Trains and railway stations have always been an intrinsic part of cinema -be it one of the several screen James Bonds trading punches with goons atop or inside trains, an Amitabh Bachchan or Govinda carrying luggage on station platforms or an Uttam Kumar and Sharmila Tagore bonding during a journey . And when such scenes are shot, even the railways earn quite a bit. In fact, South Eastern Railway earned substantial revenue from film shoots in the last fiscal. So, here’s more on the subject.
Railway minister Suresh Prabhu had declared last year that his department is aiming at a `non-fare revenue generation’ model. And in answer, the South Eastern Zone (SEZ) of the railways has generated revenue of more than `60 lakh from film shoots. From Ribhu Dasgupta’s Big B starrer Te3n, Niraj Pandey’s MS Dhoni -The Untold Story, to Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee’s Prakton, the list goes on and on.
“In the last financial year, we earned more than `60 lakh from film shoots, while it was only `19 lakh the earlier fiscal and `6.74 lakh in 2013-14,” Sanjoy Ghosh, chief PRO, South Eastern Railway told us.
Of course, Central Railway , which hosts a majority of Bollywood shoots earned close to `80 lakh last fiscal, but even SER’s earning is being considered a major achievement.
According to SER officials, Shalimar, Kharagpur and Santragachi stations were among the favourite shooting destinations throughout the year. An official said Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s short stint as a ticket collector at Kharagpur helped SER earn a major chunk of the revenue, as part of his biopic was shot at the station.”The shooting of MS Dhoni -An Untold Story contributed `29.96 lakh through license fee and other charges. Even Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee’s Prakton contributed `8.53 lakh, while Shree Venkatesh Films paid us `9.44 lakh for shooting a film starring Dev and Nusrat Jahan at the Shalimar station,” Sanjoy told us. “Te3n, which had shot scenes at Santragachi and Shalimar stations, contributed almost `10.26 lakh to our coffers.
Sanjoy told us that the growing preference for SER has several contributing factors. “We maintain a single window system and our PR team fully cooperates with the production team; even accompanies them on site visits. We’ve also eased procedures for booking locations and once a shoot is approved, we tend to their problems. In short, SER is now a very shooting-friendly zone.”
Another official, K Chakraborty , told us that Shalimar station has generated the highest revenue. “It’s a terminal station, which has both passenger and goods train movement. But the crowd is less, so a large yard and wide passenger platforms are easily available and there is reduced security concerns for celebrities. That makes it easier for production teams to shoot at the station. Moreover, the shooting fee is lower than other larger and busier stations. Obviously, Shalimar alone earned `27.93 lakh during the last fiscal,” he said.