Chennai Express


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Chennai Express is a Hindi romantic comedy starring Shahrukh Khan and Deepika Padukone. It is a Rohit Shetty film.

The film is about the by chance meeting of a Tamil girl (Meenamma) and a Punjabi boy (Rahul) on the Chennai Express. Somehow Rahul lands up in Meenamma’s hometown and Meenamma lies that they are lovers so that she can get out of an arranged marriage. The rest of the film is about how Meenamma and Rahul escape the wrath of Meenamma’s family and the marriage that is being forced on Meenamma.

I didn’t have specific expectations from this film, I didn’t think that it would be amazing or anything like that. But still, I felt disappointed and a little bit cheated. It really wasn’t that great and I think the reason is the combination of poor story and performances. The film’s promotions also confused me.

It was revealed many months before that the film was about a a boy and girl travelling on the Chennai Express. So I thought that almost all of the film took place in the train and these two were traveling to the same destination. Well that’s partly true, but they’re not alone on the train and then they get off the train even before the interval. And there is no love blooming between them all through this time.

 

I might be biased about Chennai Express because I have seen a lot of South films and I’m familiar with South stories and South Indian culture and accent. Chennai Express doesn’t have a special story, it’s the same story found in every other South Indian film. Marriage is forced upon the girl and she tries to get out of it. The girl’s father is a big don and there is always lots of fights and blood spilling everywhere. The only difference in Chennai Express is that the boy is North Indian and he doesn’t even love the girl! And he can’t fight. And he has a terrible sense of humor. And he’s old enough to be her dad.

The other problem with the story is that Rahul’s love for Meenamma was not convincing. He suddenly fell in love with her right at the end of the movie, no explanation given. Meenamma’s love was explained and Deepika portrayed it well.  But Rahul doesn’t seem like a guy that would fight for Meenamma’s love.

And what about that fight sequence at the climax? I have seen some very crazy fight sequences in South films, but this fight sequence was the craziest. Which human being can survive so many deadly blows to the head? And then they hug like nothing happened? Rahul should have collapsed and died from concussion and brain damage. Thangaballi too. Shahrukh hits the guy in the head with a propane cylinder. ROFL.

Shahrukh was almost the worst part about this film. He is one of my favorite actors but he was very irritating in this film. Over-acting does not equal funny and that’s all Shahrukh seemed to do —overact. His performance was very similar to his other performances and at one point, it just seemed like he was acting like himself and not his character.

Deepika was better than Shahrukh performance wise, she was more natural and she really seemed like a South Indian girl in most scenes. Deepika’s problem was her fake South Indian accent that was only convincing in two scenes of the movie. In order to make what she thinks is a South Indian accent, she made her voice very thick at times. I thought I was listening to a transvestite (no offense meant). I have no idea why she did that and I have no idea how Rohit Shetty believes that this is what a South Indian accent should sound like. Just terrible! Moreover, in that emotional scene after Rahul dispersed his grandfather’s ashes, Deepika completely forgot to use her South accent!

Deepika said in an interview that she wasn’t getting this accent right and kept working on it and then one day she just “got it.” So clearly, she was casted for the film without the director or producer even worrying about whether she would get the accent right or not. I don’t blame them because isn’t Deepika South Indian? Deepika is a talented and beautiful girl but I think someone else would have been better in this role. Maybe someone like Asin or Genelia – people who have acted in the South industry for years–  would have been better.

I can’t say that Chennai Express is outright horrible, it did have its moments. There were some scenes that were very funny like the DDLJ train scene and Meenamma’s night time transformation into a Chandramukhi like character. Maybe Deepika should be casted for an Arundhati remake. And then there is the scene when Shahrukh is carrying Meenamma up the steps to the temple which was very touching.

The music of the film is decent. I like Kashmir Tu Main Kanyakumari, Lungi Dance and Titli. Titli is my favorite song, it’s very beautiful. And I can watch Bharatanatyam all day.

If you haven’t seen Chennai Express, consider it if you’re a fan of Deepika. This is Deepika’s film all the way.

EDIT: I’ve gotten a lot of feedback about my review from my IF friends. Majority of IFers seem to have liked the movie and especially Deepika’s performance. They think that I over-analyzed the film and that the performances and Deepika’s accent was supposed to be OTT because it’s a comedy film. Moreover, Rohit Shetty is known for OTT films (like Bol Bachchan). I still hold the same opinion about the film but I understand that it was very entertaining for other people. So you should probably see the film and decide for yourself.

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