If you’ve grown on a staple diet of films, you’d agree with this: That there is no ‘prop’ as good as a train in our films. From high-speed chases to clandestine meetings to that romantic encounter, trains have been a filmgoer’s best friend forever.
So while you’re wait for the union rail minister Suresh Prabhu’s Rail Budget 2016, and before you start pondering over its minuses and pluses, here’s a list of memorable locomotive scenes in both Bollywood and Hollywood.
We’re not saying it’s the most definitive list, but rest assured that it’s got it all: from the heart-warming to heart racing, from Shahrukh Khan’s Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge to Daniel Craig’s Skyfall!
1. Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge
The 1995 movie starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol has top-of-the-mind recall every time there is a mention of trains in Bollywood. The climax sequence is shot at a railway station where after much action and melodrama, Amrish Puri, Kajol’s father in the movie, utters the now legendary words, “Ja Simran, Jee le apni zindagi!”
2. Chennai Express
Rohit Shetty’s first venture with King Khan turned out to be a bigger blockbuster than his earlier Rs-100-crore projects (Singham, Golmaal and the likes). The train sequence in the movie was more of a tribute to Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, where we see Deepika Padukone doing a Kajol as she runs to catch the train. There is also a sequence inside the train where SRK and Deepika converse in the guise of antakshari!
3. Chaiya Chaya - Dil Se
Shah Rukh Khan and Malaika Arora Khan were an national rage for singing Chaiyya Chaiyya, atop a moving train in Ooty. Choregraphed by Farah Khan, the song was one of the most popular dance numbers for Hindi song lovers.
4. The Burning Train
The 1980 film was almost completely set on train. Parts the train catch fire and the movie then traces Vinod Khanna’s efforts to save the people onboard. Vinod Khanna and Danny Denzongpa’s fighting sequence in the burning train remains one of the most thrilling ones in Bollywood.
Salman Khan’s action sequence in Sajid Nadiadwala’s directorial debut was also a favourite with spoof-makers. Salman is seen riding a bicycle and in a fraction of a second, passes by a railway crossing, escaping a speeding train!
6. Kasto Mazaa - Parineeta
Saif Ali Khan’s Parineeta showcased the scenic beauty of the hills in the song Kasto Mazaa that remains one of the kids’ favourite number while taking a train ride.
7. The Train
Emraan Hashmi, Sayali Bhagat and Geeta Basra featured in lead roles in the film where train played a pivotal part. The twists and turns in the plot are placed mostly around the train where Emraan happens to meet both his friends and foes.
8. Hum Dono Do Premi - Ajanabee
The song was one of the most poplar numbers in the late 90s. It has been picturised on Rajesh Khanna and Zeenat Aman.
9. Mere Sapno Ki Rani -Aaradhana
The song picturised on Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore shows Sharmila on a train while Rajesh Khanna drives by in a jeep, all along the way! No wonder girls would kill for the actor in that age!
10. Kaanchi Re Kaanchi Re - Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai
The song picturised on Rishi Kapoor and Padmini Kolhapure is a peppy number from the movie directed by Nasir Hussain.
11. Skyfall (2012)
For Bond, trains serve three functions: They are fight locations, flirting locations and keeping-the-British-end-up locations. So, Bond’s no stranger to a rollicking good train sequence, and for his 50th anniversary, director Sam Mendes pulled out all the stops for a rocking railroad scene so brilliant it just about eclipses all the others. 007 (Daniel Craig) is on the trail of bad guy Patrice (Ola Rapace) in Istanbul, with Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) providing back-up. Except Eve’s attempt to shoot Patrice off the roof of a moving train goes wrong when she strikes Bond instead. Cue a long fall from the sky...
12. From Russia With Love (1963)
Bond (Sean Connery) finds himself trapped in a train carriage with SPECTRE agent Grant (Robert Shaw), who’s got a great bloody pistol pointed right at him. Then Grant makes his first mistake – opening Bond’s smoke-bombed briefcase, leading to a moody-looking fist-fight that hasn’t aged a day. Music-less, soundtracked only by the clatter of the train on the track, this is really, really brutal.
13. The Wolverine (2013)
Pursued by Yakuza gangsters, a wounded and strangely vincible Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) attempts to escape on a Tokyo bullet train, but finds himself cornered. Solution? Hop onto the roof and shake the bad guys loose. Luckily, Wolverine’s got his own grapple hooks (oh alright, claws), which means he can cling on better than the bad guys. That said, it still makes us wince when an unlucky Yakuza falls victim to a low-hanging bit of framework.
14. Mission: Impossible (1996)
Before Wolverine and Bond took to train roofs, Tom Cruise showed us how it’s really done in this first impossible mission. Going after Jon Voight’s scheming turn tail, Ethan (Cruise) ends up on a train in the Channel Tunnel where he uses some explosive chewing gum to take down both Voight AND a helicopter (oh YES).
15. The French Connection (1971)
Though a train’s very much involved in this breathtaking sequence, the action’s really taking place on the roads below it as Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman) attempts to keep up with the loco. Naturally, that’s made all the trickier by everybody else on the road, and all those pesky red lights. Not that Popeye lets any of those things stop him...
16. Wanted (2008)
James McAvoy’s assassin learns how to curve bullets as Wesley, then finds himself stuck on a train with rad bad guy Cross (Thomas Kretschmann) with nowhere to hide. Includes the frankly brilliant sights of Angelina Jolie’s Fox (oo-er) driving a car into a moving train and McAvoy firing bullets that SMASH INTO OTHER BULLETS. You can’t make this stuff up. (Unless your name’s Mark Millar or Timur Bekmambetov).
17. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man was ace, but the second was even better, mostly because of this jaw-dropping sequence set on an R train. Spidey (Tobey Maguire) is going up against Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), whose mechanical tentacles make him a particularly dastardly foe – not least when he destroys the train’s breaks and gets the hell out of dodge. Which means it’s up to Spidey to save the day. Which he does. But only just, this confrontation pushing him right to the limit...
18. Strangers On A Train (1951)
Hitchcock’s exceptional thriller sews its suspense seeds early aboard a train, where Guy Haines (Farley Granger) meets Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) and the two talk about the problems in their lives. Bruno comes up with a devilish solution – they should each kill the person making the other one’s life a misery. It could be the perfect crime, as they would have no motive and don’t even really know each other. It’s the talkiest scene on this list by far, but that doesn’t mean it’s the dullest – far from it. The suspense here is in the insidious idea that Bruno proposes, plus the tension of the question: Will they go through with it?
19. Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (1989)
Holy flashback, Batman! Indiana Jones’ third big screen outing jumps into the hero’s backstory as we meet him at 13-years-old (played by River Phoenix). His Utah horseback ride with the Boy Scouts takes a turn for the sinister, though, when he steals a golden cross from some ugly thugs and escapes onto a circus train – where he receives a serious whooping. This is also the place we discover why Indy hates snakes – and how he acquired that iconic hat.
20. Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2004)
Think Harry Potter’s all safe and cosy? Director Alfonso Cuarón knocks that nail on the head early on with a chilling sequence aboard the Hogwarts Express. As Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and co journey toward Hogwarts, their train’s intercepted by grim reaper-like baddies the Dementors, who suck all the happiness out of the train – and the franchise as a whole. It’s all darkness from here on in...
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