From Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore’s dreamy toy train sequence in ‘Aradhana’ to the climax scene of Shah Rukh Khan extending his hand to Kajol in ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’, Bollywood’s fascination with trains goes way back. These iconic train sequences now adorn the walls of Delhi’s National Rail Museum and will surely trigger bundles of memories in the minds of the visitors.
Enter the museum, walk down to the souvenir shop and get ready to be greeted by larger-than-life murals of Rajesh Khanna along with Zeenat Aman, Sharmila Tagore, Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan.
The museum’s drab walls recently got a colourful makeover courtesy Delhi Street Art (DSA), a collective, which was started in 2013 with the aim of promoting public art by young artists. The group has already travelled to more than 10 cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Rishikesh and Pune. Since then, the group has been credited with giving a makeover to places around the country which includes the Free School Under The Bridge to NHAI’s Delhi Meerut Expressway and even Mandoli and Tihar prisons.
Yogesh Saini, the founder of Delhi Street Art, said the concept behind the Bollywood themed wall art originated about six months back during their conversations with the National Rail Museum director Amit Saurashtri. Delhi Street Art had already partnered with several school children to beautify the walls of the exterior walls of the museum and Saurashtri wanted something engaging for the inner walls of the museum as well.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Saurashtri said, “Bollywood and Railways are two things with which Indians connect the most. With this segment, we wanted visitors to get a feel of both as trains are an integral part of Bollywood.”
Saurashtri added that during one of the visits to the museum, Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani had mentioned that similar to the other walls how these exterior walls could also be beautified. Since general rail themes had been done time and again, Saini, while brainstorming with his team, decided to showcase 11 iconic Bollywood songs or scenes at the museum.
Saini told indianexpress.com that the whole project was completed in two phases by 10-15 artists. The first three to become part of the celluloid journey were ‘Aradhana’, ‘Coolie’ and ‘Veer-Zaara’. Scenes which were added later are from the movies ‘Tere Naam’, ‘Ajnabee’, ‘Chennai Express’, ‘DDLJ’, ‘Jab We Met’, ‘Fanaa’, ‘Dil Se’ and ‘Ki & Ka’.
Deepak Saini, one of the artists working with DSA, said that visitors would often stop by to identify a scene or actor. The artists also got requests for adding more scenes. “We told them these were in the process of being painted,” he added. The queries would vary from “Are you going to add DDLJ?” to “How about Jab We Met?”
The DSA team also wanted to incorporate some movies which were shot at the museum which includes Fanaah and the recent Ki & Ka. Not many people know that the movies ‘Fanaah’ and ‘Ki & Ka’ were shot at the National Rail Museum in Delhi against the backdrop of vintage trains. The song ‘Foolishq’ from ‘Ki and Ka’ was shot in and around the Rewari Heritage train.
Sumit Singh, a visitor at the Rail Museum, said his childhood memories have been brought alive through these wall paintings. Singh reminisces how he used to watch movies with his family. “This was how family bonding used to take place then and even now it’s the same. From “Mere Sapno Ki Rani” to Chhaiya Chhaiya”, from ‘DDLJ’ to ‘Fanaa’, these scenes remind us how far we have come. There can be no better way to blend Bollywood and Railways than this.” he added.
Another young visitor, Adit Gupta, said he is a movie buff and just by looking at SRK and Malaika dancing on a train, he started humming Chhaiya Chhaiya. “My friend told me about this makeover and I had to come. My favourite Bollywood train moment is ‘Ja Simran Ja’ climax scene from DDLJ and was disappointed not to find it,” Gupta added. Saini confirmed that DDLJ scene would be added to the list and the team was planning to complete it soon as some finishing touches were still left.
Bollywood and Railway are inseparable so much that movies still have several scenes, songs and dance sequences surrounding trains. The trains symbolise several emotions for the filmmaker such as romance, drama, action or suspense. Over the years, the portrayal of trains might have changed but it continues to inspire songs in movies.
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