Though parts of it are much superior to the entire product, it still entertains you – 3.5/5.0
Verdict – Though parts of it are much superior to the entire product, it still entertains you.
Disclaimer: You knew what you were bargaining for when you bought the tickets to Chennai Express. A Rohit Shetty film starring SRK with songs like Lungi Dance hogging promotions, the tone of the film was set with no deciet whatsoever from the makers end. Nothing post that justifies one crying hoarse at the cultural bloopers, bad tamil, inconsistent storyline flimsy plot and gaping plot holes and an overall lack of sense and sensibility in the film- you knew what you were getting into from the start. Chennai Express, like all Rohit Shetty films, does not take itself seriously. You do the same and you are sure to enjoy this ride.
Rahul, a 40 yr old bachelor decides to get on a “boy” trip to goa instead of pouring his grand dad’s ashes in Rameshwaram. He ends up getting on to a train with Meenalochini, the daughter of a Goonda don in Tamil Nadu who is running away from a marriage her dad is fixing to expand his reach. The two keep running away till they fall in love, a gazillion cars and obnoxiously obese men fly around and the end credits roll. Chennai Express has a story line that reeks of the shallow pointless 80’s potboilers. What does make the film belong to today’s times is the full blown all guns blazing Rohit Shettiness (by now, he is a school of cinema by himself) strewn across the frames.
Chennai Express takes you through a Tamil Nadu where ponds with ducks abound amidst lush greenery rivalling only the swiss alps; where women folk walk around in Pattu Daavanis (those who do not understand tamil, heard of rapidex?) with lamps in hand as if they were in Incredible India ads; where men roam around pot bellied in crispy white mundus and veerappan mustaches, and where the goons forever look like a walking talking oil factory. Every scene is a riot of colors, designs, motifs- few of them not even remotely south Indian- bursting on the seem with co-ordinated energy. Then there is the Tamil; spoken/murdered/mutilated with elan in a film that almost has half its lines not in Hindi. Glaring culture bloopers, inconsistencies (i still cant understnad why kathakali dancers were in the backgound in a song meant in Tamil Nadu for instance) cannot miss the keen eye, while the labored tamil accent sometimes makes you cringe. Yet one does not get offended cause all of it is done with an innocence that erases all suspicions of mocking any culture.
in fact, the innocence in the proceedings is what retains your interest despite Chennai Express going off track more than once in its two odd hours run time. There are some inspired lunatic comic moments, most of them with Deepika in charge and SRK ably supporting, that leave you in splits- take the sing song dialogues or the nods to most of SRK’s iconic films and even Rajni’s Chandramukhi- while other times, you just yawn awya while the film meanders from one pointless portion to another. There is always a sense of something amiss, and before you can think of the word think, the pace picks up and you stop, well, thinking.
Deepika Padukone as Meenalochini has a role that reminded me of the exuberance of Sridevi in Chaalbaaz and the Star power and screen presence that Madhuri commanded in Raja. Deepika is neither, and has a long long way to go before she can reach that level; having said that, she makes the most of the opportunity and delivers; her inconsistent accent notwithstanding. Remaining cast pales out whenever Deepika or SRK take centre stage, and that is almost every scene of the film.
That brings us to SRK himself. The man knows how to laugh at himself, and in the process get you to laugh with him. SRK in the lvoer boy, the action hero, the dutiful grand child, the good natured samaritan, the udnerstanding man all in one as Rahul. He hams. he charms, he mesmerises with his comic timing and wit, only the way SRK can. Chennai Express sees him in form after a while, and most of his fans would not find this one disappointing.
Colorful, energetic, exuberant and loud, Chennai Expess would have been a much better film had it been able to sustain the magic it has in parts spread all over. The proverbial sum total of the product falls short incomparison to some really inspired moments in the film. However, it is definitely not a bad watch. Keep your brains out, come in a group and have some serious hoot worthy single screen fun.