Shah Rukh Khan and his unmatched sense of belonging when it comes to the Indian Railways.
Shah Rukh Khan seems to have an unmatched sense of belonging when it comes to the Indian Railways. We traced it back 20 years - when Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge gave us (and him) the iconic climax at the railway station - and realised that SRK has been clinging to trains since.
Think of a situation inside/on top of/around the train, and he’s done it. While this may have already triggered a train of thought in your mind, don’t stress those brain cells too hard. Allow us to take you through his journey.
1. Where it all began (1995)
Any SRK story is incomplete without mentioning DDLJ. And we are mentioning it for the second time already because, well, this is where we believe it all began. It’s been established beyond a doubt that Simran could have easily boarded another compartment, Raj could've pulled the chain, or he could've jumped off and they could've both packed properly and taken the next one, but nooooo. Ja, Simran, ja = Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, because how else would we have landed a scene dramatic enough for people to still be talking about it for two whole decades and counting?
2. When he danced on top of a train (1998)
Who would have thought dancing on top of a moving train was even possible, except Khan? Chhaiya Chhaiya from Dil Se was an instant hit when it came out. You play it even now, and chances are people will drop everything and break into the exact steps Malaika and him won our hearts with, headbanging et al. Not that we stood a chance at not being impressed: written by Gulzar, composed by AR Rahman, sung by Sukhwinder Singh, choreographed by Farah Khan, directed by Mani Ratnam, shot on top on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, winding through the hills of Tamil Nadu... There's just no topping that combination! Spectacularly shot, without camera tricks or special effects, and the first of its kind at the time, we think this iconic scene took SRK's relationship status with trains from "It's complicated" to "committed".
3. Same train, same station, same heroine, swapped positions (1998)
In 1998, we also saw SRK aka Rahul (naam toh suna hi hoga) romancing Kajol aka Anjali (again), but in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Only this time, HE was on the platform, while SHE stood on the train, heartbroken, and ready to leave forever. As he begged her not to leave him, he cried, she cried, we cried, Rani Mukherji cried. And SRK established yet again that we don't need last minute airport scenes for romantic drama, we need railway platforms and slow-moving trains.
4. When he de-boarded the train when he realised no one was following him (2004)
He came, he sang and danced, he conquered — that’s Farah Khan's Main Hoon Na summarised. In this film, SRK made an entire college fall head-over-heels for him, only to leave. After an extended farewell scene on the college grounds, he made his way to the station and jumped on the train, all set to leave. Only to end up deboarding (possibly because he realised no one was running after him; that shit can really bring you down), followed by a scene in which he just contemplates a big cloud of engine smoke for waytoomany seconds. The entire scene was rather unnecessary, but by this time we figure SRK was big enough to demand a train anyway with the same ease as his vanity van.
5. It was time to go separate ways (2004)
2004 also brought with it the very weepy, very long Veer Zaara. It was time to do things differently. So after running behind each other, dancing on top of and inside the train, it was time for — wait for it — the big, bad break-up. After a REALLY long heart-to-heart ‘Et tu, Brute?’ conversation on the platform, the two lovers go their separate ways with tears in their eyes and another moment checked around a train.
6. After love and romance, it was time to go solo (2004)
Swades was the third SRK movie in the same year, each with an important train scene (we were so not kidding about his obsession). And this one was all about travelling solo. The powerful scene where SRK buys drinking water from a kid selling "pacchis paise ka ek glass" broke his heart, but it also snuck in a wide shot of his favourite means of transportation.
7. Becasue inside the train is so 20th Century (2011)
Playing an Indian sci-fi hero and villain (and Southie simpleton) in Ra-One, we imagine that SRK sat down with director Anubhav Sinha before the shoot, to make a list of everything that has still not been done with/around/inside/atop a train. And that’s how they came up with the confusing Indian Spiderman scene in which Khan clings to the windows of Bombay locals, and basically backflips, somersaults, and flies his way between trains. Of course no one has any idea where he's going or WTF he's up to, BUT THAT'S NOT THE POINT. Getting his train fix is.
8. Same scene, different heroine (2012)
Half the cast of Chennai Express was inside the train. And the movie had the same damsel-in-distress, let's-run-and-board-only-that-ONE-compartment scene that took everyone right back to DDLJ. Because life comes full circle, or SRK runs out of ideas, or directors have just had it with his affliction - one of them, we can't tell anymore.
SRK seems to have been missing his on-screen love affair with trains so much that the lack of one since 2012 pushed him to take a real life train journey to promote his last release, Raees. Go figure. You know we're onto something.