the journey comes at a heavy price. For an eight-night seven-day trip, a passenger has to shell out Rs.4.6 lakh for Deluxe Cabin, Rs.6.6 lakh for a Junior Suite, Rs.9.2 lakh for a suite and Rs.16 lakh for the Presidential Suite. Tours include palaces, fortresses, World Heritage Sites, cultural sightseeing and spirituality of India. The journeys of Maharajas’ Express have even been compared to that of the legendary Orient Express of the West in refinement and luxury.
IRCTC has been planning several measures to attract passengers. Most of the occupants of the train have been foreigners and non-resident Indians. “At present, all trips are conducted between October and March. Now, we are planning to run the train in months from April to September on other routes,” said Manocha.
Bollywood and trains have had a long and mostly affectionate relationship. In fact, Bollywood has a lot to thank the Indian Railways for. From Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore’s dreamy toy train sequence to that fantastic scene from Dilwale Dilhunia Le Jayenge, trains have often been an essential aide to Bollywood romances.
We echo that sentiment wholeheartedly.! Lovers have met on trains, they’ve eloped on trains, and they’ve used the train as a prop for their song and dance sequences. There is so much the Indian Railways has given Bollywood without so much as a thank you in return. It is a gift that just keeps on giving to the film industry.
Here’s looking at how the Indian Railways have helped keep our filmy love stories on track:
Stage 1: Boy Meets Girl. Cupid Strikes.
The train scene from Pakeezah is the poetic beginning to an almost-tragic love story between Sahibjaan, played by Meena Kumari, and Salim, played by Raaj Kumar. He sees just her feet peeping put from the train berth and is instantly smitten.
“Aapke paao dekhe. Bahut haseen hai.. Inhe zameen par mat utariiyega. Maile ho jaaye,” wrote Salim in a letter to the gorgeous Sahibjaan, and the audience was smitten as well.
Baaton Baaton Mein (1979)
A romance that stars the adorably cute Tina Munim as Nancy and everyman-hero Amol Palekar as Tony begins by chance on a Mumbai local. The mustachioed Tony, who fancies himself a cartoonist, cannot take his eyes off the beautiful Nancy and starts to draw a ‘portrait’ of her. While Tina’s uncle is surprisingly impressed by a stranger on a local train taking the liberty to draw a likeness of his niece, Nancy is not cool with it. Nonetheless, Tony and uncle make plans to meet at Nancy’s place later on and from here begins their on-now off-now tale of love.
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)
Yes, yes, yes. We know which train scene DDLJ is most famous for but let’s not forget that Kajol and SRK first met on a train as the two set off by Eurorail on their vacation. As the movie ends, so it begins: with Shah Rukh extending his hand to help Kajol get on the train.
Chennai Express (2013)
Rahul (naam to suna hoga?) is 40 but spry, helping not just a sprinting Meenamma onto the moving Chennai Express but also her pursuers. Shah Rukh Khan, who is clearly the champion of romance on trains, and Deepika Padukone have a chance encounter that turns into the filmiest of dramas involving goons, a disapproving father who also happens to be a don and a rival to Meenamma’s affections. But never underestimate the power of a common man and the Indian Railways.
Stage 1.0: Boy Meets Girl But she Doesn’t Know He Exists
Dil Se (1998)
The movie Dil Se is perhaps most famous for its music and the fact that Chaiyya Chaiyyafilmed atop a moving train. The song plays right after SRK catches a glimpse of Manisha Koirala at the railway station and, like all good Bollywood heroes are wont to do, he breaks into a song and dance number. Chaiyya Chaiyya was a landmark song for more reasons than the beautiful Malaika Arora Khan. This wasn’t the first time a song was filmed on top of a train, but this was definitely the first time someone was shot dancing on top of a real, moving train. Get the difference? The song appears right after Shah Rukh Khan sees for the first time and is enamored of a mysterious woman.
Stage 1.1 : Boy and Girl Are About to Meet But Don’t Know it Yet
She’s on a toy train, he’s in a car. And together, they gave us a gorgeous view of the hills of Darjeeling while singing a song that lovers will remember for centuries. Rajesh Khanna sings a question asking Mere Sapno Ki Rani Kab Ayegi Tu?, little knowing that the answer is riding in the train chugging alongside the winding hill road he’s driving on.
Stage 2: Love Happens. Such Fun. Much Songs.
