Bollywood and Indian Railways are two major unifying forces in India. And when Bollywood depicts Indian Railways in their songs, the effect is nothing short of pure magic. Here, I will take you on a wonderful nostalgia filled ride of Bollywood songs filmed on Indian Railway trains. Enjoy !
Part I ( B&W Era songs- 1941-1964)
Song description- This must be one of the oldest Bollywood song filmed on Indian Railways, if not the oldest. This movie is called Doctor (1941) and one can see Punkaj Mullick singing joyously aboard a narrow guage train with wooden bodied coaches,later joined by the fellow passengers as well. As one can see, the coaches are much different from what we see today.There are no grills on the window. The coaches have EIR (East India Railway) written on them,a railway company that is no longer in existence, and obviously that kind of coaches and steam locomotive, and the narrow guage track, have long since vanished.This is a song that would regularly figure in Radio Ceylon ( later Sri Lanka Broadcasting corporation ) morning half hour programme (7-30 to 8 AM) called Purani filmon ke geet. watching the same song in addition to listening to it is such a wonderful experience that takes us back in time to 1941,67 years back. A must for nostalgia buffs. The song was sung by Punkaj Mallick, and he had acted in it too. Those were the days when playback singing was in its infancy and the actors had to sing their own songs.
Aayi bahaar (Doctor 1941) Singer-Punkaj Mullick
Song description: This song is from 1954, when India had just become independent, and people were full of patriotic zeal and energy and they were busy building the nation.If you think that it is some old and forgotten song, think again. This song has attained a cult status for every Indian over the last 54 years. You may or may not know the name of the movie, you may not know who the actors were or what the story was, or how the song was picturised, but everyone of you has surely heard this song. And yes, this song was picturised on a train, hauled by a steam locomotive. And it is that immortal song with music of Hemant Kumar, lyrics and voice of kavi Pradeep. Movie is Jagriti (1954)
Aao bachchon tumhe dikhaye (Movie- Jaagriti) Singer-Pradeep,Lyrics-Pradeep,Music-Hemant Kumar
Song description -Have you travelled in Bombay local trains? Too crowded, you say ! What about going down memory lane and travelling on it as it was 50 years ago in 1958, with Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman as companion ? You may not have heard the name of the movie. It is called "Solva Saal", a misnomer, if you ask me. It should have been called " woh 6 ghante" or something similar. It was a beautiful movie that few have watched ( I watched it a few months back), but it must rank as one of the better movies of Dev Anand, and more importantly, Waheeda Rehman.Notice the music of the mouth organ. It was actually played by the then teenage prodigy Rahul Burman ( that is how the son of S D Burman was credited in this movie as assistant music director) The song, of course is better known even to this day ( it topped Binaca geetmala 1958 final). Sung by Hemant Kumar, lyrics by Majrooh, and music by S. D. Burman, it is:
Hai apna dil to awara na jaane kispe aayega( Solva saal) Singer-Hemant Kumar,Lyrics-Majrooh Sultanpuri,Music- S D Burman
Song description:-What about travelling in the first class coupe? Waheeda Rehman and her parents have occupied three berths in a 4 berth coupe and a dashing guy joins them. A very feasible scenario even today. What would the single guy do in such a case ? He is of course interested in the girl, not in the buddhas. So he sings a carefully worded song talking of the "Uparwala" being deliberately ignorant. Hearing the word "Uparwala", Waheeda Rehman, who is on the upper berth, is scandalised, as does her mother, occupying the other upper berth. Then, she realises that "uparwala" does not mean her, it means the almighty above. Thank God, the song is not about me, it is about the God, she heaves a big sigh of relief. But as the song progresses, she is not so sure. She furtively tries to have a glance at the fellow singing the song which are obviously full of double entendre, even though her parents have been fooled.Notice Waheeda Rehman's expressions throughout the song. Priceless.
