To start with, let me say that Chennai Express was not at all what I expected. Largely free of the usual North-South stereotypes and dialogues bursting with double meanings like other Rohit Shetty films, Chennai Express brings back Shah Rukh Khan as the much loved Rahul of the 90’s. Naam to suna hi hoga!
Being a die-hard Shah Rukh fan, it pains me to say that SRK looks his age in the opening scenes though he tries his best to play the role of the 40-year old owner of a huge mithai chain, still living under the care of his ageing grandparents. But once the movie picks up the pace and you get engrossed in the plot, such minor issues tend not to bother you any more and SRK convinces you once more that his lover boy charms are still very much intact!
When his grandfather passes away, Rahul has to go all the way to Rameshwaram to immerse the ashes, his grandmother tells him. For Rahul, this comes off as a never-before chance to head off to Goa with his friends. He boards the Chennai Express and on the way, helps a young South Indian damsel in distress (Deepika Padukone as Meena) to board the train in typical DDLJ fashion.
Soon, her four huge, strappy cousins follow her onto the train and Rahul gets caught in a never-ending tale of lies, action and drama.
Deepika has a refreshingly new role this time – a far cry from the urban Indian woman that she usually plays. Her accent in the movie has, apparently, caused a huge controversy, but to me, the movie stayed away from making fun of any particular community as reported.
The antakshari between Padukone and SRK in the train was hugely comical and would have been a bigger success if the same idea was not repeated over and over again in the movie. Still, it’s always easy to find faults when someone else is doing the job, right?
The scene where Rahul meets Deepika’s father for the first time is beautifully picturised near, I believe, Dudh Sagar waterfalls, and deserves a special mention.
Sathyaraj plays the role of Deepika’s father – a local don in Komban village, who has arranged for his daughter’s marriage to another gunda and villain of the movie, Tangabali. Nikitin Dheer is huge and menacing as SRK’s main rival – Tangabali.
Rahul and Meena keep trying to escape the clutches of her father and Tangabali several times. During one such escape, they find their way to a nearby peace-loving village, which welcomes the duo, after Meena lies to them about being newly-married to Rahul. Though the ‘village’ looks suspiciously like a resort, the couple spends a few peaceful days together at the end of which Meena falls in love with Rahul, who is still trying to make sense of the unbelievable mess he is trapped in.
Predictably, Rahul realizes his love for Meena towards the end and decides to take on her father and Tangabali head on for once and for all to clear up the air.
Apart from the peppy item song filmed with Priyamani and the final Lungi dance – which is been publicized as a tribute to Rajnikant – the other songs fail to make a mark.
If you are trying to apply logic and reason to each and every scene, you will be disappointed. But if you are looking for a classic Bollywood entertainer with lots of romance, comedy and action, then it’s time to board the ‘Chennai Express’!