Film shooting process on Himalayan ‘toy train’ goes digital

Northeast Frontier Railway has introduced ease-of-doing-business for booking the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway for audio-visual projects.

Producer-director Nasir Hussain had to send representatives at least twice to Maligaon, the headquarters of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) in Guwahati, for the formalities to shoot a sequence on the Darjeeling “toy train” for his 1961 Bollywood blockbuster Jab Pyaar Kisi Se Hota Hai.

It was no different for Siddharth Roy Kapur during the shooting of his Ranbir Kapoor-starred Jagga Jasoos that was released in 2017.

Advertisement and filmmakers have now been saved the trouble of making the trips for obtaining shooting permission and learning about the procedures to be followed.

Film producers or enthusiasts willing to undertake film shooting either using the toy train or railway premises along DHR can now apply for permissions online. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“For almost seven decades, filmmakers from Bollywood, Tollywood (Kolkata-based Bengali film industry) and other regional cinema hubs used to come all the way to Guwahati or send their representatives for elaborate formalities. They can now do it with the click of a button on the new DHR booking site,” an NFR spokesperson said.

DHR expands to Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was completed between 1879 and 1881.

The narrow gauge DHR covers 88 km from West Bengal’s New Jalpaiguri at about 100 metres above sea level to Darjeeling at about 2,200 metres.

NFR officials said any film producer or enthusiast willing to undertake film shooting either using the toy train or railway premises along DHR can go to and apply online without physically coming to the offices concerned or the shooting site.

“They can upload scanned copy of the necessary documents by visiting the dashboard. Their applications will be processed online as per existing guidelines. Production houses can also deposit the requisite fees required to be submitted before undertaking the shooting online,” the spokesperson said, adding that the simplified process has also eliminated visits to the NFR headquarters for obtaining the shooting permission.

DHR has been magnetic for film enthusiasts apart from tourists. More than 25 Bollywood films have been shot in the Darjeeling areas.

Such films include China Town (1962), Aradhana (1969), Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (1992), Parineeta (2005) and Barfi (2012) apart from Jab Pyaar Kisi Se Hota Hai and Jagga Jasoos.

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