CAST & CREW
With the tremendous amount of pre-launch publicity that most big budget films resort to nowadays, there was an excessive level of expectation about this movie. It did not claim to be anything other than a pure entertainer, and perhaps lives to that claim faithfully. In the process Shah rukh Khan has probably showcased his discovery – Deepika once again, but now in her more mature format after graduating through so many successful films with increasingly positive reviews on her acting.
South India has also been showcased in the film as it has never been done before in any mainstream Hindi movie. The plot is simplistic with no claims on any interwoven psychological underplays. Rahul (Shah rukh Khan) showed as a forty-year-old, is travelling by the Chennai Express to Rameswaram to immerse his grandfather’s ashes. He runs into Meena ( Deepika Padukone), in the same train, after her failed attempt to run away from her gangster father who had been forcing her into marriage with another goon Thangabali ( Nikitin Dheer). Rahul tries to save her from her Kingkong-look-alike cousins escorting her back. What follows is not the typical tough hero bashing up the goons scenario. Rather the various battle between Rahul and the toughies is presented in a rather humorous fashion more on the lines of old Kishore Kumar movies. This sets the tone for the rest of the film, where Shah Rukh Khan comes through in the modern version of a romantic though slightly aged lover boy, who also is the embodiment of the daredevil simpleton having the mental strength to take up the strongest when cornered. But what stands out most is the comprehensive package that Deepika presents, showing once again the rapid strides she has made in her acting, helped as she is, in portraying a native southern role for the first time.
The other role that gets noticed is of Deepika’s authoritative dad, Durga Raju, portrayed by Sathyaraj and it is not just imposing physical presence that conveys toughness, but the expressions in his eyes that do it more subtly. Nikitin Dheer too looks admirably suited as the villain chosen to marry Deepika, and with his demeanour and delivery seems just the right material for the next generation villain For Rohit Shetty, the director, this has come as a great opportunity to combine his forte of pure humour, as displayed in the Golmaal type films he churned out earlier, and paste it on a superstar hero heroine romantic backdrop. Sure other innovations like the ode to Thalaiva Rajinikanth in the form the Lungi Dance song seems patently meant to soothe southern nerves, lest this film with its name, locale and characters be misconstrued as Bollywood planning to capture the southern citadel taking the route of “Chennai Express”.
There is originality even in the idea of having the dialogues of locals in Tamil itself, making it sound natural while at the same time keeping it simple for the non-Tamil audience, aided by ‘vocal subtitles’ coming from Deepika. So all in all, although the journey by “Chennai Express” may seem a bit longish at times with too many platforms thrown in, it's does succeed in entertaining with its combination of superhero stunts, loud drama and dialogues, balanced duly with doses of humour; and photography by Dudley, which captures the South in its picturesque best. These are ingredients in the film that can satisfy a large variety of audience, the last but not the least of which would be its foot tapping music by SRK’s now trusted duo of Vishal-Shekhar. So indeed SRK has got it right this time and steered “Chennai Express” to the good ‘platform.'
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