Steam behemoth rides in Bollywood

January 1, 2017

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year with guest article by DP Rangan

(Steam engines are everyone’s childhood romance.  The billowing smoke, the speck of light becoming bigger, the strange rhythmic sound of the wheels clanking with the rails, and a gentle tremor as the train chugged into the station, were a source of wonder not only for the children, but also for the adults. Waiting for the train was as exciting as the journey itself. Those days ‘people like us’ did not travel by planes. With air travel becoming middle class, and the modern diesel/electric-powered successors of the steam engine entering the station quietly, the train journey has been denuded of a great deal of its charm. Taking us on a nostalgia-trip is our seventy-plus-but-eternally-young DP Rangan, who packs in a massive amount of research into the origin of the steam engines, interesting trivia and their uses in films and songs all over the world.  One couldn’t ask for a better New  Year gift. I am delighted to wish the readers a very Happy New Year with this guest article by Mr. Rangan. Than you, Mr. Rangan. – AK)

World's Oldest Fairy Queen Steam Locomotive EIR 22The little boy standing at the railway platform with his uncle is completely entranced. As a 7 year old, he is going on a rail journey to the great metropolis Madras, capital of the Madras Presidency, with his uncle. He is keenly gazing at the distant spot where he expects the steam engine to emerge. Suddenly, he sees a dark shape hurtling towards him belching smoke and steam with a tell-tale rhythm peculiar to the steam engines. He is quite close to the edge ignoring his uncle’s warnings. As the engine rushes past him with passenger cars in tow, he is pulled back by his alarmed uncle, but not before a fire-spark from the smokestack has burnt a nice hole in his shirt and also scorched his skin. He is all smiles and brushes off his uncle’s rebukes after they are seated in the train. His uncle does not understand the enthusiasm of his nephew and tells him he has made umpteen number of journeys by train since his birth. The boy states that this is the first time he is conscious of it and would savour every moment of it. They had to travel seated as sleepers were not invented in British days. The boy did not sleep during the whole night and was always peeping out to have look at the steam engine. He was brushing off irritating carbon specks lodged in his eyes. By the time they landed in Madras Egmore next morning, his upper half was besmirched in coal dust and his eyes were a bright red. The boy was following by sight a bunch of white cap-clad young men being shepherded by a few policemen. His uncle, a keen wit, simply remarked they were in the garb of satyagrahis protesting against British, but, in reality, were seeking His Majesty’s prison to ensure they do not starve for a few days, not at all bothered by the hard looks of passers-by. Concerned at the sorry state of his nephew, the uncle hauled him off quick to his residence where an indulgent grandmother started right away to make him look presentable. The boy could not conceal his joy when he saw railway lines close to the house. During the summer vacation he was forever watching the trains plying to and fro throughout the day. All good days come to an end and, eventually, he was back in his home town to resume his humdrum life. The boy preserved the mutilated shirt as a talisman and guarded it fiercely from being worried by his siblings. One day his mother, unable to find the usual mop cloth, picked up the fragile shirt and wiped the rough floor of the house and reduced it to tatters. The boy, on discovering it, was disconsolate for some time and kept a frosty silence with his mother. Eventually, he made peace with her, after her profuse apology, tendered from time to time for her act of inconsideration, was accepted. This is not a figment of imagination, but an episode from the life of the author. Since that tender age, I had made many journeys in trains hauled by steam engines and my fascination for them has only grown more since they were phased out of operation. I am about to unfold history of steam engine none too briefly. After my previous posts, you all must expect something of the kind. I know it is a bitter pill to swallow but would compensate it with offerings of wonderful songs to bring smiles to your faces.

The beginning of the nineteenth century heralds the dawn of the Industrial Age in the western world. England, a leading power, was turning from agrarian to urban-based industrial society. Fast transport of raw material was a necessity;; ushering in innovations in technology and harnessing of steam power was one of them. Horse-drawn cars running on a pair of rails were already in common usage. They were used to haul coal from mines. James Watt, in 1781, patented a steam engine that produced continuous rotatory motion, a precursor to the development of steam locomotives. Richard Trevithick built a functional steam locomotive in United Kingdom, and, in 1804, the first rail journey commenced in South Wales. George Stephenson built the steam engine Locomotion for the Stockton and Darlington Railway in the UK in 1825. The first public rail journey commenced on 27th September 1825 from Darlington.

Locomotion hauled 31 wagons with about 500 passengers in coach or atop coal heaps in open wagons, starting at 12.30 PM and reached Stockton in 3 hours 7 minutes, clocking a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour, after a few hiccups en route, which ate up 55 minutes, to a rousing welcome by about 10,000 people. The train was led by a horseman holding a flag as a pilot. He had to dart away during the journey when the train gathered speed and he was left far behind. The total distance of eight and a half miles (14 kms.) was thus covered in 2 hours running time, achieving an average speed of 8 kms. Hailed as a success, a celebratory dinner was hosted in the evening at the Town Hall with 102 people participating in it. By 1827, it was a commercial success carrying huge amounts of coal from colliery to consuming centres, and the price of coal dropped steeply due to the economics achieved in transportation. Horses were still used to haul passenger cars on rails. They could haul up to four coaches. A cart known as Dandy Cart was attached at end. During down hill journeys, the horses were lodged in it and they also enjoyed a free transportation for a brief period. More than 30,000 passengers used the service during the period. (Source:

Steam engine_Union coach

The next major stage was the Rainhill trials. In 1829, Liverpool and Manchester Railway was nearly complete and the management held a contest to choose the best engine for operation. Ten locomotives were picked, but on the day of the trial, 6th October 1829, only five were in actual contest. A set of conditions were laid down. Rainhill trail was a flat plain journey of one mile and perfectly suited for the trial. The steam engine named Rocket, built by George and his son Robert Stephenson, completed the trial successfully while others fell away during the trial. Rocket averaged 12 miles an hour with a peak speed of 30 miles per hour hauling 13 tons freight and Stephensons were awarded prize money of 500 Sterling pound. They bagged the contract for building locomotives for the railway. Those interested to read in detail may kindly visit the site

Steam engine_Rainhill trials_Replica of Rocket

Suffice to say that railways progressed steadily and covered the whole of UK and the continent followed suit starting with Belgium in 1835. By 1850, almost all the countries in Europe had their own railway system in operation, carrying passengers and freight.  Britain had built 7000 miles of railroad, a stunning achievement, in a period of 25 years. The funeral cortege of the great war time Prime Minister of England, Sir Winston Churchill was hauled by a steam engine special in January 1965, when they had been retired from service long back in Britain. Here is a short video of the last journey from London to Blenheim Castle.

On the other side of the Atlantic the railway fever caught on in the young republic USA. Erie Canal was the first major transportation route. The boats were pulled by horses trotting on a parallel track by the side of the canal. In 1820s the port town of Baltimore was alarmed at the proposed expansion of the canal system. It meant oblivion in a commercial sense. The inspiration for survival was rail transport then flourishing in Britain. Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was born in 1828 with horse as the prime force. Realising its inadequacy for the terrain, steam engine was decided upon. By 1830, some thirteen miles of railway track had been extended from Baltimore. Peter Cooper of New York built the first steam engine in USA and christened it Tom Thumb, named after the midget actor in the P T Barnum Circus. The first railroad journey commenced on August 28, 1830, when a train pulled by Tom Thumb carried the directors of the railway and their friends for a distance of 13 miles to Elliott Mills at an incredible speed of 15 miles per hour. The journey was completed in less than an hour. The return journey was full of drama. Stagecoach magnates Stockton & Stokes operated horse drawn railway on a parallel track. A race between the two systems took place from Relay House en route. The horses drew ahead fast initially, but soon Tom Thumb showed its mettle and overtook the horse drawn coach. At a critical juncture, the engine broke down and the horse drawn coach managed to reach Baltimore just ahead of a racing Tom Thumb after repair. This did not prove a setback to steam traction as its full potential was realized then itself.

