‘The Railway Men’ is a Netflix TV mini-series helmed by director Shiv Rawail. The historical drama thriller is inspired by the true events of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy, and highlights the selfless courage shown by a few individuals in the face of death. The protagonists are composites representing anecdotes, with multiple real-life personalities from similar backgrounds being merged into one. The series follows a Central Railways general manager (R. Madhavan) who heads the rescue efforts, a conscientious and kind station master (Kay Kay Menon), a rookie loco pilot (Babil Khan) who rises to the occasion, and a robber (Divyenndu) posing a constable facing a moral dilemma.
Most of the series revolves around the Bhopal Junction railway station, as thousands attempt to flee from the gas via train, and trains entering the station have to be stopped. The control rooms, the Union Carbide insecticide plant, and the railway station itself are portrayed in a gritty and grounded manner. The show is steeped in realism matching its dark subject matter, from its characters, and acting to its sets. Looking at such true-to-life backdrops, you may wonder where the filming for the show actually takes place.
The Railway Men Filming Locations
The Railway Men was not filmed at the site of the tragedy, filming instead took place almost entirely on sets built in Mumbai. Principal photography began in December of 2021 and was wrapped up by the middle of 2022. The mini-series was initially set to air in December 2022 but faced delays due to pending VFX work. Let’s take a closer look at the filming location for ‘The Railway Men.’
The historical thriller created a backdrop for its scenes entirely within the Bollywood capital of Mumbai. In an interview with The Hindu, director Shiv Rawail talks about building sets for the film within the campus of Mumbai University, Kalina. He approached YRF (Yash Raj Films) and requested funds for a true-to-life, full-scale, functioning railway station with moving trains. In a bold move, the producers at YRF greenlit the fledgling director’s proposal and work began to level the ground and build the entire complex.
The land at Mumbai University’s Kalina campus was leased to the studio for the massive undertaking. The university rents out its land for government and private projects alike to raise money. Every set seen in the show from the industrial complex to the offices, waiting room, and railway tracks has been built there. The institution allotted five acres on its Kalina campus next to the Ambedkar Bhavan for eight months. However, there was some controversy regarding the rate at which the deal was closed and additional perks given to the film crew. Articles in the Times of India allege a fifty percent discount was given to the studio by the vice-chancellor without due clearance and conditions.
The Mumbai University’s old campus is considered a heritage property, having been constructed in the 1850s. The University is now one of the largest university systems in the world, with 711 affiliate colleges and over 549,000 students as of 2013. Interestingly, Ratan Tata serves as the appointed head of Mumbai University’s advisory council. The University has historically been very strict about lending its campus for film shoots, and has earlier been used for the filming ‘Ferrari Ki Sawaari’ and ‘Saath Saath.’
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