From Rajesh Khanna wooing Sharmila Tagore in ‘Mere Sapno ki Raani Kab Ayegi Tu’ song to the iconic Chaiyya Chaiyya song in which Shahrukh khan and Malaika Arora Khan danced atop a moving train, the Indian Railways has had long association with films.
And with filmmaker’s continued fascination for trains and film shoots offering abundant publicity to the Indian Railways over the years, one would think the government would have made shooting with railways easier and red-tape free.
However this is not the case if revenue from film shoots is any indication.
According to minister of state for railways Manoj Sinha’s statement in the Lok Sabha last year in 2012–13 and 2013–14, the railways generated a total of Rs 6.09 and Rs 6.74 crore from film shoots. The next year the earning was only Rs 3.2 crore, and by July of 2015 the revenue stood at Rs 66 lakh.
The reason for the declining revenue is not hard to guess.
Indian filmmakers say they have to go through several layers of rules and regulations to seek permission for the shoot.
Application seeking permission to shoot a film involving railways property has to be made at least one month in advance. Again a filmmaker has to make provisions for hefty insurance premium against the value of railway properties used and also furnish a refundable Rs. 5 lakh bank guarantee as indemnity bond.
For foreign filmmakers it is even harder to set foot in India and shoot in trains.
Not long ago in 2012 the famous James Bond Franchise was denied permission to shoot a scene atop a train for its film Spectre just because the railway ministry did not want the movie to show that passengers in India travel on roofs of trains.
When Suresh Prabhu, the railway minister presents this year’s rail budget on Wednesday one hopes he takes into account the declining revenue from film shoots and take corrective measures so that the long standing association of film industry with trains continues.