Chennai Express

Movie review by Sindhu Ravuri

Rohit Shetty Strikes Gold with "Chennai Express'

My Rating: 3.5/5

From the word Po, Rohit Shetty’s latest endeavor, "Chennai Express," screams entertainment, solicits countless laughs, and guarantees to satiate everyone’s thirst for sheer jocularity. Not only is the film refreshingly unique from the usual dose of hero-centric comic projects which are characteristic of Bollywood cinema, but it simply never ceases to keep the audience members craving for more witty one-liners and excruciatingly hysterical scenes, amongst the other engaging features of a quintessential Rohit Shetty work.

The premise of the story follows the simple lifestyle of a Mumbai halwai, Rahul Mithaiwala, who lives with his grandparents. Subsequent to his grandfather’s untimely demise, Rahul is asked by his grandmother to pour her husband’s ashes in Rameshwaram, located in the southern most part of India. Rahul, somewhat apathetic towards his dadiji’s sentiments, instead plans to travel to Goa to live his life on his own terms, a trip during which he meets Meenalochni Azhagusundaram (Deepika Padukone). How they affect each other’s lives, and how Rahul consequently undergoes a dramatic change, is what forms the crux of the film.

Being of Andhra Pradesh origin myself, I truly felt that the film portrayed South India’s religious, colorful, and familial atmosphere perfectly, encompassing the ineffably breathtaking temples, warm communal nature, and traditionalistic rituals of the region beautifully. In addition, the magic recreated by the Padukone-Khan duo reminiscent of the 2007 super-hit "Om Shanti Om" lit up the screen, whether it was their interesting bickering or their developing romance.

You may ask how can a man who is on the verge of 50 and a woman who is still in her 20s make such an exciting and novel couple. Although the disparity between the ages of these two stars would normally bother me, one of the refreshing facets of this film is that Shah Rukh Khan’s age is not attempted to be concealed in any way. In fact, there is even a scene where Padukone’s character lightly mocks Khan’s older appearance. However, this is not the only original aspect of this seemingly typical comedy.

The fact that the first name I saw in big bold letters at the start of the film was Deepika Padukone already illustrated to me that "Chennai Express," was going to be different from the usual taste of a masala picture, which innately demonstrates sexism on some level. In fact, one of the essential attributes of the film was that Meenamma, as she was often called, would consistently salvage Rahul from mortal danger through her intellect, rather than the hero having to protect the confused damsel in distress from the jaws of peril.

Moreover, I think it is quite safe to say that Padukone’s character carries much of the comedic and impactful weight of "Chennai Express." In fact, one of the most amusing scenes in the movie is completely about her! Her and SRK fully complement each other’s respective forms of comic interpretation. Even during emotional moments, she is able to successfully execute the desired facial expressions, all the way to the mere glint in her eyes. Contrary to my expectations, she actually did partake in much of action and plotting of the film, rather than just serving as SRK’s romantic interest, which I found particularly great.

Even though SRK is able to act his end of the comic line extremely well too, something in his delivery misses the mark, and I don’t feel as satisfied with his performance as I usually am. He perfectly addresses the nuances in his character, though, and makes up for his perhaps shaky comedic performance with his passionate speech towards the end of the film, ardent emotion being his forte. His sentiments were just so palpable!

However, this future super-hit’s sentimentality could not have been so perfectly accentuated if it were not for the superb background score masterfully created by impressive duo Vishal and Shekhar. When there were laughable moments, the uplifting title track tune was played, but when there were emotive scenes, an inspiring and soul-lifting melody permeated the screen. It was the icing on top of a fantastic cake.

All in all, if you are looking for a light-hearted, hilarious, yet uniquely novel action film to lift up your spirits, definitely watch "Chennai Express." It’s totally worth it.