Steam engine_The Race

Steam engine_Tom Thumb

The superiority of the steam power was established beyond doubt and horse as a railway operator was abandoned much to the delight of the equine. From then on railway construction was on a boom. History of railway expansion in USA would make very interesting reading and readers are referred to an excellent book – Hear That Lonesome Whistle Blow by Dee Brown. By 1850s, over 9,000 miles of railways were under operation. At the start of the 1861-65 American Civil War, Union forces with a cohesive network of railways enjoyed a distinct advantage over Confederates and this factor also helped in their ultimate victory. For authentic details about the role of railways in the civil war, readers may kindly peruse the book Victory Rode the Rails by George Edgar Turner.

After the civil war the race to connect to the Pacific was on. Construction started from California and from east simultaneously. The junction of the converging railways was established and the last spike was driven (golden spike) with a silver hammer on May 10, 1869 at Promontory Summit, Utah and intercontinental journey started. Authentic photo of the event is shown below.

Steam engine_The first trans-continental railroad

Railways assisted in rapid population distribution and settlement over the country and indirectly helped USA to grow into a major power.

At the close of the nineteenth century, railways had been established throughout the world and was a major driving force of the economy during the first half of the twentieth century that followed.

The Lumiere brothers, Auguste and Louis, were the first film makers in history. They designed cinematograph, which combined camera with printer and projector and patented it in France and other countries in 1895. They were able to exhibit the pictures in public where many people could simultaneously sit and watch. Each film was 17 metres long and, when hand-cranked for exhibition, lasted approximately 50 seconds each. They held their first public performance at the Grand Cafe on Paris’s Boulevard de Capuchins in December 1895 for viewers who paid for the same. Ten strips were shown. Their film Arrival of a train at La Ciotat is the first motion picture in history. It showed the arrival of a train at the station. So realistic was the projection, many people who were in the hall viewing this picture ran out screaming as they feared they would be run over by the train. Here is the snippet of the same.

It is high time we had a look at the spread of railways in the Indian subcontinent.

By 1850, the East India Company was firmly in saddle and controlled large swaths of the Indian subcontinent. Proposals for start of railway system were in the air much before 1850, but the Governor General allowed private entrepreneurs to start construction only in 1844. The first experimental line to be laid was in Chintadiripet in Madras city in 1832. Next year it was extended by 5.6 kms. Credit for starting a regular rail service goes to Bombay region. Bori Bunder (Shivaji Terminus) was linked to Tannah (Thane) by the newly constructed railway line stretching 34 kms. (21 miles). On 16th April, 1853, Lady Falkland, wife of Governor of Bombay Presidency, along with 400 guests boarded the train at 3.30 PM. After a 21 gun salute and keen appreciation by the spectators present, it rolled out of Bori Bunder at 3.35 pm amidst belching smoke from three engines – Sahib, Sindh and Sultan – that shared the honour of the maiden run. The first halt was Byculla, a trading post named after a Portuguese King. Bombay, earlier known as Salsette Islands, belonged to Portuguese originally, but was given as a gift when King Charles II of Great Britain married Catherine Braganza, the Portuguese Princess. The king rented it to the East India Company. The next halt was Sion. Lots of bystanders stood on either side of the track and cheered as the train chugged away. The journey lasted for 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach Thane. I have reproduced two photos of the inaugural journey. I admit I did lot of tweaking of the original photos to improve them. Thus started the Great Indian Peninsular Railway. Thereafter, the expansion was rapid and by 1890 nearly 9000 miles of railways were laid linking the three major cities of those days, Bombay, Madras and Calcutta.

Steam engine_Inaugural journey_Bori Bunder to Thane

Maharajahs of many princely states, which dotted the sub-continent, built their own narrow gauge tracks in their domain. Most of them have been converted and a few remain idle. We have lost a lot of heritage tracks located in these erstwhile States by this senseless gauge conversion. Very little of narrow gauge is left. Here are a few photos of some vintage trains.

Steam engine_Futwa_Rupsa-Bangriposi

Some sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh used to bring cane from cane centres to the factory through rail and I have myself visited them. Here is a unique photo of the sugarcane special and the two elephants kept away from helping themselves to the sugarcane by the mahauts. What a colossal loss for us losing such heritage lines, which today could have been used as excursion lines minting huge revenue for the Indian railways.

Steam engine_Sugarcane special

The pride of Indian Railways are the three hill tracks connecting Shimla, Darjeeling and Udhagamandalam with the plains and they have been conferred heritage status by UNESCO. At one time, our fickle politicians were almost about to close them on the alleged ground of unprofitability, but their usual dilly-dallying ensured their survival to this day and they continue to enjoy great patronage by public. The railways are no doubt a principal mode of travel even today for average Indians. There are a lot of interesting facts about Indian Railways. Readers who have been bitten by the railway bug can download the application Rail Yatri and delve into the history of railway in our country. We can be proud of the fact that Fairy Queen certified as the oldest steam engine in working condition by Guinness still pulls a few coaches from Delhi Cantt. to Alwar between December and February every year. It was built in England in 1855 for broad gauge and did active service during the great uprising of 1857 in eastern region. Many You Tube videos are available. Here is one of the running engine. (The thumbnail in this article is of Fairy Queen.)

There are plenty of societies to preserve heritage tracks and run specials throughout the world and I myself have rode on a few of them in England, Australia and USA.

Considering that this blog is essentially a discussion forum for Hindi film songs, I have digressed a lot. I hold the opinion that the subject matter should be properly introduced before starting with songs linked to that. Steam engine is a fascinating subject and the interesting material available is too vast. Hereafter, I will confine my discussions to the songs.

Pictures based on or with railways as a part of the story were produced in Hollywood long before it was incorporated here in India in films. I am introducing a few scenes from films from west on the subject. I was lucky to come across a snippet from the 1923 film Our Hospitality. A replica of 1829 Rocket was fabricated to enact a scene. It is quite hair-raising to witness. If the railway journeys were anything like what has been exhibited, the passengers of yesteryears are to be greatly admired for their courage. Please have a look at it.

Thomas and his Friends series deals with adventures of the engine Thomas and others in the island Tidmouth based on the stories written by Reverend Wilbert Awdry and his son Christopher Awdry under the title “Railway Series”. It is very popular with children and brought out as a British children’s TV series. You tube has plenty of episodes based on the stories. Mainly meant for children, elders can also savour it. I am giving below the theme song which I find mesmerizing and never tired of hearing it again and again.

Here is another link for the original version of the theme song.

Next I come to another full length train film, The Great Train Robbery (1978), picturizing the actual robbery which took place in England in 1855. Four thousand pounds of gold meant to defray salaries of soldiers engaged in the Crimean War were stolen from the moving train and never recovered. The principal perpetrator was caught much later, and tried in court. But he escaped. Sean Connery is the main actor and it was filmed in Ireland. He had a harrowing experience negotiating travel up on the roof of the train and narrowly escaped being thrown down from the top. The speed of the train was to be around 20 miles per hour as prevalent in 1855, but in the actual filming it was much more. A full length novel has been written by the author of Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton.  The sympathy of the spectators who thronged the court was with the thief and they are very happy when he escapes. It is a great film to watch and is available on  You Tube here.

Another clipping on the subject from a series, The Adventures of GForce.

A classic fight on train top from the James Bond film Skyfall. James Bond is shot by mistake and falls into the river.

Now my conscience is pricking me for neglecting Indian films so far. To assuage it, I will hereafter deal with the Indian diaspora only.