Baaton Baaton Mein (1979)
The story continues as the love-struck Tony changes his office and train timings to match Nancy’s. And from here begins a series of meetings and dates – on the 9.15 train, to the approval of her family and the disdain of his. The lead track of the films play over a montage of their various dates on the train, as well as all over Mumbai, convincing pining lovers all over that love happens mostly on trains.
Stage 2.0: Hero is in Raptures. Spontaneous Combustion of Singing and Dancing.
Kasto Mazza Hai is Saif Ali Khan’s musical epiphany as he’s coming back from Darjeeling after a business trip. After about an hour into the film, the hero FINALLY realises that he loves the heroine. Halleluiah? The song is shot on a toy train and features Vidya Balan’s cameo as Saifu just cannot stop seeing her everywhere.
Stage 3: Flirting. Wooing. Songs, songs and more songs.
The Burning Train (1980)
The whole movie revolves around a train and its passengers who love to sing, dance and happen to be an extremely pally bunch. The film had a mammoth cast and starred Hema Malini, Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna, Parveen Babi, Jeetendra, Neetu Singh, Danny, Simi Garewal and many, many more. The song Pal do Pal ka Saath Humara was sung by the passengers in train lead by Jitendra and Neetu who’re happily flirting with each other as their co-passengers egg them on, unaware that they will soon have to be rescued from an inferno on wheels.
Stage 3.0: She’s sulking. He woos her with song.
Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai (1981)
She is pouty and annoyed, he’s tripping in love. Starring Padmini Kolhapure and Rishi Kapoor, this was the original on-top-of-a-train song sequence, with a little help from technology of course. The song Hoga Tumse Pyara Kaun plays after Rishi and Padmini fall in love and are still in the initial courtship period. The song is not just visually lovely but musically awesome as well. The love affair falls off track soon after, but they still do end up giving us a song to remember them by.
Stage 4: Pyaar. Ishq. Mohobbat. Shaadi.
Rajesh Khanna and Zeenat Aman sing Hum Dono Do Premi as they ride atop a train on their way to elopement. They get married in a temple and then things go horribly wrong, but that’s a separate story.
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)
Love in the time of a moving train! That last train scene of DDLJ is etched on the pages of history as that epic, unforgettable moment when Shah Rukh Khan leaned out of a train leaving station to extend his hand to the heroine. Kajol, dressed in a lehenga that probably weighed a sizable amount, manages to run and get on the train.
This scene has since been rehashed and recreated in Shah Rukh’s Chennai Express as well as in Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani by Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone. Let’s just safely assume that this scene will never really go out of fashion as long as love and trains exist.
And then there is the flip side to romance – rejection. Because what’s a good desi love story without some heartbreak, right?
Stage 1: Why Are You Talking to Me? Go Away.
Jab We Met (2007)
The train is of paramount importance in the cult hit, Jab We Met. This is where the meet-greet session of the lead couple takes place. Of course, it’s basically just Kareena Kapoor talking non-stop while Shahid Kapoor gazes on like one struck by a heavy iron club. The supremely talkative (and nosy) Geet misses her train while trying to get Shahid to board again. Ironically, it was her loud chattering that the poor man was trying to escape. Happily, as we all know, the two become friends as the film progress and ends on a note that restores our faith in fate and Cupid and all things mushy.
Stage 2: Eh. Hello? Why Won’t You GO AWAY Already?
After chasing and stalking Rani Mukerji for a long time, Vivek Oberoi finally catches hold of her on the Mumbai local. He is in love, she couldn’t care less. He proposes to her on the train and she asks him to jump out of the train. Aaah, these lovers nowadays. Don’t you worry though. The film has a happier end than this particular scene.
Stage 3: Seriously Dude. Leave Me Alone, Or Else.
Tanu Weds Manu (2011)
About 20 minutes into the film the newly-enganged Kangana and Madhavan leave for Vaishno Devi via train with their families in tow. There is singing, dancing and then a declaration from Kangana that changes everything. Kangana asks the super sweet Madhavan to leave her alone and break off the match because she loves someone else. WHAM. Love hurts.
Stage 4: Nobody Loves Me
AapKi Kasam (1974)
Aap Ki Kasam is the strange tale of a suspicious husband with a beautiful and loving wife. They both love each other but he loves his suspicions more. He thinks she’s cheating on him and leaves her to go on a country-wide train tour while singing this deeply introspective number that leads him back to his child. Conclusion: long train rides can help us come to the right conclusion.