Movie is Kaala Bazar.Music by S D Burman,Lyrics by Shailendra and it is sung by Rafi
Apni to har aah ik toofan hai(Kaala Bazaar) Singer-Rafi,Lyrics-Shailendra,Music-S D Burman
Song description:-This time, Dev Anand is alone with the girl ( Asha Parekh) in the first class coupe, and that has allowed them to open direct line of communication. An argument develops between the two and Dev Anand threatens to jump off the train. Hoping to call his bluff, Asha Parekh dares him to jump off. " Go on, jump, what are you waiting for"- she taunts Dev Anand. And Dev Anand, before Asha parekh knows what happened, jumps off. The stunned girl looks out, her heart in her mouth, and her heart quickly returns back to its rightful place, because Dev Saab has managed to land on the top of a bus that was very conveniently going down the road parallel to the rail track. And this offers just the right situation for our hero to break into a chart busting number
Jiya Ho, jiya ho jiya kuch bol to, dil ka parda khol to(jab pyar kisise hota hai) Singer-Rafi,Lyrics-Hasrat Jaipuri,Music-Shankar Jaikishan
Song description:-When people travel by an Indian Railway train, they try all tricks in the book to get concessions. Students concession, freedom fighters concession, sports concession, Gallantary award concession, you name it. But the standard concessions still remain the same, no ticket ( for kids below 5 years of age, and half ticket for kids between 5 to 12 years of age. And posing as underage to claim this concession is an old trick. Here Kishore Kumar poses as a kid and travels on a half ticket.One of the great comedy songs filmed on a rail dibba, on the great comedian Kishore Kumar and others:
Cheel Cheel chilla ke kajri sunaaye( half Ticket) Singer and Actor- Kishore Kumar, Lyrics-Shailendra,Music-Salil Chowdhary
Part II(Colour era songs-1970 to present day)
Song description:-Another decade, another pair of actors, another parallel rail/ road situation. The girl is sitting in a tiny coach of the narrow gauge Darjeeling toy train being hauled by a steam locomotive,and the hero is riding on a jeep. Girl is trying to read an Alistair McLean novel, And the boy is singing an Anand Bakhshi song, and the song is the stuff that dreams are made of. Magical song ! S D Burman's magic at its best!
Mere sapno ki rani kab aayegi tu ( Aradhana)Singer-Kishore Kumar, Lyrics-Anand Bakshi,Music- S D Burman
Song description:-Boy has met the girl, the two have got introduced, have fallen in love with each other and are prepared to lead the rest of their lives together. And it is here that the harsh realities of life kick in. The duo needs to elope to somewhere else. And they take a goods train, where they travel on a haystack. And they sing a truly moving number aboard the train.Just notice a sari donning Zeenat Aman swaying to her heart's content in the breeze generated by the moving train. As you can see, R D Burman is not for nothing the son of S D Burman.
Hum dono do premi duniya chor chalen( Ajnabi)Singers-Lata & Kishore,Lyrics-Anand Bakshi,Music-R D Burman
Song description:- The boy and girl have successfully weathered the storm and got married. But it is not a fairy tale end that they had expected. The boy suspects the girl of having an affair with his best friend. And this suspicion (baseless, as it turns out) loses him the girl. And he can only feel remorse and a sense of loss at what has happened. And the song that comes out of this pain is sure to move the listener and watcher too. Another R D Burman classic:
Zindagi ke safar mein guzar jaate hain jo mukaam( Aapki Kasam)Singer-Kishore Kumar,Lyrics-Anand bakshi,Music-R D Burman
Song description:- A Kid grows up adoring trains that pass by near his place, whistling while doing so.Many years later, his near and dear one remember him every time they see a train passing by the same track and blowing the whistle. Really moving stuff.
Gadi bula rahi hai (Dost 1974), Singer-Kishore, Lyrics- Anand Bakshi, MD- Laxmikant Pyarelal
Song description:- Not just the passengers, even the locomotive drivers have personal lives, and they too have tender feelings. And like the passengers, the Engine driver too expresses his feelings in the form of a song, when he sees the lady of his dreams:
Dhanno ki aankhon mein pyar ka surma (Kitaab)Singer-R D Burman, Lyrics-Gulzar, MD- R D Burman
Song description:- And this time, the locomotive drivers, who have seen it all in their lives, sing a more philosophical song aboard the steam locomotive
Haathon ki chand lakeero ka( Vidhaata)Singers-Suresh Wadkar & Anwar,Lyrics-Anand bakshi,MD- Kalyanji Anandji
Song description- If you are a superstar then you do things differently from ordinary folks. Instead of singing within a coach, you stand on its rooftop and sing.If you agree to get down, you do so only when the train is moving.After all, you are the superstar of the millenium, not just any other Tom, Dick and Hari actor.
Aaj ka ye din, kal ban jaayega kal (Naastik)Singer-Kishore,Lyrics-Anand Bakshi,MD_Kalyanji Anandji
Song description:- What about people riding on the rooftop of a train, Bihar ishtyle? The superstar of the millenium rode on the rooftop singing "Aj ka ye din" in "Nastik". Not to be undone, the present day superstar SRK, with a whole troupe of dancers muster up the courage to ride on the roof top,and even sing and dance there.That too on the ooty toy train.
warning- Do not try this when you go home and decide to ride a train, but you are permitted to sing and dance right now- at your home.
Chal Chaiya chaiya ( Dil se)Singers-sapna Awasthi, Sukhwinder Singh,Lyrics-Gulzar,MD- A R Rahman