I have seen very few Indian movies with railways as an active compliment. It will be a brief foray into a railway station to greet the returning hero or heroine from a metropolis or a few alighting at a way side station with pronounced rural setting to proceed to their destination in the waiting bullock or horse cart. Railway chase by horsemen was a common scene in many of the westerns produced in Hollywood. Such action thrillers were foreign to the Indian psyche. The first film I saw to show active combat aboard the train was Sholay and it was thoroughly enjoyable. In many ways the picture was a path breaker and remains a classic to this day with many pale imitations that followed. The fight against horse-borne dacoits chasing the train to loot is well shot. Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachan, in their role of petty thieves in prison off and on, tackle the dacoits when the inspector Sanjeev Kumar taking them for trial in the goods train trusts them and shoots their handcuff off. We have several minutes of intense action. Our heroes clash with the bad elements head on and save the train.  Here is the Sholay train sequence.

Now let us enjoy some train songs.

1. Duniya ye duniya Toofan Mail by Kanan Devi from Jawab (1942), lyrics Pandit Madhur, music Kamal Dasgupta

The film was produced at Indra Movietone Studio, Tollygunge, Calcutta by P C Barua after he left New Theatres. He paired with Kanan Devi in the film. The song was on the lips of one and all when the film was running. Kanan Devi has rendered it in her inimitable style. The song conveys an excellent philosophy of life and its transient nature. It is perfectly matched by the noise of the running train as background.  Towards the close, the train appears to be coming to a grinding halt in line with the philosophy expounded. The poor Toofan Mail is still limping around, shorn of its former glory between Sealdah and Sriganganagar nowadays. Other notable songs are Aye chaand chhup na jaana and Kuchh yaad rahe by the heroine herself. A good duet by Kanan Devi and Kamal Dasgupta Door desh ka rahanewala aaya is available as a live video.

2. Ayi bahar aaj ayi bahar by Pankaj Mullick & chorus from Doctor (1941), lyrics Arzoo Lakhanavi, music Pankaj Mullick,

I had already covered the story line of this film in my earlier post on Tongas in the Tinsel World. The film straightaway starts with this song. Doctor Amarnath (Pankaj Mullick) is returning home in the passenger train running on the Kalighat-Falta Line (closed in 1957) along with two comrades, obviously, after completing his studies. God has been kind to humans by denying them the power to divine the future and robbing them of peace of mind. Here the novice doctor is singing to high heaven praising the season and the value of human life. Spotting a few ladies staring at the moving train, he playfully hails them and one of the lady puts on her ghungat. So innocent and natural is the scene. He does not know what is in store for him. The song is top class and you can sense it is a train song. The background suggests puff and hiss of steam. His outburst is so spontaneous, he is unaware he is having a slender hold on the train and leaning far out admiring nature fleeting by, but slowly, because it is a branch line passenger train.

3. Hum chale watan ki ore from Kashinath (1943), lyrics Pt Bushan, music Pankaj Mullick

As usual very scant information is available on the movie even from the site IMDb. Asit Baran and Sunanda Banejee are the lead pair. This song finds a place in AK’s post on Forgotten actor-singer of New Theatres: Asit Baran (27 November 2012). The hero is returning home in the train and sings like a cuckoo. A typical tune from Pankaj Mullick. Part of the scene almost reflects what you can observe in the previous song.

4. Chhak chhak chali hamari rail by Geeta Dutt, Lata Mangeshkar & chorus from Naach (1949), lyrics Mulk Raj Bhakri, music Husnlal Bhagatram

A Suraiya and Shyam starrer, the film has come in for some praise from a commentator for its sweet solos and lilting dialogues. According to him, the acting by the lead pair was excellent. Neither the movie nor a live video is available. The song is quite catchy and the rail background is very prominent in the song. I am unable to identify the male singer. It is a group singing, but there is no doubt about the lead singer, i.e. Lata Mangeshkar.

5. Dhak dhak karti chali jeevan ki rail re by Geeta Dutt from Dilruba (1950), lyrics (?), music Gyan Dutt

Dev Anand and Rehana are the lead actors. A dancing troupe is travelling in the train and the dance rehearsal is carried out in the railway compartment with a solitary audience, probably the manager. I am unable to get information about who has penned this song in view of the multiplicity of lyrists – Rajendra Krishan, Neelkant Tewari, S. H. Behari and Butaram Sharma. How the lady dancer managed to get a firm footing and do her dance in a swaying train is not possible of deduction from the video. Gyan Dutt has composed a very pleasing number in the voice of Geeta Dutt. One of the accompanists is playing on the dilruba, but the tune does not display it at all. This is a common failing in many of the songs in our films.

6. Chal meri gadiye tu chhuk by Mohammad Rafi, Asha Bhonsle and Meenal Wagh from Ek Do Teen (1953), lyrics Aziz Kashmiri, music Vinod

The picture is a Shorey venture and the members of the clan are part of the shooting crew. Heroine Meena Shorey is an Associate Producer of the movie. Motilal is the hero and his side kick is Ratan Lal. Motilal is convicted of murdering Ratan Lal and is about to be hanged. Heroine discovers it is a hoax played and Ratan Lal is very much alive. She rescues him from gangsters and hurries to the station to go to Ambala with her friend Ms. Shama, who is the lady love of Ratan Lal, to save her lover. The trio miss the regular train and stumble upon an engine with three coaches idling in the yard. The driver informs Meena, it is off-duty being Sunday and explains the rudiments of driving to her. The train is hijacked by her with a yelling driver in pursuit. Ratan Lal knocks him down and clings to the train. Soon after, she is aghast at finding an empty coal tender. Ratan Lal purchases a firewood bundle from a peddler and also takes the axe for five rupees. He starts to break the wooden coach and passes on the wreck to be used as feed in the firebox. The  heroine merrily sings the song while taking the train along. The entire scene smacks of a slapstick comedy.

7. Rahi matwale tu chhed ek baar by Talat Mahmood and Suraiya from Waaris (1954), lyrics Qamar Jalalabadi, music Anil Biswas

Talat Mahmood acts as a hero in this film along with Suraiya. A familiar drama is being enacted and picturized in this song. The heroine runs away from home because of her father’s insistence on her getting married to a groom of his choice, but abhorrent to her, and boards a train to get away. There is the usual encounter with the hero. It starts with an argument but ends in rapprochement. More or less a similar scene is enacted in Solva Saal by Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman with a delectable solo by Hemant Kumar, Hai apna dil to awara. This song from Waaris is an iconic one and needs no introduction at all. There are three versions of the song in the film. The link below gives Talat-Suraiya’s happy duet and Suraiya’s sad solo.

8. Ye duniya rail niraali by Mohammad Rafi & chorus from Payal (1957), lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music Hemant Kumar

Sunil Dutt and Padmini are the main actors. Agha appears to be the comedian. This song is sung by the comedian in a railway compartment and is admired by a bevy of young girls crowding the compartment. Rafi’s voice is so wonderful and the song is sung in the way he alone can do it. The train journey is compared to the endless journey of the world, and how time slips by with people entering and exiting at their own time line. Hemant Kumar has composed a nice tune.

9. Auraton ke dabbe mein mard aa gaya by Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammad Rafi & chorus from Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh (1960), lyrics Prem Dhawan, music Hansraj Bahl

Bharat Bhushan and Anita Guha are the principal actors. The ladies are sleeping cosily in the moving train and one among them suddenly wakes up and is horror-struck to see a male figure lurking. They are, however, not cowed down. The intruder is buttonholed amidst the singing. He is accused of entering a ladies compartment. Mohammad Rafi starts the reply – Main to dhokha kha gaya. There is no serious accusation but the ladies are on warpath and aggressive in their tone. Rafi’s pleadings are very nicely sung. I am sure no other singer could equal him in this duet. The hero’s attempts at escape are frustrated. He is lifted bodily and thrown out of the train, but merciful providence has ensured no hurt as the train has slowed on entering the station, and from the platform Bharat Bhushan exclaims he does not agree that ladies are great. Hansraj Bahl has given a nice tune tailor-made for the situation.

