How James Bond Was Almost an Ambassador for Indian Railways
"Indian Railways is stronger than James Bond." Daniel Craig might have said that line in Skyfall had negotiations between the film's producers and India's Railway Ministry not fallen through back in 2011.
Participating in a Parliament discussion Monday on the government's recently announced annual railway budget, former railways minister Dinesh Trivedi revisited how the Sam Mendes-directed Skyfall nearly involved James Bond endorsing one of the world's largest train networks, which transports over 24 million people daily.
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Skyfall producers wanted to include an India action sequence to be filmed atop a moving train. "I put three conditions: that they will not show that passengers in India travel on roofs of trains; that there will be no compromise with safety during the shoot; and that James Bond would sign up as a brand ambassador for Indian Railways," Trivedi said. "As per the third condition, which was only added in jest, James Bond would be required to say that 'Indian Railways is stronger than James Bond.' "
Trivedi said the producers accepted the second and even the third condition, but they said they did not want to shoot in India if they could not show people on train rooftops. " 'There will be a scene where James Bond is going to fight on the roof of a train. Otherwise, why would we come to India?' they said," added Trivedi.
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The film's pretitle opening stunt scene was eventually filmed in Turkey, showing Bond atop a speeding train in a vicious fight with a mercenary who had stolen a hard drive containing classified data on undercover agents.
Trivedi said the talks with the Bond producers fell through, as he would never permit the producers to "show us in poor light," but did acknowledge that people traveling on train rooftops was an image that had come to be associated with Indian Railways. He referred to the iconic "Chaiyya Chaiyya" song sequence featuring top Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan dancing with a troupe on a moving train in 1998's Dil Se.
International projects have also shown people riding on train rooftops, such as 1982's Gandhi. More recently, Danny Boyle's Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire showed the film's child actors riding atop a train.