Train to Pakistan is a 1998 film adapted from Khushwant Singh’s 1956 classic novel of the same name set in the Partition of India of 1947 and directed by Pamela Rooks. The film stars Nirmal Pandey, Rajit Kapur, Mohan Agashe, Smriti Mishra, Mangal Dhillon and Divya Dutta.
The film is set in Mano Majra which is a silent village on the border of India and Pakistan, close to where the railway line crosses the Sutlej River. The film develops around the love affair of small-time dacoit Juggut Singh (Nirmal Pandey), with a local Muslim girl, Nooran (Smriti Mishra). Mano Majra incidentally was the original title of the book upon its release in 1956. The villagers are a mix of Sikhs and Muslims, who live in harmony. The Sikhs own most of the land, and the Muslims work as laborers. During the summer of 1947, when the Partition of India was taking place, the entire country was a hotbed of extremism and intolerance. The Muslims in India moved towards the newly formed Pakistan, and the Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan migrated to refugee camps in India. One day, a train arrives from Pakistan, which carries bodies of all the travelers who have been butchered while they tried to depart from Pakistan. That is when this quiet village is changed forever.
The film was one of the most anticipated adaptations of its time, especially being writer Khushwant Singh’s most acclaimed work. According to whom several people in past have attempted to make the film, including Shashi Kapoor and Shabana Azmi, who even developed a screenplay, but owing to the sensitivity of the subject, abandoned the project.