10. Mere sapno ki rani by Kishore Kumar from Aradhana (1969), lyrics Anand Bakshi, music S. D. Burman

Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore fuse together as an organic whole and uplift the film to great heights. This film marked a turnaround in the fortunes of the singer Kishore Kumar, who was in doldrums till then and struggling hard to sustain himself in this cut-throat competitive field. His singing career took off like an aeroplane and, thereafter, he never looked back. For once the hero and heroine are staring at each other across a gulf, i.e. between the rail and the road. Sharmila is peeping from her window seat in the train, now and then, and Rajesh Khanna is putting the driver in peril by pressing hard against him while singing his heart out. The spectators are getting a rare chance to see the Siliguri-Darjeeling hill rail in operation and also the spectacular grandeur of the hill scenes that keep on unfolding. As usual, S.D. Burman has unleashed a delectable tune from his inexhaustible resources of the mind and Kishore Kumar has fully justified the faith imposed in him by the music director and inaugurated his comeback with a stellar performance.

11. Gaadi bula rahi hai by Kishore Kumar from Dost (1974), lyrics Anand Bakshi, music Laxmikant Pyarelal

Dharmendra and Hema Malini are the lead actors. The song is picturized on the hill railway between Kalka and Simla. The song forms a background while the film details are being shown. You get to see a nice portrayal of the journey up the hills without paying a fare. Now and then you can see Dharmendra sitting inside the compartment and admiring the scene around him and also, frequently, pulling out some letter and pocketing it. The song is well-known and Kishore Kumar renders it as expected of him, but in a sedate manner without any roller-coaster effect.

12. Hum dono do premi by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle from Ajnabee (1974), lyrics Anand Bakshi, music R. D. Burman

Rajesh Khanna and Zeenat Aman have hijacked a ride on the sly in an open wagon train conveying hay. They are rolling in the hay merrily and indulging in love singing.

13. Hathon ki chand lakeeron ka by Anwar and Suresh Wadkar from Vidhata (1982), lyrics Anand Bakshi, music Kalyanji Anandji

This song is a duet from the hotplate of the steam engine. It is a conflict between the two actors – Dilip Kumar and Shammi Kapoor – one stressing on ‘tadbir’ while the other on ‘taqdeer’ as the life-driving force. Easy answer is not likely as life is too complicated to conform to any pattern.

14. Kasto mazza he relaima, Ye hawaayein gungunaayein by Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal & chorus from Parineeta (2005), lyrics Swanand Kirkire, music Shantanu Moitra

Saif Ali Khan is strumming the guitar and a group of children start as a chorus with the first word of the song. It is obviously not in Hindi, but could be Gorkha language, as the children in the scene look very much like they are of Nepalese origin. The train seems to be practically deserted. I suspect it is a special organized by the producers to catch this scene. They forgot to introduce more passengers to ensure a sense of realism. Saif sees the heroine, Vidya Balan, in his imagination plucking tea-leaves in tea-garden outside, and then in the compartment gathering papers.  We are treated to a grand feast of nature. The toy train snaking upwards, negotiating sharp curves, is also a delight to the eyes.

I hope that blog followers will be satisfied with my effort on presenting this topic in a meaningful way. The subject is too vast and fascinating and the amount of material available is quite extensive. It is again a dig into the past as train has ceased to be a major travel mode particularly in the west where cars have overtaken railways as a means of commuting long back. Fortunately in India rail travel is still a major artery of the economy and will remain so for quite a long time. I have attempted to introduce some songs picturized as a part of train travel. looking forward to valuable inputs from the readers.

{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ksbhatia January 1, 2017 at 9:29 am

Rangan ji;
What a journey to start with in the new year . First it was horses , then tongas and now majestic locomotive train rides from economy to superlative train ride .
Gone thru the article hurridly , will come back again after a thorow tutorial of this techno charm.
Meanwhile a song to start with…

Dhhonden tujhko nain deewane…..Lata, MK…Madan Mohan…..Jab yaad kisi ki aati hai

2 Shachindra Prasad January 1, 2017 at 2:11 pm

Rangan Sahab,
I salute you for the wonderfully musical and well researched article on steam engines. I will go through it again and again.
Thanks to Songs of Yore for such an informative and interesting piece of history.

3 AK January 1, 2017 at 2:19 pm

Shachindra Prasad,
Welcome to SoY and thanks a lot for your appreciation.

4 Jignesh Kotadia January 1, 2017 at 6:15 pm

i ditto Bhatiaji’s comment..really grand opening of the new year with a well researched article. The iconic song Toofan Mail really clicks first when you think about train songs..all other songs are good. you couldnt find any from early or mid sixties !?
14 from you 14 from me :

1. Tumhari bhi jay jay hamaari bhi jay jay (Deewana,1967)

2. Hai apna dil to awara, na jane kis pe aayega (Solva saal,1958)

3. Badal jaaye agar maali, chaman hota nahin khaali (Bahaaren phir bhi aayegi,1966)

4. Jiya ho jiya ho jiya kuchh bol do (Jab pyar kisi se hota hai,1962)

5. Pyar baant’te chalo (Hum sab ustad hai,1965)

6. Chil chil chillake kajri sunaye (Half ticket, 1962)

7. Jawaani ki rail chali jaaye re (Shehnai,1947)

8. Gaya andhera hua ujaala
chamka chamka, subah ka tara (1954)

9. Apni nazar se door ho (Baazar,1949)

10. Mai chali mai chali (Professor,1962)

The Burning Train(1980) songs
11. Teri hai zameen tera aasman

12. Pal do pal ka saath hamaara

13. Hoga tumse pyara kaun (Zamaane ko dikhana hai,1981)

and from 90’s
14. Chal chhaiya chhaiya (Dil Se,1998)

5 D P Rangan January 1, 2017 at 6:36 pm


Many thanks for your appreciation. A happy new year to you and your family. I expect you to add a cartload of songs, enough to make a whole chain of goods train.

Prasadji fully appreciate your endorsement of the post. Will await your further comments after further scrutiny.

6 D P Rangan January 1, 2017 at 6:55 pm

Sorry to have not mentioned the singer of song No. 3. It is sung by the hero Asit Baran himself who is shown in the video.

7 Ravindra Kelkar January 1, 2017 at 7:11 pm

DP Ranganji,
Such a wonderful start to 2017. Just superb. I also have a similar fascination regarding train journey. The information as well as old footage of railways is amazing. Hats off to you sir!!!

8 Shekhar January 2, 2017 at 6:19 am

DP Ranganji,
Thanks for this well-researched a great post.
Rail songs remind me of two more numbers: (i) The iconic “Aao Bachcho.n Tumhe.n Dikhaaye.n Jha.nki Hindustan Ki” from Jagriti (1954) [on YouTube at, and (ii) The stirringly patriotic “Hei.n Abhi Aur Ae Dil Tere Imtehaa.n” from Shaheed Bhagat Singh (1963) [on YouTube at

9 D P Rangan January 2, 2017 at 9:44 am

Thanks for the review by you. I did have a few songs from your list. I tried to ensure posting of songs actually picturising railway journey or background suggesting it is a railway song. Will listen to your posts while compiling a master list. Pour more songs.

Extremely pleased to find a fellow rail traveller. Anyday I will prefer a rail journey to air. You can see the countryside so well from a railway window. Best views are from sleeper 3 tier ordinary and not AC coaches where you are boxed in with hazy dirty glass windows to look through.

Thanks for the kind views. Will listen to the songs you posted.

10 D P Rangan January 2, 2017 at 10:35 am

You tube for the Great Train Robbery is a short episode covering Sean Cannery journey up the compartment. I am giving further three links which will complete the sequence. Urge all to look at them in that order.

