India's Frontier Railways

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The Maitree Express

Series 1 - Episode 1 The Maitree Express

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Review

The gentle rhythms of this documentary from the team behind the award-winning Bombay Railway belie its deeper themes. It follows the Maitree Express, the first passenger train service since the 1960s to run between India and Bangladesh, and while there are plentiful shots of the passing countryside and details of the service’s idiosyncrasies – disembarking for hours to go through immigration and customs, twice – the true value is in its cast of characters.

They tell the story of how much the unifying train journey means to both countries, with many happy to have a job on the train, including the poor young man struggling to sell chocolate in 40º heat.

Summary

A collection of films showcasing never-before-filmed international trains crossing various Asian borders. The first episode observes the Maitree Express, the first passenger train to run between India and Bangladesh since the 1971 war of independence with Pakistan. Former freedom fighter Amirul plays announcements and religious tapes while taking the 12-hour, 392km journey. The programme also charts 16-year-old Abdullah who ran away from home, and now sells newspapers on Dhaka's trains and platforms in the hope of a better future, and Aalo who supports his family by selling chocolates to passengers.

Cast & Crew

Narrator Bernard Hill
Director Rajesh Shinde
Executive Producer Grant McKee
Series Director Gerry Troyna
Series Producer Gerry Troyna
Education