Trains, the train tracks, have been an important part of our Hindi cinema. There have been romantic songs on a train, or people separating from each other on a railway platform, singing soulful songs on the train etc. An equally popular scenario is of the hero traveling on the roads and the heroine traveling on a train, their paths following a parallel design.
In many of such ‘train songs’, the whistle of the train, or the clickety clackety (sound generated by the wheels on the rail tracks, the sounds of breaks etc) make a lively and lovely appearance in the orchestration. And that sounds very exciting and melodious. Though the rhythm isn’t as infectious as the tonga beats, it does sound interesting. In fact, the idea of train songs popped up in my mind, when I was working on my list of songs with Tonga beats.
There are other aspects as far as the trains in the Hindi cinema are concerned. A few of the films have been shot on a train to a major extent, or at least some part of the film is shot on a train or a platform. The films, Railway Platform, The Burning Train or the more recent one, Chennai Express can be cited as examples.
If I talk about books, How can I forgot Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’. What a wonderfully crafted story, it revolves entirely around the passengers of the Orient Express and the story actually happens on the train almost entirely. And how brilliantly Poirot solves the murder mystery! I am sure you have read it if you are an Agatha Christie fan like me. In fact some of her other novels like ‘4.50 from Paddington’ and ‘The ABC murders’ also have a backdrop of trains and train stations. These novels are wonderful too and who could forget the magical Hogwarts Express and platform 9 and 3/4 in the Harry Potter novels. Oh! I digress.
Let’s go back to Hindi cinema, the railways have been used in the backdrop in a significant way in the story and more so in film songs.
But, I won’t go into the technical details of a train or the evolution and history of the trains in India or the World.
I was working on this theme for a long time. Though it is a relatively common place theme, my interest and enthusiasm didn’t shake. I was determined to have my own list. While I was collecting the songs and going through various sources, I could collect a long list of songs. And by now, most of the readers know, I’m very bad at shortlisting the songs. I want all my favourites to appear on the list. This time as well, the same story continued.
Finally when I saw my list of songs, I thought of categorising them in two groups. The thing that remains common is that the song has to be picturised on a running train. Let me explain how I categorised the songs.
The first group of songs would have the train rhythm in the orchestration of the song and it has to be picturised on a running train.
The second group of songs would be of course picturised on a running train, but have no train rhythm to support it.
More about the groups in subsequent posts, where I would post the songs pertaining to the category. It would be a series of posts, spread across the entire month.
Today as I announce the beginning of the month of the train songs, I intend to post a few songs that I couldn’t fit in either of the mentioned categories. The songs would have some connection with the railways, the railway platform or the train rhythm. I’ve also included a few of the popular or interesting train scenes from Hindi films.
Before you start yawning, as I am inclined to long prologues, let me start the list.
Ye Rail Hamare Ghar Ki – Station Master (1942) Rajkumari, Prem Adib & Chorus / Naushad – P L Santoshi
What else could be the best song to start the list? The movie Station Master obviously revolves around the life of a station master. His daughter, Usha (Ratnamala) is in love with Prem Adib, who plays the train guard. A part of the song is sung by the Chorus. It’s a cute and fun song. The lyrics are also related to the terms used on a railway platform. The song has a train rhythm, though it’s not picturised on a running train. I took it as a perfect song to open the list.
Jawani Ki Rail Chali Jaye Re – Shehnai (1947) Amirbai Karnataki, Geeta Dutt, Lata Mangeshkar & Chitalkar / C Ramchandra – P L Santoshi
I included the song on the list as it’s a stage performance in a fair and not picturised on actual train, though the song has a train rhythm for the majority of the part. It’s quite a popular song and has a very catchy tune. I wonder why there are four dancers, when only three of them have separate verses to sing. Rehana lip syncs to Amirbai’s voice, while Geeta Dutt lends her voice for Dulari. I couldn’t recognize the actress Lata Mangeshkar sings for. She’s perhaps an extra dancer. The song holds historical place being the first, Lata Mangeshkar sang for C Ramchandra. She was an upcoming singer and her thin voice was in total contrast with the heavy voices the era was popular for.