The complete movie in 12 parts can be seen from the following link

The book written by Michael Crichton is a must read to appreciate what a master criminal was the man who engineered this. He solved all difficulties in the way including a major one which just cropped two days before the heist. E book version is available. If anyone is interested I can send it to him.

11 N.S.Rajan January 2, 2017 at 11:34 am

Well done. A good and varied selection on the basic theme. Naturally, some omissions, only to be expected when there are so many of this genre in the over 80 years of Bollywood Music. I can think of a few more, not necessarily to replace, but only to supplement:

Basti basti parbat parbat gaata jaaye banjara. Railway Platform (Sunil Dutt’s debut movie.

Apni toh har aah ek toofan hai. Kala Bazaar

Pal do pal ka saath hamara. The Burning Train

Hun dono do premi. Ajnabee

Hoga tumse pyara kaun. Zamaane ko dikhana hai.

12 Raghavan Vasudevan January 3, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Thank you Rangan ji for flagging off to a great journey of 2017 which begins with your showing article beautifully worded and a lot of information on Rails.

Train journey bring back memories of our child hood days, when we
we were young and school. Those great moments linger on with us though vaguely. Your article brought back those bygone era of our
life. Thanks.

One song that miss the list is the Mere Huzoor train number the tile song

13 mumbaikar8 January 3, 2017 at 2:03 pm

DP Ranganji,
I too have a fascination for railway, am haunted by the whistle of train and love the sound of the moving trains. Wish there was some implementation of “Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan” in Indian Railways so travelling by 3 tier as suggested by you in comments would be a pleasant experience.
Going through the write up needs marathon effort shall do it later. . खत जान सकते है लिफाफा देख कर I am sure it will be very interesting experience
Enjoyed AK’s as well as your introduction and songs compilation. you have very nicely presented a bouquet of some rare and some popular songs.
Two songs I would add that Jignesh has not yet added
I love the RD Gulzar song and Gulzar’s picturization too
Dhanno ki aankhon me from Kitab
And this Masaan song good poetry and amazingly effective
Tu kis rail si guzarti hai

You have rightly said “One couldn’t ask for a better New Year gift. ”
thank you and happy new year.

14 D P Rangan January 3, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Thanks for the kind words you had penned. I had a few of those songs in my list, but tried to post those sung while aboard the train as far as possible. The first song did not fit the bill, but still I had to choose as it clearly shows it is a song based on train.


Happy to note you also love train journeys. The song you mentioned is by Mohammad Rafi. Music by Shankar Jaikishan , lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri and it is a 1968 movie.

15 D P Rangan January 3, 2017 at 2:47 pm

Thanks for the appreciation. AK is a master foreward writer and his brief write up contains a world of meanings than my lengthy wanderings. Do go through the post and give your detailed assessment. The first song from Kitab is very good. The second one would not qualify as a railway song according to me. It is sung on the road and a mere mention of rail in the first line.

16 mumbaikar8 January 3, 2017 at 3:01 pm

D P Ranganji,
I would respectfully beg to differ from your statement that rail is mere mention in first line I felt that, that first line is the crux of the song, but it is your article and your opinion matters!

17 Giri January 3, 2017 at 4:41 pm

You are not only good at research; you are a good raconteur as well. Your narration of your first train journey is almost like seeing it as it happened. I was also fascinated by train journey during my childhood.
Thank you for an excellent post.
I am not familiar with older songs (pre ’50). Later songs make good choices. As usual the experts add more numbers and embellish it.

18 AK January 3, 2017 at 5:58 pm

Thanks for your appreciation and wishing you a very Happy Near Year too.

19 AK January 3, 2017 at 6:00 pm

DP Rangan,
You have been extremely generous in praising my few lines of introduction. Thanks a lot.

20 arvindersharma January 4, 2017 at 8:32 am

AK Ji and All Dear SoY friends,
Wishing You a Very Happy New Year
DP Rangan Ji.
What a wonderful post evoking the nostalgia of a bygone era, with the details that I found difficult to read fully, can’t even imagine coming up with the dream of writing
You have covered many vintage era songs, lovely all of them, along with some from later popular ones. Jignesh has also added aplenty, all favourites. Two good songs have been added by Shekhar Ji, along with some more by regulars.
As usual, I’ll try to add some more to the post, hoping they’ll be liked.

Kaya ki rail Nirali by Prem Adobe and Pratima Devi from Station Master composed by Naushad

Chali jaye Jeewan ki rail by Suman Kalyanpur and Badri Pawar from Royal Mail composed by Avinash Vyas

Dekh tere sansar ki haalat kya ho gayi Bhagwan by Pandit Pradeep from Nastik composed by C Ramchandra

Dekho Ji ok Bala jogi by Rafi from Chinatown composed by Ravi

Dil Mera hai deewana by Asha Bhonsle from Shart composed by Hemant Kumar

Na bhanwara Na koi Gul by Rafi and Asha from Aarti composed by Roshan

Ye rang bhare baadal by Rafi and Asha from Tu Nahi Aur Sahi composed by Ravi

Will be back again

21 arvindersharma January 4, 2017 at 8:39 am

My apologies for the mix up of the two links posted above
Link no 3 and 5 have been interchanged due to my negligence

22 ASHOK M VAISHNAV January 4, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Great journey to begin on day 1 of the year., thanks to Ranaganji and SoY.

Here is a song that vicariously describes the mesmerizing effect the trains had on a child’s mind.
A matter of trvia:
The child artist is the future heroin – Rajshree, daughter of V Shantaram – Jayshree.

23 Kavita Jain January 4, 2017 at 2:09 pm

Nice post ….
thanx for sharing

24 ksbhatia January 4, 2017 at 6:32 pm

AK , Rangan ji[s] ;

Sholey was really a landmark in production with technical brilliance .Cinematography with razor sharp and crystal clear images were matchable with the best of hollywood movies of the west. The director of photography , Dwarka Diweacha , was 70 years old when he did this marvelous film . The Train sequence were really the master craftsman’s magic touch .

There are two brilliant sequences in Ganga Jamuna as well . One , the emotional scene where Dilip Kumar is seeing off his brother at the railway platform . This emotional sequence is beautifully captured by the ace cinemotographer V. Babasaheb ., and off course amazing acting by Dilip sahib . The second sequence of brilliance is the action scenes between the Police and Dacoits trying to loot the train .

Both Dwarka diweacha and V. Baba saheb were ace photographers of the big banner production houses of the 50’s and 60’s thru 70s as well.

In the late 30s thru 40s and 50s , there were ample classic action based stunt movies that were dominated by Homi Wadia Productions ,. Wadia Bros , Basant Pictures , Wadia Movietones and many others . Of all the action movies Two movies stands apart for their action scenes and those are……Miss Frontier Mail [1936 , the famous fearless Nadia film ]and Captain Sheeroo [50s ?] . In Miss Frontier Mail ,The fighting scenes atop the train are worth watching again and again . In Captain Sheeroo , the dare devil scene where hero is saving child from the rail track by two hands and himself glued cross legged to engine’s front grill , is truly amazing .

The hollywood produced a number of Train themed action movies . My personal bests are ….The Train [1964] and Von Ryan Express . Here is a short action scene from The Train.

There has been quite a number of films produced in the 50s and 60s with themes quite close to railways , like , Staition Master, Railway Platform , Rail Ka dibbaa etc. , but they did’nt carried the theme based songs . To fill the gap here are some songs related to the theme .

