After months of anticipation and release date hassles and an extended promotion campaign which can only be termed as a promotion blitzkrieg, Chennai Express finally chugs into theatres today. The expectations from the film are evidently huge because Chennai Express marks the coming together of one of the country’s biggest Superstars with one of the biggest directors in the form of Rohit Shetty. Other factors are also with it.
The Eid release, Deepika Padukone as the lead actress and the masala commercial genre. For obvious purposes, this film is not aiming to be critically acclaimed. And, the critic reviews aren’t even going to matter when it comes to its Box office returns.
Chennai Expres Movie Review: Starring Shahrukh Khan, Deepika Padukone
Story: Chennai Express is about a 40 year old guy named Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) who has been under the care of his grandparents. He has to go from Mumbai to Rameshwaram to immerse his dead grandfather’s ashes. And the train journey brings a great twist in his life. He witnesses a murder on the aptly titled, Chennai Express and has to travel with the goons to their village. Also accompanying them is the daughter of the local don, Meenamma (Deepika Padukone). Then the story finally moves forward in the train, then in the village. All of this was evident from the trailer itself, and I am not going to spoil the movie for you by giving away the storyline.
Screenplay and Direction: Chennai Express is not unlike any of Rohit Shetty’s previous films. But it is not a Golmaal 3 (full comedy) or Singham (full action masala) either. Chennai Express has elements of all the genres that make up a masala entertainer in Hindi cinema – it has shades of romance, action, drama, but the overlying emotion is comedy. The jokes don’t always come together and the gags border on lameness, but don’t tell me you went to watch a Rohit Shetty film expecting it to make sense! Unlike Ramaiya Vastavaiya which was a total wreck even in the masala romance genre, Chennai Express does manage to save face with Rohit Shetty’s past experience of superhit films coming to rescue the film. The film is mostly always enjoyable and illicits quite a few laughs when it is self-aware about the type of film they are attempting. And no, I don’t think anyone in South India should be offended by anything in the film because the jokes come across as harmless, even though a bit forced.
Miscellaneous: The other aspects of the film are appropriate for the masala genre. The cinematography does justice to the planning of the shots, but the production design is patchy. It lacks the component of class unlike Shah Rukh Khan’s past few films. The editing is there. The editor seemed to bring the film down to a respectable 140 minutes, so that’s a job well done, I am assuming. The costume designs are a bit stereotypical and loud as expected from masala films like Chennai Express.
Music: Although the music has been termed as average ever since the album was released in the public domain, the late inclusion of Lungi Dance has made things better for the album. Kashmir Main Tu Kanyakumari is colourful and joyous and is a treat to watch on the big screen. 1234, Titli, Tera Rastaa Na Chhodoon Na might not stay with you after the film but they are enjoyable in their own right. All in all, the soundtrack is not a disappointment but it is also not a classic commercial movie soundtrack.
Acting: Chennai Express requires Shah Rukh Khan just to play himself or even ham it up when required. And that is exactly what he has done. He has hammed it a bit, but that’s what this film needed. His comic timing is also very good. He seems to have had a lot of fun playing Rahul. But the person who will be talked about the most after Chennai Express is Deepika Padukone. Her accent is a total laugh riot and so is she! She thankfully doesn’t overdo the accent as was being feared by many. Her dialogues and accent could become iconic if the film becomes a big hit. Nikitin Dheer is menacing as Tangaballi and is fine in this film although his acting skills are questionable. Sathyaraj , the famous Tamil actor, plays Deepika’s father in the film and is good enough for his first outing in Hindi cinema. Mukesh Tiwari is funny as the cop.
Conclusion: The film works because the dull moments are few and far between. The South Indian flavour might put off a few but nobody would be offended. The first half of the film is genuinely funny and the second half lags behind a bit. But the climax is great. That increases the box office chances of the film by a great deal. Forget the film reviews by us snobby critics and go watch Chennai Express and usher in the Eid festivities. This train is anything but a train-wreck.
Box Office: The opening of the film is going to be record-breaking and will help the film create news. I expect the film to be liked by the family and mass audiences. Not that the ‘classes’ will hate it. 150cr is a target that shouldn’t be beyond the reach of Chennai Express.
- The brisk pace of the film
- The entertainment quotient and funny set-pieces
- The action scenes are typical Rohit Shetty ishtyle
- Lungi Dance and Kashmir Kanyakumari song
- SRK and Deepika Padukone
- Production Design
- Over the top and forced jokes
Rating: 3 and a half stars.