4. The Shilpas rejected it
Everything was finalised for the shoot of Chaiyya Chaiyya, except that Shah Rukh had no dancing partner. Shilpa Shetty and Shilpa Shirodkar turned down the offer because both were scared of heights. Makeup artist Mickey Contractor suggested Malaika Arora to Farah. The choreographer had no idea whether Malaika could dance. But Mickey assured her. Malaika flew down to Ooty a couple of days before the shoot and practiced in the banquet of actor Mithun Chakraborty’s hotel (Monarch). But there wasn’t any time to practice atop the train. It would have been either a hit or a miss.
5. The pitfalls
For four days, from 7am to 6pm, the train travelled from Ooty to Coonoor and back. The train was stable only when it ran at a speed of 40kmph. Anything less than that caused the train to jerk and the crew to lose its balance. There were a number of sheer drops on either side and at times it got really dangerous when the trained slowed down to negotiate bends. Farah took some extra dancers in case some fell off the moving train. Fortunately, none did.
6. Technical benchmark
Image: India West
Dil Se.. bombed at the box office and Farah was shattered. But Chaiyya Chaiyya went on to become a technical benchmark for Bollywood song taking. Dancer in the Dark, a Swedish film, was shot on top of a train but had 72 cameras placed along the route. Chaiyya Chaiyya was shot with just one camera mounted on a crane and a steadicam operated by Farah and her assistant. They used to dive under a blanket when one of them was taking the shot since there was no other place to hide.