1.Chuk chuk rail chali…..Asha ….Sone ki Chidiyaa….OPN

2.Rail mein jiya mora…..Raj Khosla….Aankhen [1950] ….MM

3.Rail Gaadi rail gaadi chuk chuk…..Ashok Kumar…Aashirwaad…Vasant Desai

4.Pehli nazar mein…Usha, Asha, Rafi, Kishore….The Burning Train..RDB

5. Jiya ho jiya kuchh to bol do….Rafi …Jab pyar kisi se hota hai…SJ

6.Dil thaam chale hum aaj kidhar….Rafi…Love in Shimla…Iqb. Qureshi

… be contd……

25 Hans January 4, 2017 at 7:53 pm

Rangan ji,
This is a topic which is close to the heart of all. I had a lot of experiences in trains, which can even be put in a medium sized book. But there was an incident which I remembered after watching the second song in which a woman puts on her ghunghat. When I was in college we were going to another city to play a cricket match. The train had just started off from a station which came in the middle of the journey. Two-three of our team members were standing on the gate and some of us were watching from the windows. One of the boys, who was very naughty threw a salute towards a middle-aged person who was going on a cycle on the track close to the lines. That person was mighty pleased and raised his hand to reply to the salute and in the process lost balance and almost fell from his cycle. But he had a surprise in store, because as soon as he regained the balance, the same naughty boy made a vulgar gesture, which infuriated that person, but he could do nothing because by that time the train had gained speed. This was a funny aspect of life. But there was a tragic aspect connected with trains and when young, I had to attend funeral of a neighbour who ended his life by jumping before the train.

I very much liked the songs post by you as well as by others. Jignesh and Sharmaji have posted many gems. Some have been posted by new entrants Rajan and Shekhar. Mumbaikar8 has posted one of the two rail songs from Kitab and Vaishnavji has posted the hilarious song from Subah Ka Tara. Most of my list have been covered. But, I will post a few.

1. aaj is nagri kal us nagri – naya zamana – rafi
2. sang sang rahenge tumhare ji huzoor – mulzim – rafi
3. ek musafir ko duniya men kya – door ki awaz – rafi
4. jaan bachi so lakhon paaye – sanjog – shyam kumar

You have mentioned some English films and said that their was lack of action scenes in Hindi films. One of the reasons is that there were very few action films in old days, but later when some action heroes emerged some scenes were picturised. There is a long action scene of about 15 minutes in Dharmendra film Aadmi aur Insaan and a smaller in his Jugnu. A combo of these scenes was enacted in The Great Gambler in which Amitabh had a double role. The film Jaal, the Trap (2005) has a very long action scene with automobiles replacing horses picturised in a moving train.

Though the old hindi films lacked action scenes, but their were many films which had stories closely connected to rails. I am mentioning some of them which I remember. There was Achhut Kanya in which Devika Rani played the daughter of a person who was posted on a chowki on railway phatak and later she was married to a person of the same rank and she lost her life when she was run over by a train for saving life of others. There was a film named Rail Ka Dibba in which story revolves around life in an abandoned rail coach for quite a large part of the film. There was this film Station Master, a song from which has been posted by Sharmaji, story of which revolved around a station master. There was also a similar film on the life of a station master Ajnabee (Rajesh Khanna) from which you have posted a song. In this film he is accused of the murder of a lady passenger who missed the train and was offered night stay in his quarters. Rajesh Khanna also acted in a film The Train in which a murder in the train is investigated and a number of train scenes follow. Ek Ruka Hua Faisla, Mere Humdum Mere Dost and Oonche Log also deal with murders in train. Dharmendra’s Phool aur Patthar also has action scenes with moving trains. Also, everybody knows about The Burning Train.

So, you see there are many films on the topic of trains, which you may not know because your language is not hindi.

26 ketaki January 5, 2017 at 6:29 am

Wow…. What an information…

Thanks for a very well researched article.

just found some songs missing from the “Railway Songs” which are iconic in themselves

1) “Ustad Pedro” 1951 – Dil ka ye engine sitiya mare aaja sajan aaja line clear hai…. sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Ramchandra Chitalkar, Lyrics by Raja Mehendi Ali Khan, Music by C. Ramchandra.
2) “Shehnai” 1947 – Jawani ki rel chali jaye re – sung by Geeta Dutt, Lata and Chitalkar. Lyrics by P. L. Santoshi and Music by C. Ramchandra.
3) “Subah ka taara” – 1954 – Gaya andhera Hua Ujala, chamka chamka subha ka taara, Sung by Lata and Talat Mehmood, Lyrics by Noor Lukhnavi, Music by C. Ramchanra.

Ketaki Salkar (Manjiri)

27 AK January 5, 2017 at 9:35 am

Welcome to Songs of Yore, and thanks a lot for these additions.

28 D P Rangan January 5, 2017 at 11:43 am

Mumbaikar8 @16
I do not treat any post written by me and uploaded by the blog master as mine. It is meant for the community at large. I merely stated my opinion. It is not final. I respect you for your reasons. Nothing more to add except to request you to enrich the blog with your knowledge.

29 D P Rangan January 5, 2017 at 11:47 am

Thanks for your outpourings for my effort. As expected you had added songs at an express speed. I was struggling to get a few songs and here I find a deluge. That is knowledge which I do not possess in locating songs on themes. Most of the songs I stumble upon. Eagerly awaiting further additions.

30 D P Rangan January 5, 2017 at 11:52 am

Thanks for your optimistic view of the current year. The song you added is indeed very refreshing as sung by the little girl. In some Tamil movies, I have seen kid sisters pulling the leg of their elder brother and his would be wife. Here the song refers to the travails of a fat girl not being able to get into a narrow train. Most apt for this theme.

31 D P Rangan January 5, 2017 at 11:59 am

Your encyclopedic knowledge of movies is really astounding. Indeed great cinematography uplifts a film. Thanks for the first lot of additions. Expect more before the next post pushes this into relegation.

Thanks for the views expressed and the songs added.

Welcome to SoY on behalf of AK. Very much appreciate your comments on the post.

32 D P Rangan January 5, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Thanks for the lengthy comments, which is the norm coming from you. I hold you in deep regard for your erudition and the song list which you can compile on any topic at once. I will listen to all the songs and they will be part of the master list I will compile.

You must still be spending lot of time in cinema halls or seeing them from the comfort of the easy-chair at the residence. I have not seen movies in ages and do not expect to do so hereafter. Of late it seems action scenes are being included in movies. I will try to see these movies if they are available in you tube when next I go to USA as internet speeds here do not allow such luxuries. After I returned from USA late November it took more than a month to restore internet by MTNL. I am looking for more comments from you.

33 Ashwin Bhandarkar January 5, 2017 at 5:52 pm

No write-up on train journeys in Hindi movies would be complete without a mention of this iconic scene from Pakeezah:

Also, the raucous sound of the train horn brings the lovely ‘Chalte chalte’ song to an end in the same movie:

34 ksbhatia January 6, 2017 at 9:49 am

Ashwin ji;

Many thanks for this beautiful reminder . So perfect fit to the theme . A class shots with outstanding directional touches ; and so also the rhythm of the train and beautiful body swaying to the heart beats of the beholder followed by alarming sound of the whistle of the engine .

Continuing with the theme songs…..

7. Yeh duniya rail nirali…..Rafi…Payal[1957]…..Hemant Kumar

8.Mujhe apna yaar banalo….Rafi…Boy friend….SJ

9.Jane wale sipahi se poochho….Mana dey….Usne Kaha Tha…Salil Chd….

10. Ek matwala aahi chala….Rafi…..Aap ki parchhaiyan….MM

… be contd….

