Chennai Express – Film Review
It’s been long since I did a film review. Not that the films I watched in-between where not review worthy, just that, what with live tweeting and facebook status updates from the movie theatre itself, I have run out of things to say on the movie by the time I came home and sat down to do a proper review on the blog. But as they say, a time comes for everything and Shah Rukh Khan has made me write a review post again with his new film Chennai Express.
The film is produced by Red Chillies Entertainment, his own banner and helmed by Rohit Shetty the man who has made an art form of re-making southern blockbusters into Hindi movies. Chennai Express is again one such re-make of the Mahesh Babu starrer Okkadu (in Telugu) later remade as Gilli in Tamil starring Vijay- both of them taking the lead actor known for his romantic hero’s role and establishing them as the action heroes of their industry. But if you go expecting an out and out action film with the promos in mind, you will be surprised for this film is more of a comedy than an action thriller- quite unlike the originals.
The story, well to tell the truth, there is not much of a story, but you don’t miss it that much with the engaging screenplay with never a dull moment on screen. Anyway the story starts with Shahrukh’s granddad dying off and making a last wish for his ashes to be dissolved in the sea off Rameshwaram. Shah Rukh, free at last of his overbearing and controlling grandfather, who has brought him up all these years with an iron fist after his parents’ death in a car accident, plans to take a side trip from Rameswaram to Goa. For as per the story the hero is a 40 year old bachelor who has spent all his time looking after their ancestral sweet stall business rather than do normal stuff like dating or getting married.
Anyway with grandpa’s ashes in tow Shahrukh boards the Chennai express planning to get off halfway and visit Goa to have fun with “foreign” girls- as his friends advise him to do. Unfortunately for him in a straight lift off from his mega hit Dilwale Dulhaniya Leh Jayegi movie- he gives a hand to the heroine Deepika Padukone who is running hard to try and board the train. In aparody of that famous scene – SRK also gives a hand to lift up four other guys who are running behind Deepika. And then starts the non-stop fun.
Hero learns that the heroine is being chased by goondas, the same fellows he helped board up the train and he does what any self respecting action hero would do- frightened, he climbs up and lies down shivering on the upper birth to conceal himself from the goondas. This is one of the most hilarious scenes in the movie as the hero learns the entire back-story from the heroine through an antakshari competition- for while heroine can speak hindi, her kidnappers cant. So hero and heroine communicate exclusively through singing old hindi songs and adapting the lyrics to the situation.
Anyway the goondas on being asked for their tickets by the railways TTE throw the Ticket Examiner out of the train for which hero becomes an unwilling eye witness. Hence they make him get down with them (and the heroine) at their hometown railway station- planning to kill him off at their own sweet time. And heroine trying to save the hero’s life, tells her dad- the Don of their town- that she is in love with the hero and poor hero who doesn’t know the language they are talking in, nods his head in agreement. And then the fun starts. All this is within the first half an hour of the movie.
The rest of the movie is about how the two escape from the village and flee down south to Rameswaram where Shahrukh fulfils his grandfathers dying wish and on the journey slowly fall in love with each other- until Shahrukh decides to man it up and return to heroines village – to bash up the baddies in the climax and prove that true love always wins with the awesome (clap worthy) dialogue – “I have decided to stop running and face my problems- your father”. A dialogue which I am sure a lot of guys in love would borrow in coming years.
Satyaraj as the heroine Deepika’s father – Periyathalai, underplays himself with nods and grimaces and not many dialogues till the climax where he spoofs Amrish in DDLJ (again) by saying “Meena thera”. Most of the film is a spoof on one or the other of SRK’s films and unless you are a fan boy of Bollywood you would miss most of the inside jokes. For me the joke of the movie is when ShahRukh tells Deepika about his parents death and say that since he was 8 years old he has lived a lonely life and then the heroine asks (in a first for hindi movies) – “so after that for Pachees saal (50 years) you have lived alone?”. The entire theatre broke out in claps at this dig on aged heroes of Indian cinema romancing heroines half their age. But it took a Shah Rukh Khan to boldly agree to such a dialogue not minding his superstar image.
There are no fights as such in the movie- till the very end when hero shows “the power of the common man”. Songs are hummable but may not stick to your mind for very long. Except for the Thalaiva song- a tribute to Rajnikant- which plays with the end credits and is such a good song that it’s wasted there- so don’t leave immediately after the climax fight. The item song with Priyamani and Shah Rukh doing a Kuthu dance- goes something like 1,2,3,4 get on the dance floor sound eerily similar to a recent song starring Rani Mukherjee and Prithiviraj- but I am no expert on music and can’t say for certain and leave it to better judges.
Downers? Well if you are in the mood to nitpick then there are always a dozen things you can pick on – like how there is a been there/seen that feel to the storyline and how the hero rahul continues to call the heroine meenamma, using the tamil honorific amma after the characters name- meena, even after he is told her real name. And Deepika’s “tameel” accent jars a bit which makes me wonder why no one corrected her at least during the dubbing. But taking all the downers pass over pretty swiftly because of the smart screenplay.
Verdict- For those who love spoof movies – this is the movie of the year and not to be missed. SRK spoofs everybody, including himself mercilessly and the result is highly entertaining. The film is a laugh riot from beginning to end, except for some sagging romantic bits in the middle. There’s an insane bit of tomfoolery with the midget actor Kingkong and Shah Rukh miming various modes of transport, just before the interval, which had me in splits. My overall verdict is – the movie is full paisa vasool. If you need some mindless entertainment for stress relief – this is the movie to watch. And King Khan’s back with a bang.