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)
The 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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockton_and_Darlington_Railway)
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 wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainhill_Trials.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.