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27 Down

aka Sattawis Down aka The Train to Benares aka 27 Down Bombay-Varanasi Express 1973 123’(115’) b&w Hindi d/p/sc Avtar Krishna Kaul pc Avtar Kaul Prod. st/dial Ramesh Bakshi lyr Nand Kishore Mittal c Apurba Kishore Bir m Bhuban Hari lp M.K. Raina, Raakhee, Rekha Sabnis, Om Shivpuri, Madhvi, Manjula, Nilesh Velani

The promising young Kaul’s only feature, financed by the NFDC and finished shortly before he died trying to save someone from drowning. An engine driver (Shivpuri), incapacitated after an accident, forces his son Sanjay (Raina) to join the railways and to stifle his artistic ambitions beneath a conductor’s uniform. Sanjay befriends the commuting typist Shalini (Raakhee) but his father pressures Sanjay to marry a village belle (Sabnis) who resembles the buffaloes she brings as her dowry. Sanjay escapes in yet another train journey (the Bombay-Benares train that provides the film’s title as well as the framing scene for the flashback narrative). When Sanjay meets Shalini again, he finds they have nothing in common any more. The train motif dominates the film’s highly contrasted imagery and generated one classic high-angle shot of an empty platform filled within seconds by thousands of commuting travellers.