Dil Ka Yeh Engine Seetiyan Mare – Ustad Pedro (1951) Chitalkar & Lata Mangeshkar / C Ramchandra – Raja Mehdi Ali Khan
A fun song, very much enjoyable. Talks about the engine of heart whistling for its beloved. It uses plenty of train related things, and has whistling of the train too. It’s a little surprising that Lata Mangeshkar sang the song, I mean the language is somewhat slang. Similarly, not a type of song, one would expect from Raja Mehdi Ali Khan. Second song by C Ramchandra on the list. His films always had such naughty light hearted songs, at least in the late 40s and the early 50s. While Shamshad Begum used to be his choice for such songs, slowly even for these songs, he started calling Lata Mangeshkar.
Basti Basti Parbat Parbat Gaata Jaye Banjara – Railway Platform (1955) Rafi / Madan Mohan – Sahir
Though in the end, we come to know that, Manmohan Krishna sings it seated in a train compartment, most of it focuses on the railway tracks. It’s actually a credits song. The film is also picturised on a running train and it confines to the train, railway platform for a long period of time.
Railgadi Railgadi – Aashirwad (1968) Ashok Kumar / Vasant Desai – Harindranath Chatopadhay
I was about to miss the song, but remembered in time. How I could have missed it. A fun song sung in rap like fashion by Ashok Kumar. Nearly breathless rendition. He seems to enjoy himself, while singing as well as during the shoot. The song has train rhythm, a catchy one, and a number of names of various train stations. Enjoy!
Deewana Dil Deewana – Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994) Amit Kumar & Udit Narayan / Jatin Lalit – Majrooh
The song is sung by Shah Rukh Khan and Deepak Tijori, both are in love with Suchitra Krishnamurthy and want to escort her from the railway station. A small part of the song is also picturised on Vasco Da Gama station. There are scenes of a train traveling through beautiful scenery and luscious green trees and shrubs.
Do Pal Ruka Khwabon Ka Karwan – Veer Zaara (2004) Lata Mangeshkar & Sonu Nigam / Madan Mohan (recreated by Sanjeev Kohli) – Javed Akhtar
Veer and Zaara fall in love, but as he confesses his love to her, they are confronted with Zaara’s fiancé and they get separated. They separate on a railway platform, where she gets back to Lahore in Pakistan. Though not full, at least half of the song is picturised on the platform.
Now a few memorable, interesting or important scenes from Hindi films (barring one scene), which have a thread of railways either directly or in some way or the other. The scenes are arranged in chronological order. So let’s begin.
1. The Train scene from Main Chup Rahungi (1962)
A train scene portraying the first meeting of hero and heroine. Meena Kumari gets a ticket for the third class compartment, but she has to catch the train in a hurry and accidentally lands up in the first class carriage, where she meets handsome Sunil Dutt. Though she’s a little embarrassed, Sunil Dutt at once falls for her. He lies about himself. Though she is also attracted to him, she doesn’t reveal it. A very cute train scene. Not shot on a real train, fully on a studio set.
2. Railway Platform scene from Grihasthi (1963)
Mehmood bids farewell to his friend, who has boarded a train. While Mehmood wants to show what he can do, he whistles loudly that actually sets the train moving. The train guard fails to catch it, cursing the man responsible for it. Incidentally a few other people fail to catch the train as well. It is revealed later on that the men are actually thieves trying to run away from the policemen. But they are caught ultimately. So while Mehmood behaves mischievously, he indirectly helps to catch thieves. The scene is a mixture of real outdoor platform scenes and the scenes shot on a set.
3. The popular train scene from Pakeezah (1972)
As opposed to the first scene on the list, where the lead pair meets in a train compartment with each other, the hero gets just a glimpse of the heroine’s face in this instance. But he is fascinated with her elegant feet. So he writes, “आपके पाॅंव देखे, बहोत हसीं हैं, इन्हें जमीं पे मत उतारिएगा, मैले हो जाएंगे”
She doesn’t know who he is, but she is very much interested in her secret admirer. It’s an iconic train scene. The hero accidentally lands up in the compartment, but he behaves as if he is in his own compartment. Here as well, the train is not the real one.