35 Shalan Lal January 6, 2017 at 11:17 am

The first paragraph of graphic childhood memory is written as if a script for the Director and cameraman. This reminds me the script of the Attenborough Film Gandhi. It introduces the film like your childhood memoir. Better undertake writing short and long stories and also novels. You have got the pen for the literature.
This also reminds that you should not have excluded the film Gandhi as he used a lot to travel to understand India. Gandhi also praised British for uniting India by railways. He further said that the railways made all kinds of Indians to sit eat drink and travel and talk together. Before the railways was not possible as Indian people were divided into multi castes, religions, languages etc.
Railways presented a romantic dream about other places. The film “Sanjog” 1961 presented the restlessness of a Country youth to get to Bombay . Pradip Kumar gets obsessed by the passing trains and their whistling. He eventually abandons his girlfriend Anita Guha and reaches Bombay and meets incredible Mr Om Prakash. He goes through numerous bad experiences and eventually returns to his girlfriend. music by Madan Mohan. All songs are sweet. “Chala Chal Tu Kahna?” is recurring song. There is one master piece song of MM “Woh Bhuli Dastan…..” This film tells the effects of railways on the country people and their style of life. The film “Gaban” also has similar view.
Another important book is not mentioned. That is “Bhavani Junction” written by John Marshaal and directed by George Cukor and well-acted by Ava Gardner. It won Bafta award. The film was not allowed to be shot in India due the nationalists in India raised two points about the loyalty of the Anglo Indians who mainly were employed by the British and second there was a character who criticised Gandhi. But the film centred on saving Gandhi as Indian extremes were engaged in bombing the railways systems. A wonderful book gives picture about the Indian politics and life around the Indian railways. There was another film in Hindi called Bhavani Junction but it had nothing to do with the English film.
Your post is very well researched about the beginning of the railways but not so much about the Indian railways in the nineteen and twentieth centuries. The runaway children living in the trains and railway stations needed to be mentioned. Similarly many railway-stations were loving looked after by the stationmaster as mentioned in the “Malgaudy Days”
The “Wheelers Book-Stalls” at the most of the stations came along with the built stations, Stations themselves showed special architects as well according to the town and cultures of the people. Howdah Bridge needed to be mentioned.
Shalan La

36 ksbhatia January 7, 2017 at 7:12 pm

Ms. Shalan Lal , Rangan ji ;

There are ” Malguady Days ” in every one lives . The first sight itself is amazing when you see the engine , bogies , track, platform , the railway station ….its beautiful archetectural design …high roofs in foyers with ample space to move around….multiple arches of exposed bricks , laid neatly in english and flemish bonds , covering the column and walls giving it a very impressive welcome sign for the first time traveler and indicating the surprises that is there in design of wooden bogies , comforts and the nice smell they carry of the freshly cut wood .[ In 50s the inner body of bogies were made of wood .]. New Delhi was practically ” No polution zone ” during 50s ; as such you can relive your memories recalling perfumes and smells.

My first ride was in 1952 [ I was 6 years old ] when my father planned summer holiday to Massoorie . The ride was from Old Delhi Railway Station to Dehradoon ; follwed by equally amazing Station Wagon [ Chevorlet ] ride thru the beautiful mountains to our destination Massoorie .

During mid 60s I was sent for training to Talwara for the then ongoing Beas Dam Project . The famous Bhakra Dam , having been completed and commissioned for the irrigation and hydropower generation , all the engineering staff , men and material along with heavey machineries were transported to Talwara township , specially made to accomodate the entire staff and construction material and plants of Bhakra Dam . As the township was 35 km away from the dam site , special meter gauge rail track was laid in this reach to cut the time loss on transportation . There were three shifts of 8 hours each for skilled persons to work round the clock . In a way the idea of using rail worked wonders for the Beas Dam Project .

Coming back to cinema , that holds Rail as its fascinated attractions , are many . David Lean was one film maker of the hollywood that influenced many . He was perfectionist to the minutest details . Here are three clips from his films that holds this tag.

1. Come on men……Lawrence of Arabia …… 1962

2.The train jumper….Dr Zhivago…….1965

3.Marabar Express ride……A Passage to India……1984

There are un ending such scenes which can one recall . My child hood fav. are from Jerry louise and Dean Martin western movies .

A novel …..Train to Pakistan … Khushwant Singh was published in 1956 . It recounts the 1947 partition of India , its social and political impact etc.. The movie by the same name was made in 1999 which brought some recognition abroad too.

Samjhauta Express was started in 1976 as a follow up of the ”Shimla accord ” between India and Pakistan . It runs from Delhi to Lahore and back via Wagga / Attari border for immigration checks .

To get a feel of this border , here is my from Veer Zara . Sharp ear listeners will note that the sad prelude of this song is from the happy prelude of another Madan Mohan song…..Kadam bahke behke jiya dhadk dhadk jaye……from Bank Manager .

Do pal ruka khwabon ka karwan……Veer Zara….Madan Mohan

…….will come back with more rail songs .

37 Subodh Agrawal January 8, 2017 at 1:19 am

Dear Mr Rangan, you have created a post that is worth preserving as a permanent work of reference by anyone fascinated by trains. All children have this fascination, but in some like me that fascination persists into adulthood. Even today I prefer a train journey to taking the plane, provided it is not too long – about 4-5 hours by day, or an overnight journey is my limit. I do dream of taking one of those luxury train holidays in India or abroad, if and when my pocket allows.

You have listed some the best songs on the theme. Mr Bhatia, Mr Kotadia and Mr Arvinder Sharma have beaten me to everything else I could remember, and provided tons more. ‘Railgaadi chhuk chhuk’ was a childhood favourite along with ‘Nani ki nao chali’. They used to come on AIR’s ‘Bachchon ka program’ in Harindranath Chattopadhyay’s voice long before they were taken in Aashirwad.

38 Ashwin Bhandarkar January 8, 2017 at 6:53 am

Another iconic scene from Indian cinema – the train scene from Pather Panchali:

39 Ashwin Bhandarkar January 8, 2017 at 7:03 am

Shalan Lal’s comment reminded me of these two scenes from ‘Gandhi’:

The sitar music playing in the background of the second clip is in Raga Tilak Kamod.

40 Shalan Lal January 8, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Subodh Agrwal @ 37 and others as well

Many people do not know who was Harindranath Chattopadhyay. He appeared in many Hindi films as character actor and I think in “Tere Ghar Ke Samane” as well.

He was multitalented person and one of the brothers of great Sarjoni Naidu. He wrote more poems than her famous sister in English. His father a very famous scintist but a bit mad person believed in making gold from the baser material.

All his brothers and sister wer forbidden to talk in Bengali but either in English and Urdu/Hindi.

After the death of Tagor Sarojini was inivted to make the funeral speech. She talked in Englsih and said she had no knowedge of the Bengali langauge and could not read any of the Tagore’s poems. But she said Tagore always contacted her when he was alive.

Sarjoni was the one who was groomed for the Nobel Prize but last minutes the English poets who were backing her decided Tagore was more qualified due to the spiritualism in the Geetanjali.

I liked Sarojini’s Poetry very much. It is not Indian English but English- English.

Shalan Lal

41 ksbhatia January 8, 2017 at 5:33 pm

Harindranath chattopadhyay was a good comedian actor and singer as well . I liked his comic role pitted against Om Prakash in Tere Ghar ke Samne . The Goldie dialogues were tummy ache qualities , specially in club scenes . Harindranath also appeared in Aashirwad and Bawarchi . In Bawarchi he played Hungal’s father and sang a song along with many Manna Dey , Kishore and others.

In real life I think he was bachelor and had passion of writing poems and short stories . For British audience he wrote english version lyrics of two songs …..Hum Kaale hai to kya hua….and….Baharo phool barsaao….. which Rafi sang before the audience .

Here are the same…..

1. Hum kaale hain…..[ The She I ….]

2. Baharo phool barsaao…..[ Although we hail from….]

42 ksbhatia January 8, 2017 at 5:56 pm

Ashwin Bhandarkar @39;

Both the visual clips are great . The stunning deportation scene makes basis of struggle for independent india and rest is history . The second visual and background music are marvelous. Sitar used symbolise slow paced life , even riding a fast moving train and violin used , instead of whistle , for showing the pathetic conditions of the fields and the poorly clad workers. If I am not wrong the background score for Gandhi was by the great Ravi Shankar. Great work of a great Director …..Sir Richard Attenburough.

