Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has finally gone out and presented his Railway Budget 2013. The UPA minister has promised Wi-Fi at stations, easier access and faster e-Ticketing systems (read IRCTC), Third party Auditing for Railway Kitchens, ISO certification for the same and a string of New trains and no fresh change in Passenger hikes with a guarantee of thousands of jobs in time to come. Many believe that these are just sops and pretty less would actually be implemented in actual while the others feel it’s a correct step in the right direction.
However, all these 160 years since the Mighty infrastructure giant that it is in place, has not only employed close to 15 Lakh individuals but also been a fascination for the Indian Film Industry.
Right from Dadamoni’s ‘Rail Gaadi Rail Gaadi’ song in Aashirwaad (he went onto win a National Award as well as the Filmfare for the performance) to Kaka Rajesh Khanna’s flirtatious acts with Sharmila Tagore in ‘Mere Sapno Ki Rani Kab Aayegi Tu’ through the toy train window and even to Chotte Nawaab’s act in Parineeta atop the Darjeeling toy train singing Kasto Mazza He Relaima, Bollywood have always imbibed and used Railways as a character themselves in the movies. (Mind you, Saif Ali Khan won a National Award too for Parineeta, just like Dada Moni mentioned above, Railways a lucky mascot maybe?)
The train has been a strong connect for the aam aadmi of the nation and an average cinema goer is quickly able to relate with a Raj or a Simran (Dilwaale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge) when they try and defy the age-old customs and traditions, the dreaded family boundations. It might get a bit over the top when you witness Malaika Arora Khan and Shah Rukh Khan bounce, sing and dance atop a transport that goes all around the lengthy tunnels and unchartered terrains (Chaiyya-Chaiyya) but it easily strikes a chord when the Sultana Daaku loots one train after the other in Gangs Of Wasseypur or the fights between Jai-Veeru and the dacoits in Sholay, these are visuals captured time and again, with goon chases or even happy banter shared. Habib Faisal’s Ishaqzaade had the most important turn of tide-event with a Railway coach in the backdrop and so was in Chalo Dilli – a scene trying to emulate the DDLJ, just that we had Lara Dutta and Vinay Pathak in the leads.
Continuing where we left on the songs featured on the Gigantic engineering marvel, Punkaj Mulick’s ‘Aayi Baahar’ from Doctor (1941) and Kavi Pradeep’s ‘Aao Bacho tumhe Sikhaayein’ from Jagriti of 1954 are some notable entries to be mentioned. The song today has one of the most sought after Recall-values and the Pride and Love for a newly found Independence (at that time) is clearly visible.
Talking of songs, how can one not remember the mellifluous Kishore Kumar and his effervescent voice in ‘Cheel Cheel Chilaake’ in Half Ticket, shot entirely inside a railway coach. He’s back in ‘Zindagi Ke Safar Mein’ from Aap Ki Kasam, only that this train journey talks of remorse and sadness as Rajesh Khanna travels around with a pain in his heart, love story gone wrong. Bimal Roy edited- Dost (1974) starts with the moving ‘Gaadi Bulaa Rahi’.
Much has been the attraction and deep rooted connect of the Indian Railways that when SRK decided to don the Superhero avatar, he also chose to do a few histrionics at Chahatrapati Shivaji Terminal for the quaint romantic charm it holds with the common man.