4. The Railway track fight scene from Sholey (1975)
I had nearly forgotten about this scene when it suddenly popped up on YouTube, where I was searching for the train scenes. As I was searching for scenes of different moods or shades, it was an apt scene for the list. Thakur’s first encounter with Veeru and Jai. The former is searching for courageous men, when he remembers the incident. The two of them not only clear up the goons’ attack, but also save Thakur’s life by admitting him in a hospital, without thinking of their own fate. So this scene forms an important part of the narrative of the movie. It is excellently shot on a real running train and the action sequences are good too. Good use of different camera angles, and good locations. The rail tracks run through a deserted area, hardly a few cactus plants near the track, though we occassionally see ponds. In all, an impressive scene.
5. The climax scene from The Burning Train (1980)
More than half of the film was shot on a running train, in cooperation with the Indian railways. The story is about an express train that is set on fire by a few negative elements in society. The climax scene is shot on a couple of trains running parallel to each other. It was a multistarrer movie, with a big list of film stars making appearances on the silver screen. Dharmendra, Jitendra, Vinod Khanna, Hema Malini, Parveen Babi, Neetu Singh, Simmi Garewal, Danny Denzongpa, etc. Though it’s not very impressive throughout, (a few scenes actually using a miniature set of the railway track and train, which we can clearly make out) it’s worth watching once.
6. The Train scene from Gandhi (1982)
This scene portrays one of the most important incidents in Mahatma Gandhi’s life. And it changed Gandhi’s life forever, in fact it led to the legend that he later became. So it was a must for today’s list, though not belonging to a Hindi film. On 7 June 1893, while the young Mahatma Gandhi was on his way to Pretoria, a white man objected to Gandhi’s presence in a first-class carriage. Despite Gandhi having a first-class ticket, he was ordered by the conductor to move. Gandhi refused, and he was literally thrown out of the train at Pietermaritzburg. A total injustice it was.
He had to spend the entire night, shivering on the platform. Gandhi made the decision to stay on in South Africa and fight the racial discrimination against Indians there. His non violent protest campaign started from this incident. So the historical scene is a part of today’s post.
7. The Iconic Platform scene from DDLJ (1995)
The clip combines both the railway platform scenes from DDLJ. The first time, in London, when Kajol is about to miss her train, Shah Rukh Khan helps her get on the train. During the Europe trip they fall in love, but Kajol is already engaged to her father’s friend’s son. During the climax of the movie, we again encounter a similar scenario. This time after a melodrama, Kajol’s father allows her to follow her heart and she reunites with Shah Rukh Khan. Again he helps her to catch the train. It’s a memorable scene from the movie. Today’s list would have been incomplete without it.
8. Anjali leaves the college, railway platform scene from Kuchh Kuchh Hota Hai (1998)
When Anjali realises that Raj and Tina love each other but she herself loves Raj to bits so she decides to leave the college for good. Raj is obviously upset about it, but his attempts to persuade her to stay fail. Anjali goes away. But Tina realises the deep friendship between the two. It’s one of the emotional scenes of the movie.
9. Comedy scene from Chennai express (2013)
I liked the movie and the way the comedy is handled throughout the movie by Rohit Shetty. The train traveling to Chennai forms an important part of the movie. This scene depicts the ‘musical’ conversation between Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone. She conveys her messages to him by singing. She uses Hindi film songs as templates because the men who kidnapped her don’t understand Hindi. Quite a fun to watch.
Please share your favourite train scenes from Hindi films. There are many, I know.
Mehfil Mein Meri, claims no credit for any image, screenshots or songs posted on this site. Images on this blog are posted to make the text interesting. The images and screenshots are the copyright of their original owners. The song links are shared from YouTube, only for the listening convenience of music lovers. The copyright of these songs rests with the respective owners, producers and music companies.