In an ode to his own cinema—read Golmaal series, Bol Bachchan, Rohit Shetty ishstyle, the director, who has grossers in Bollywood’s 100-crore club, ups the scale for his Eid offering.
Chennai Express (CE) is a magnificently mounted film. Never having been strong in the story department, CE too has a guillible plot line. Rahul ( Shah Rukh Khan) is asked by his dadi (Kamini Kaushal) to drop his granddad’s ashes in Rameswaram, the southern-most tip of India. He boards the Chennai Express to hoodwink granny but has secretly planned a getaway with his guy friends to Goa. Alas, in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge fashion, a damsel in distress, Meena ( Deepika Padukone) asks for his outstretched hand as he stands on the footboard. And his Samaritan act changes his destiny.
He discovers she’s the daughter of a Don from a South-side village and her accompanying cousins (hulks in pony tails) want her to return home. Her father wants Meena to marry another hulk (Niketan Dheer) from a nearby village, so he can then rule two villages. Meena resists and insists to her father (Sathyaraj) that it is Rahul who has her fancy. The father relents but the other hulks resist.
From here on, Rahul constantly tries to outsmart the South Indian mob. And as expected in Indian mainstream cinema, he breaks into song-and-dance, gets drunk, blows up jeeps and does a Jim Carryish over-the-top act to get guffaws from a captive audience.
For what is primarily a Hindi film, there’s too much spoken Tamil. There are cleverly written lines that ask you not to underestimate the south because it even plays a crucial role in the coalition government, but for the rest of India, a lot of the dialogue is lost in translation. Subtitles would be in order.
After Cocktail and Yeh Jaawani Hai Deeewani, Deepika is once again in superlative form. Shah Rukh’s attempts at comedy go from convincing to convoluted. But, for the most part, he lights up the screen with his effervescence.
A 40-year-old Punjabi man is on a mission to immerse his grandfather’s ashes down South. Enroute he meets a young Tamilian girl who has eloped. Their lives entwine and his journey takes an altogether different route.
You may not like the film if Bollywood potboilers leave you cold.
The Times of India