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DDLJ to Pathaan: Six iconic train sequences featuring Shah Rukh Khan

In Siddharth Anand’s Pathaan, Shah Rukh is joined by Salman Khan in bashing up the baddies inside a train and then on top of it

Sohinee Basu Calcutta Published 30.01.23, 12:59 PM


“I came 32 years ago to the film industry to be an action hero. But I missed the boat because they made me a romantic hero… I always thought I’m an action hero, so for me, it’s a dream come true,” said Shah Rukh Khan in a Pathaan pre-release promotional video for Yash Raj Films (YRF).

Manifestations can sometimes take three decades and we may not know which “boat” Shah Rukh is talking about, but he surely did not miss the train. While evolving into a romantic action hero for the first time in his career, Pathaan is also the film where Shah Rukh reinvents his love affair with trains in a riveting fashion. No better time then to revisit Shah Rukh’s tryst with trains over the past three decades.


Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)

Behold the magnum opus in the Shah Rukh Khan filmography that made him synonymous with standing in mustard fields with his arms outstretched, waiting for his lady love to rush into them. We, too, uninitiated, ran towards him and stumbled into a relationship for a lifetime. While Aditya Chopra’s Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) is the film that placed the crown of the romantic hero atop his head, it is also the film that exposed Shah Rukh’s soft corner for trains. Be it the place for his goofy first meeting with Kajol’s Simran on the Eurorail to the climactic and melodramatic scene where Shah Rukh’s Raj stretches his arm and pulls Simran into the train — Shah Rukh arrived as a romantic hero and how!

Dil Se… (1998)

In Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se, Shah Rukh went a step ahead and climbed on top of a train for a goosebump-inducing song sequence. Shot in guerilla mode on an Ooty-bound train, the song Chaiyya Chaiyya was famously made without major back projections, camera tricks or post-production special effects. Clad in a red jacket, Shah Rukh, along with Malaika Arora, danced up a storm to A.R. Rahman’s groovy tune.

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998)

So many of us were wiping hot tears off our own faces when Kajol’s heartbroken Anjali was on the train bidding a teary farewell to Shah Rukh’s Rahul at the climactic half-point of Karan Johar’s directorial debut. From the train whistles to Rahul begging Anjali to not leave him as he chased after the train to Anjali letting her red dupatta fly off and land on Rahul’s then-beau Tina’s (Rani Mukherji) hand, who knew a train station platform could become a dimpled Shah Rukh’s emotional playground!

Ra.One (2011)

Easily one of the best examples of VFX used by Hindi cinema before it became ubiquitous, Shah Rukh’s Red Chillies Entertainment amped up the superhero angle here. In many ways, the Anubhav Sinha-directed Ra.One can be seen as the slow-transition film for Shah Rukh into the action genre, though a full transformation had to wait till Pathaan. Instead of the long-distance trains and toy trains, Shah Rukh segues into a Mumbai local setting and what follows is an adrenaline-packed action sequence where he is pulling off SpiderMan-esque stunts and drawing in whistles galore.

Chennai Express (2013)

If anybody can stir up as much rustle as the Shah Rukh-Kajol chemistry and still hold her own in it, it is Deepika Padukone, who made her Bollywood debut with Shah Rukh in Om Shanti Om and took her rapport with the ‘King’ a step further in Rohit Shetty’s Chennai Express. From meta-recreating the signature DDLJ train scene where Shah Rukh stretches out his arm and helps Deepika get on the train (followed by unknowingly helping the goons as well) to an insanely hilarious antakshari sequence onboard, Shah Rukh owned the space and Deepika, as Meenamma, slayed big time.

Pathaan (2023)

No matter how ripped he is, muscle and sinew never do the talking all by themselves when it comes to Shah Rukh. There are his eyes, his gestures and, of course, his words that create the perfect contrast with his physique in Pathaan, earning him the moniker of the romantic action hero. Pathaan’s most hoot-worthy sequence takes place on a train with Shah Rukh landing kicks and blows with a fellow member of the YRF Spy Universe (Tiger aka Salman Khan of course). Shah Rukh fights bulky Russian thugs, runs on train tops, shoots down helicopters, throws bad guys down bridges and literally spits fire in an adrenaline-pumper of a train sequence that is refreshingly self-reflexive. If this marks the heralding of a brand-new SRK Express, we cannot help but get onboard!

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