The mesmerizing natural beauty of Ooty, which was popularly known as Ootacamund, has attracted tourists from world over since decades. Dense forests, majestic mountains, miles of eucalyptus plants and tea plantations greet holidaymakers. Ooty packages are included in the itineraries of most travel planners in this area. Due to the immense beauty of this region, it has been a site for several regional as well as Bollywood movies. The spectacular charm of this landscape has allured many directors to situate their plots of drama and romance in and around this location.
Several song sequences have been shot with expertise amidst the picture-perfect locations of this place. Among these, there is hardly any one as popular as the A R Rahman composed song Chaiyya Chaiyya for the Mani Ratnam film Dil Se. The train ride from Mettupalayam to this hill station played host to the entire song sequence. Generally having a blue colour, the coaches were painted brown and yellow, just for this purpose. After shooting, the coaches were repainted to its original hue. Jostling through the dense vegetation cover of Nilgiri Hills, this is part of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR), which has been declared a UNESCO heritage facility.
The fine videography for this song had a major impact on its popularity even though A R Rahman induced a foot-tapping rhythm, which took the crowd by a storm. Shooting over a period of 8 days, the song was deftly choreographed by Farah Khan, with Shah Rukh Khan and Malaika Arora Khan shaking their leg to its tunes atop the train. This sequence was shot exactly in the same manner as it appears on the silver screen. The train runs at low speeds on ratchet and pinion tracks and in its journeys crosses several curves and hairpin bends. The presence of dark tunnels, which has been portrayed in the number, adds spice to the journey by this rail.
Though the train speed is considerably low, shooting atop was an extremely difficult task. The steam-engine is a delight to watch, and it lends mystic environs to the rhythmic Sufi number. Apart from the two leading actors on the train, a number of dancers match their footsteps in sync. This iconic track, which still echoes in the ears of thousands, was probably the most popular to be shot atop a moving train. In 2002, a global survey conducted by BBC ranked it among the top ten most popular songs of all time.
Apart from becoming lip-synced with the global population, this song has immensely the zone covered by this train. A trip by this rail is mandatory if travellers are coming to this place. Globetrotters coming to spend holidays in India have made it a must to avail a journey by NMR. Travelers can even capture some beautiful snaps while taking this journey.