Bollywood movies are known for their fascination with trains. Several iconic scenes and songs related to trains are ingrained in people’s minds.
For instance: Bollywood’s first superstar Rajesh Khanna hanging out of a jeep, serenading his sapno ki rani (woman of his dreams) Sharmila Tagore sitting in the Darjeeling toy train in ‘Aradhana’, Shah Rukh Khan matching steps with Malaika Arora on top of a train in ‘Dil Se’ and Amitabh Bachchan carrying luggage on his head in ‘Coolie’.
These, and many more scenes about trains, have been brought alive on the walls of Delhi’s National Rail Museum in Chanakyapuri, by Delhi Street Art (DSA), a collective formed with the aim of promoting public art by young artists.
Reliving the memorable scenes — many from the blockbuster movies of yesteryears — the walls have become a ‘selfie point’ for museum visitors. Cherishing the fond memories, they are seen posing with their favourite stars in the backdrop.
HOW IT BEGAN
The idea was conceptualised in 2013, a year that marked the centenary of Indian cinema, considered one of the most prolific movie industries in the world. During one of his visits to the museum, then Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani discussed with officials how the interior walls of the museum could be beautified.
Yogesh Saini, founder of DSA, recalled: “We had partnered with several schoolchildren and beautified the exterior walls of the museum. The officials appreciated our work and decided upon having something engaging on the inner walls as well.”
Saini was delighted when Amit Saurastri, director of the rail museum, discussed with him about having Bollywood-themed art on the walls. “I remember him saying Bollywood and Railways are two things that Indians connect with the most. He desired that visitors should get a feel of both at the museum. The ones that instantly came to mind were scenes from ‘Aradhana’, ‘Coolie’ and ‘Veer Zaara’,” Saini recollected.
Since general rail themes had been carried out at several places in the past, the new idea clicked immediately with everyone, as it was probably the first time that memorable scenes from movies were depicted at a major tourist spot. As the drab walls of the zone next to the souvenir shop, including an office block and restrooms for men and women, got a colourful makeover, within no time the paintings became immensely popular among visitors.
“It led to many requesting for their favourite scenes to be included. After much brainstorming, our team decided to showcase eight more scenes at the museum,” the artist added.
The entire project was completed in two phases by over a dozen artists. The second phase of the celluloid journey encompassed scenes from the movies ‘Tere Naam’, ‘Ajnabee’, ‘Chennai Express’, ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’, ‘Jab We Met’, ‘Fanaa’, ‘Dil Se’ and ‘Ki & Ka’.
Navtej Singh, a tourist from Punjab said: “I have come here along with my wife and daughter. While we were buying souvenirs for family and friends back home, our daughter spotted the larger-than-life mural of Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor from ‘Jab We Met’. Excited, she called for me to have her photo clicked with the stars.
“Later, we went around the entire wing and discovered a total of 11 beautiful paintings. My favourite is the ‘Hum Dono Do Premi’ song sequence from ‘Ajnabee’, a late 90s movie starring India’s first superstar Rajesh Khanna and Zeenat Aman. It really transported me to another era.”
REEL TO REAL
Scenes that are now an integral part of the museum include Shah Rukh Khan and Malaika Arora’s dance number ‘Chhaiya, Chhaiya’ from ‘Dil Se’. Shot in an open carriage, it continues to be one of the most popular Bollywood songs on a train. Then there is the unforgettable climax scene from ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ where Kajol runs to board the running train.
A hilarious take on the ‘DDLJ’ scene is the train sequence from ‘Chennai Express’, starring Khan and Deepika Padukone where the hero is seen extending his hand to the heroine and then to all the goons chasing her.
Amitabh Bachchan’s blockbuster ‘Coolie’, also remembered for his near-fatal accident showed the plight of a railway porter and his struggle to make ends meet. In ‘Jab We Met’, the train was the meeting point of the protagonists Geet and Aditya (Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor).
ASKING FOR MORE
Trains have not only enhanced the visual beauty, but every possible moment — action, thrill, romance, drama and suspense has been shot by filmmakers inside or outside trains.
After going around the premises, a college student Shalini Gupta said: “For movie buffs like me, trains symbolise several emotions. The portrayal has remained different in each movie and song, but I am sure the majority of Indians connect with this mode of transport. I felt nostalgic about my childhood memories of watching movies and travelling by train with my parents.
“I wish the authorities dedicate more space to such paintings. I miss images of the multi-starrer ‘The Burning Train’, which was shot entirely on a train. That apart, Bollywood icon Salman Khan’s ‘Kick’, Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh’s ‘Rafoo Chakkar’ and Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra’s train scene from ‘Sholay’ must be added.”
DID YOU KNOW?
The song ‘Chand Sifarish’ from Aamir Khan and Kajol’s ‘Fanaa’ was filmed at the National Rail Museum. ‘Ki & Ka’ was also shot at the museum against the backdrop of vintage trains and the song ‘Foolishq’ was shot in and around the Rewari Heritage train. The hero Arjun Kapoor plays the role of Kabir, who has an obsession with trains. As shown in the movie, on his first date with Kia (Kareena Kapoor) he takes her to a train museum.
STATIONS IN DEMAND
The presence of trains in movies has proved beneficial for the railways, as they get remuneration and earn millions of rupees annually for shooting at platforms and trains. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal (CST) in Mumbai is the most ‘in demand’ railway station, as the building is in the list of the world heritage sites. Numerous movies including ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayange’, ‘Jab We Met’, ‘Gunday’, ‘Chennai Express’, were shot at the Mumbai station. Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone’s ‘Love Aaj Kal’ was shot at Punjab’s Patiala railway station. Ayushmann Khurrana recently shot several scenes for ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan’ at Varanasi’s Manduadih railway station in Uttar Pradesh.
Considered one of the four largest museums in the world, National Rail Museum, inaugurated in 1977, has a fascinating collection of over 100 real-size exhibits of Indian Railways. The old engines (built in 1855), carriage cars and royal saloons (built in 1875) are displayed in an open area to simulate the atmosphere of a railway yard. Visitors can also take a ride on the toy train.