It is often used as a strategic setting to establish a character, like in Baharein Phir Bhi Aayegi, or to establish, like in Devdas, or as a story-telling sequence, like in Aashirwad.
More often, and sometimes more tellingly, the train becomes a socio-political romantic setting - through songs and music. Who can forget the beautiful tracks from films like Aradhana and Parineeta?
However, in most features on the metaphorical, political, sociological, literary, suggestive and physical contribution of the train in our cinema, writers have often missed out on two films: Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali and much later, Nayak.
The polarised use of the train in these two films interestingly maps out the history of the railways and trains in India.
Text: Shoma A Chatterji