For once, I am actually very happy with the way a movie is marketed. There is no misbranding here. An SRK starrer romance & a Rohit Shetty action-packed comedy. Put these two together and what you get is 'Chennai Express'.
But, I must confess that I was the least thrilled by the trailer of Chennai Express. I expected it to be another loud, irksome comedy. In other words, a total disaster like 'Tees Maar Khan'. In fact, even a few minutes after the movie started, I was fully convinced that all I am going to write in this review is bad stuff. But the fact that in next few paragraphs you are actually going to read a lot more positive stuff means that somewhere down the line the crazy mad comedy wins over and manages to tickle one's funny bone.
Agreed, that its a "logic put aside" film but its a thorough entertainer. You should not expect anything substantial in terms of story as Rahul & Meenamma themselves sing their way to the glory warning us of this "Kahaani Bedhangi"!
Yes, you have SRK introducing himself as "Rahul, Naam To Suna Hi Hoga" for the umpteenth time, making the girl fall in love with him on an adventure trip of its own kind when she is already engaged to someone else, singing & dancing to the tunes in his signature King Khan step. Throw in some Rohit Shetty trademark action sequences, cars in hues of pink & orange blowing off in the air and a funny script. 'Chennai Express' offers all of this and a lot more.
Deepika Padukone! She is such a revelation in 'Chennai Express'.
For once, the female lead is not mere ornamental in these kind of action packed comedies that are churned out from the likes of Rohit Shetty Factory. Whom you see is not a new-comer who debuted against the king of romance 6 years ago in 'Om Shanti Om'. Deepika Padukone is very much there in every frame and carries the burden of the film on her shoulders brilliantly. She is adorable in the film. Her forced accent, expressions, infectious smile with those lovely dimples, you just can't not fall in love with her. She looks beautiful in the traditional south indian outfits throughout the film and for me was the best thing that could have happened to 'Chennai Express'. Kudos to Rohit Shetty for having casted her as Meenamma. After watching the movie, you just cannot imagine anybody but her doing the part. She comes across as the character so convincingly that you forget the way we identify her offscreen. Not once does the SRK persona outshine her. Honestly, I would not hesitate to state that it is actually the other way round!
Visually, its very colorful. Every thing from Deepika to the train track surrounded by lush green hills, waterfalls , tea gardens, colorful costumes, south indian temples look splendid.
I wish I could say the same about SRK himself. He looks terribly old (apparently thats why for the first time we have our hero announcing himself as 40 in a love story where age has nothing to do with the story otherwise, and the heroine mockingly calls him even 50 as well). He hams a lot throughout the movie. Though we know that this movie is all about exaggeration & over-acting but in his case, it looks obvious and a tad too much over the top. In the initial scenes, before Deepika Padukone makes her entry, his expressions & dialog delivery make you feel that you are watching a Stage Nautanki. All the other characters only add to the drama.
Speaking of other characters, how I wish Kamini Kaushal (as dadi ji) should have got some more screen time. I remember her as hosting a puppet based kids show on Television years ago. Surprisingly her voice still has that charm & perk in it. All other characters (too many of them) including the huge goons, girl's father, relatives are OK in their part. No complaints.
SRK might be a let down for his fans but the whole package is not. Its a comedy set in a crazy world. After a while into the movie and everything starts sinking in. So much so that the only scenes where Rahul & Meenamma actually make a serious sensible conversation seem out of place and not normal for the setup.
'Chennai Express' can easily be labeled as the official ambassador of a grand merger between the 2 biggest Indian film industries: Bollywood & Tollywood. One of the songs says just that, "North South ki kat gai dekho doori hi saari". There is more Tamil in this Bollywood film than Hindi or English. But you still enjoy it. The funny one liners, the obviously forced south-indian accents, dance moves, everything is hilarious.
Deepika as already stated excels in this. Every time she says something in her accented hindi, its a hit with the audience. Right from her "Kya Hui?" to "Jab Main Kuch Bolti, Tum Apni Mundi Hilati" and "Hum Jahan Pe Khadi Ho Jati, Station Wahin Se Shuru Hoti" , she steals the show hands down. Same with SRK's experiments with Tamil, "Ready Steady Po" and the way he calls Meenamma as 'Miss Subtitle'. It's a funny script. The way they use all SRK hit songs to talk with each other so that others don't understand is hilarious too.
Music by Vishal & Shekhar mostly has a South Indian touch, keeping it in sync with film's mood. It has perky (Kashmir Main Tu Kanyakumari), fun (title song), soft & romantic (Titli) and thoughtful (Tera Rastaa Chhodoon na), all shades at the right places. A very apt tribute to Rajnikanth & the 'Lungi Dance' as well when the end credits roll and we get to see Deepika as her own glam self.
Having said that, it comes with its share of flaws. The climactic speech followed by a long action sequence that seems never ending. SRK's encounter with a weird man in the woods & the whole Sri Lankan episode look unnecessary. An attempt is made at women liberation in the 66th year of Indian independence but better choose a podium more suited for this purpose. This is a fun film and such serious conversations look out of the place rather than serving as a food for thought. There was no need of a sudden "Yes, I am a bad guy" kind of an outburst from SRK. The whole introduction thing with Dadaji's 99th birthday & asthi visarjan could have been a bit more sensible but I guess that is asking too much.
Off late, Rohit Shetty has started putting his own masala in the evergreen classics. Like "Bol Bachhan" was a tribute to Golmaal, 'Chennai Express' is DDLJ revisited. You have the iconic train scene done here again (with 3 additional heavy installments) . SRK plays Rahul yet again. The girl is engaged to the bad guy but falls in love with apna Rahul during her time out of the house. Rahul is adamant to not run away with the girl before taking due permission from her father even if it takes fighting all the bad guys, and blood sprouting out of literally every part of his face with every bone in his body broken. The only minus here is that the girl's dad actually let goes her wrist but does NOT utter "Ja Jee Le Apni Zindagi". After all the things taken away from DDLJ, I wonder why this one was left out.
On the whole this one is a good entertainer. There are no absurd, double meaning jokes. Don't expect a lot from the film.
Just as they say, 'Ticket Khareed Ke Baith Ja Seat Pe' if you want to have a hearty laugh with your family this Eid weekend. I am sure you will have more than one. As long as the South-Indians & Halwaiis don't take an offense at the light hearted jokes in the film, 'Chennai Express' definitely deserves a ride. At the end of the journey, you will find many people shouting "Don't Underestimate The Common of a Power Man"! :D
[The author's opinion does not necessarily reflects the editor's opinion, which is the case with Lungi Dance being an apt tribute.]