RK Narayan’s Malgudi may be a fictional town, but a railway station in Shivamogga is set to bring it to life by renaming itself as Malgudi station. Indian Railways has decided to rename Arasalu railway station in Shivamogga district as Malgudi Station as a homage to the location of director-actor Shankar Nag's popular television series – Malgudi Days – some of whose scenes were shot at the old Arasalu railway station.
The series was an adaptation of the heartwarming short stories set in the fictional town of Malgudi written by novelist RK Narayan. The plan to rename the station was confirmed by Shivamogga MP BY Raghavendra, who stated that there was a demand to rename the station after Malgudi Days.
Explaining the process, Deputy General Manager, South Western Railways, E Vijaya told TNM, “For changing names of station, if we receive requests from the pubic or any elected representative, first we have to approach the state government. Then once it is approved, the Railway Ministry takes a decision.”
Shankar Nag, who directed the television series that aired in the 1990s, chose Agumbe and other nearby areas as locations for shooting due to their rustic ambience. Arasalu, with its small railway station in which just two trains passed up and down every day, provided the ideal location for a few of the scenes, something that RK Narayan also approved of after visiting the location of the shoot for the episode based on his story, The Old Man at the Temple.
"Arasalu railway station was perfectly suited to recreate British-era scenes. Every morning we rushed there to record two shots, one for the English version and another for Hindi. The first shot was taken on the right platform. When the train returned after 20 minutes, the second shot was done in the opposite platform. These are evergreen memories," Master Manjunath, who depicted the role of Swami in the television series, told the Times of India.
Scenes depicting the railway station appeared in several episodes of the series and, according to residents of the area, Shankar Nag stayed in Ripponpet, around 6 km from Arasalu, while filming the episodes.
The old station in Arasalu, where the series was shot, is now in ruins and the Indian Railways plans to turn it into a railway museum. The new station, through which five trains pass through every day, will get a makeover at a cost of Rs. 1.3 crore, which will include beautifying the station and renaming it to Malgudi.