While India is the country that has the largest train network anywhere in the world, it is Hollywood that keeps on coming with one train saga or the other that has all the potential to shake you out of the reverie. John Travolta literally epitomizes this genre and therefore he again rides a train and throws a challenge and it has to be accepted by Denzel Washington when THE TAKING OF PELHALM 123 hits the Indian silver screen on Friday the 28 August 2009.
John Travolta is the past master of excelling on a train journey and there can be nothing menacing than him when the subject is the train as he showed with such terror in BROKEN ARROW and even Christian Slater could not stand against his onslaught. It was BROKEN ARROW that gave him a new image and the rock star of yester years emerged as one of the most menacing baddies that the world could ever see.
Another train movie that catapulted an actor who was still on the fringe was Keanu Reeves with SPEED which made him a cult figure all over the world by the convincing manner in which he handled the situation with panache in SPEED. As a matter of fact Hollywood has been into train movies from 1940 and it was possibly owing to the genre of Western movies where dacoity had to be shown, primarily with the objective to titillate the audience with a specter of gun fights. Hollywood has been constantly visiting this genre last one being the POLAR EXPRESS. Who could forget the scintillating action that Tom Cruise showed in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE!
This begs a question, why Hindi cinema does not make a train movie on the same scale as it is done in Hollywood. The last film where it was done was in DHOOM:2 but again it was inspired from BROKEN ARROW.
If there is one real train movie that has a class written all over it, it was SHOLAY. An attempt was made to contextualize story through train by B R Chopra in THE BURNING TRAIN but it came cropper. It is altogether a different matter that quite a lot of songs have been picturised using trains as a backdrop and it has been picturised from the time of Black & White era. A real success story where train was used in the recent times for a major part of the film was in GADAR-EK PREM KATHA, and as a prop in VEER ZAARA.
However, now that we have luxury trains running all over the country and covering one of the best locations that country can offer, somebody indeed needs to wake up to its possibilities. It could be as a matter of fact series of films one being using the Palace on Wheels - covering Rajasthan, then Deccan Odyssey-covering Maharashtra and the Karnataka jewel-Golden Chariot connecting Bangalore to Goa. The audience demands new thinking about content, and may be train stories covering these luxury locations could be one of the answers.