43 Subodh Agrawal January 9, 2017 at 1:24 am

Thanks Shalan Lal for the information on Harindranath Chattopadhyay. I was not aware of the Sarojini Naidu connection.

Another film in which he figured was ‘Raat aur Din’ – Nargis’s comeback film for which she won the national award for best actress. Unfortunately she didn’t survive long after that.

44 ksbhatia January 9, 2017 at 9:33 am

Rangan ji ;

Continuing the theme songs from @34….

11. Duniya isi ka naam hai….Mukesh, Sharda…Duniya….SJ

12. Kar bhalla hoga bhalla…..Mukesh…Tangewala….Naushad

13.Hum bhi musafir……Rafi….Khazana……LP

14.Yahi to hai mera…..Sabita Chowdhury….Jeena Yahan….Salil Chd.

15. Ek anadi junglee janwar….Asha….Man ka Meet….Ravi

….to be contd…..

45 Shalan Lal January 9, 2017 at 11:29 am

Subodhji, @ 43 KSBhatiyaji @41 and others.

Bhatiaji’s memory of the films of “Tere Ghar Ke.. and Bawarchi” are great. Harindranath was a very good actor with rich talents. In “Tere Ghar Ke..” I like the comic talents of RajendraNath. His comedy act was out of the world for the Hindi films of the time. In Bawarchi which was made or inspired by the Hollywood fim “Sitting Pretty” Rajesh Khanna was a superb actor and kept the film going nicely.

Shalan La

46 peddadu January 11, 2017 at 8:22 am

Shalan ji @45,
In fact Bawarchi was remake of the Bengali film ‘Golpo holeo sattyi’ (1966), made by the famous Bengali film-maker Tapan Sinha (writer-director for this film), with a few changes in the Hindi film (directed by Hrishikesh Mukherji). The Bengali version might have been partially inspired by ‘Sitting pretty’, as the story for the America film was huge.
Ref: for the Bengali flm. for the English film

47 Shalan Lal January 11, 2017 at 10:15 am

peddadu @ 46

I had seen many times “Sitting Pretty” and also when the Bawarchi was released an English weekly mentioned the “Sitting Pretty” in its connection and not the Bengali film.

Both the films “Bawarchi” and “Sitting Pretty” are well acted and funny in parts and educative in the rest. There was something on that line in the film “Chacha Chaudhari” as well. That was very good as well.

Shalan Lal

48 ksbhatia January 13, 2017 at 11:01 am

Rangan ji ;

Continuing from songs @44 , here are a few more…..

16. Dilli se rail gaadi chhuk chhuk ayegi…..Rafi, Lata…Suhaag Sindoor….Chitragupt

17.jawani ki rail….Shabir , ?….Coolie….LP

18. kut kut bajra mein [ saadi rail gadi ayi]….punjabi folk song in ….Dushmani dee aag

….to be contd….

49 N Venkataraman January 13, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Thank you for an informative read and a very well written article on steam engines and railways. Enjoyed the collection of popular and enjoyable songs posted by you. The narration of your first train journey was absorbing. I am sorry I could not join you in time for the first journey of the year.

SoY regulars like Bhatiaji, Arvinderji, Hansji and Jignesh and others have added many more wonderful songs and would listen to them at leisure. Besides the songs, they have also provided additional interesting information. Thanks to Shalanji too for her erudite comments. Let me too chip in.

In 1934 a film by the name Toofan Mail was released under the Ranjit Movietone banner. The oldest stunt scene on top of railway bogies in a Hindi film, that I can trace back, was from Miss Frontier Mail (1936). Here is the clip (from 00:50)

Let me add a few songs now
Ye Hain Jeewan Ki Rail, by Kishore Kumar, film Mahlon ka Khwab (1960) lyrics Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, music S Mohinder

This song may not fit the bill, yet….
Jawani ki rail chali jaye re by Geeta Dutt, Lata Mangeshkar, C Ramchandra, film Shehnai (1947), lyrics Pyarelal Santoshi, music C Ramachandra

Here are a few songs from other regional films,

Two good songs from Punjabi film
Chak Chak Ghadi Chal de Jandi by Md. Rafi, film Mama Ji (Punjabi/1964), lyrics Verma Malik, music S.Madan

Dana Paani Khich Ke Liyanda by Md.Rafi, film Guddi (Punjabi/1961), lyrics Verma Malik/ Aziz Kashmiri (?), music Hansraj Behl

The next one from a Bengali film
Chuk Chuk Chuk Chuk Railgari by Manna Dey & Sabita Chowdhury film Srikanter Will(Bengali/ 1979) lyrics and music Salil Chowdhury

Now one from a Tamil film
Olimayamana Ethirkalam En Ullathil by T.M.Soundararajan, film Pacchai Vilakku (Tamil/ 1964), lyrics Kannadasan, music M S Vishwanathan

And back to a couple of songs from Hindi films.
Jhuk Jhuk Jhuk Rail Chale by Sunil Kumar and chorus, Children’s film Udanchoo (1976), lyrics Shivendra Sinha, music Salil Choudhury

And the final one
Dhanno ki ankhon mein by R D Burman, film Kitab (1977), lyrics Gulzar, music R D Burman

Thanks Ranganji once again for bringing back those nostalgic moments of our early life.

50 Shalan Lal January 13, 2017 at 12:41 pm

With trains going in and going out of Jayshri’s head in the film Parchain of V Shantaram other important train should be remembered along with the Bhavani Junction of John Masters and that is “Train to Pakistan ” by Khusvant Singh published in 1958,

Both Bhavani Junction and Trian to Pakistan are great literarary masterpieces. Both should have awarded Nobel Prize for that particular time. Both depict human ethos and vast scale of sorrows caused on the Indian people. Both have Railway Connections.

Shalan Lal

51 ksbhatia January 13, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Venkatraman ji ;

Thanks for adding songs from the regional movies. It seems we are at a saturation point as not many rail songs are left to be explored .However , I am waiting for surprises from Hans ji and Arvinder Sharma ji . Of course waiting for couplets from Jignesh as well .

Till the arrival of some more trains….here is a compilation of train rides / stunts of silent and golden era of hollywood ……..when comedy and stunts went hand in hand

Chattanooga Choo Choo….Laural Hardy, Charlie Chaplin , Buster Keaton , etc…..


52 D P Rangan January 19, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Shalan Lal

At the outset let me apologise for my lagardness in not responding earlier. I was suffering from a bad bout of cough and cold and could not take interest in anything while it was virulent and this unusually cold weather in which I am caught after more than a decade of escape to warmer climes further sapped my energy.

Thanks for appreciating my travel episode as a child. I have never thought myself as an author. Whatever little I have penned is thanks to the generosity of AK to whom I am very much indebted.
Gandhi is a good suggestion. What are blog followers for. They are to carry the idea further. I cannot think of everything. John Masters is a good writer. I have read lot of his books including Bhawani Junction. This blog is primarily a music based one. I just introduced the topic of railways and then plunged into the songs. Jignesh states he is not in a mood to go through the entire article on any subject and would look at music part only. I expect you to dwell at length at other aspects as you seem to do well if your past posts are any indication. Keep at it hammer and tongs. Once again I thank you for appreciating this article.

53 D P Rangan January 19, 2017 at 2:42 pm


Very much appreciate with your views. I am happy you found the songs interesting. Let me congratulate you on your recent article. AK seems to have devoted the first month of 20117 for guest articles. I will go through it.


Thanks for your comments on the post. I enjoyed all the songs you posted.

Your travel experience as a child and subsequently as an adult is great. I am happy to find that almost all the bloggers here are admirers of railways. The only chance of a steam journey is to ride the Delhi Cantt. to Alwar picnic special pulled by Fairie Queen during February.

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