“Chennai Express”… Oh darling, yeh hai Vindhya!

Rohit Shetty’s Chennai Express is something of a first: a “North Indian” film where South Indians, however caricatured, come off better. As the story begins, we’re introduced to the token North Indian – Rahul, played by Shah Rukh Khan. His parents are dead, and he lives with his grandparents, who raised him and ensured that, thanks to a successful family business, he’ll not want for anything. And, when this doting (if also suffocating) grandfather passes on, how does Rahul repay his debt? By making a plan with friends to hang out in Goa – where he’ll most likely get laid – instead of honouring the grandfather’s last wish, which is to have his ashes dispersed in the holy waters of Rameswaram. Rahul’s grandmother (Kamini Kaushal) tells him that she cannot trust anyone else with this task, and yet, he lies to her, orchestrating the elaborate charade of booking a ticket on the titular train, and when, at the station, she says it doesn’t go to Rameswaram, he cooks up another lie on the spot, all the while planning to hop off at the next stop and join his friends. Worse, wherever he goes, he keeps forgetting about that urn of ashes.

Hosted by imgur.com

And when, due to circumstances (otherwise known as masala-movie screenwriting), he ends up in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, he’s lost. He mocks the locals who converse in languages that sound funny to him, but they have the last laugh. They may speak accented and grammatically incorrect Hindi, but they do speak the language (sometimes Marathi too) – and if they found themselves stranded in the North, they would have no problem getting around. (When, finally, Rahul attempts a speech in Tamil, it sounds like he’s gargling with marbles – all you can do is laugh.) In addition, the South Indians are hospitable. They are considerate about the repercussions of their actions, as when Meenamma (Deepika Padukone) tells Rahul that if they make a run for it, then the villagers who gave them shelter will never help elopers again. They care about family. (They wouldn’t forget about an urn of a relative’s ashes that came into their custody.) They’re stronger, better built, and sometimes (as in the case of Sathyaraj, who plays Meenamma’s father) as fair-complexioned as Rahul is. And they’re good in a crunch. When Rahul gets lost in a forest, he has to depend on Meenamma to guide him to safety. Viewed through the prism of gender stereotypes, she does the man’s job, while he’s content — at least for a while – to set afloat little lamps in a pond, surrounded by smiling housewives.

Given that Shah Rukh is, by far, the hero who’s embraced his feminine side the most, he’s a perfect fit in this part. It’s been a while since he did pure comedy – reveling in the kind of silliness we saw in Baadshah, the Farah Khan outings, and the Chandni Chowk portions of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham – and Chennai Express gives him (and his game heroine) plenty of opportunity to cut loose. Even the death of the grandfather is presented as a well-timed gag. After all, as Rahul says, why mourn the demise of someone who’s lived long enough to see the country pass from the AIR era to the age of Twitter? An episode that has Meenamma acting possessed is a hoot, as is the communication between hero and heroine via corny rewordings of popular songs. But an equal number of gags stop short of hitting bull’s-eye. Shetty has become known as a director of blockbuster comedies, but he seems incapable of shaping anything but the most basic kind of humour. There’s a fantastic (in concept) bit with a little person who speaks in guttural clicks, but it results in smiles rather than laughs. And the “meet me in the store room” scene, which promises all sort of confusion between various couples, isn’t developed to its fullest. Shetty settles for an easy finish.

The surprise, though, is that Shetty proves far better with romance. He should really be doing love stories. After a sluggish start, Chennai Express – which, if you must know, is about Rahul and Meenamma finding out that opposites (namely, North and South) attract – really gets going around interval point, when the leads find themselves in an idyllic village with nothing to do but flirt and perhaps fall in love. The gags work. The songs work. (Kashmir main tu Kanyakumari, on screen, is a joy.) And Shah Rukh and Deepika settle into a great groove. Seeing these sweetly lighthearted portions, it becomes clear that the problem with Shetty’s earlier films lay, to a large extent, with the leading man. Ajay Devgn is an impressive brooder, and given the right kind of dramatic part, he can put on a show – but a loose comedian he isn’t. The reason Bol Bachchan and Chennai Express work(ed), at least in parts, is due to the casting of actors far more at home with the silly stuff.

That’s why the closing portions of Chennai Express are all wrong. Suddenly, we see Shah Rukh go all macho on us – this is where a Devgn would have been effortless – and the prolonged brutalities that ensue have no place in a film like this. (There’s a reason Manmohan Desai never got all realistic and bloody about violence in his 1970s phase, which was essentially lighthearted, and which is what Shetty apparently wants to emulate.) Couldn’t they have found a funny way to appease Meenamma’s father – instead of that ridiculously melodramatic speech – and have Rahul walk away with her? Still, given the material, Shetty does more right than wrong – the film could have been called Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa. (And special thanks for having the Tamil actors speak Tamil, instead of going all “Madrasi” on us.) Shetty fashions a Shah Rukh Khan showreel, borrowing bits from his greatest hits, and gives us an unfettered avatar of the star that the star himself has seemed somewhat ashamed, of late, to embrace. Who knew that this quintessentially North Indian performer would rediscover himself in the South?

Copyright ©2013 Baradwaj Rangan. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

46 thoughts on ““Chennai Express”… Oh darling, yeh hai Vindhya!

  1. Baradwaj, good review, i was hoping for sure you’ll mention the DDLJ train scene joke, thats the kind of humor you’ll love.. i was sure :D

    Like

  2. bottomline, BRangan enjoyed the experience ;-)

    Though I would go with all of your reasoning (especially the romance & Ajay Devgan parts), I feel the to-be-laughter than end up as a smile was a constant throughout the film. Not only the funny portions, even the serious whistle worthy scenes such as the ‘Ghilli/Okadu style heroine kidnapping, Alexpandian style tyre puncturing couldn’t reach its potential. Very rarely did the film raise up to the occasion and pull you into the happenings. For any ‘entertainer’ isn’t that the prerequisite?

    Like

  3. You did manage to watch the movie. In Thimpu ? Anyways, I liked CE for what it was – a light, ‘not to be taken too seriously’ masala film. I thought Deepika overshadowed SRK in the movie overall, and was hilarious in the ‘possessed’ scene.

    Like

  4. I have loathed Shahruk Khan with a vehemence since his Kuch Kuch Hota hai days. I think SRK is an abomination set upon the Bollywood watching public to atone for the cinemetic sins of the 80s and 90s. Every time I am forced to watch a SRK movie by friends and family, I cringe like a man with a terrible itch in his back which he can’t scratch. The smug demeanor, the exaggerated and melodramatic dialog delivery, the scratchy voice, the hamminess, the predictablity of it all in every movie has made him intolerable to my sensibilities. The only movie of his in the last 10 years that I have managed to sit through, without jumping like a cat on a hot stove, is Chak De and even there I kept thinking throughout how much better a job a real actor would have done with the coach’s role. I was hoping that Chennai Express will be a colossal critical and commerical disaster which will diminish futher the declining aura of this fake superstar and eventually will make him go away. Alas, it seems that the movie is a monster hit and even critics like BR didn’t mind it much so the SRK express is really not going anywhere.

    Like

  5. From the trailers, it seemed they got quite a few elements right about tamil movies based in a village. But Deepika’s atrocious accent and the kerala style costumes for a tamil gal put me off.

    I have never ever watched a Rohit shetty movie but your review is making curious to catch this one. If not just to see tamil being spoken in a hindi movie.

    Ps: you always have a line about SRK’s performance for all his movies, you know. Good or bad. quite unusual for you. I am thinking it has a bit to do with the hype surrounding the actor.

    Like

  6. I’m greatly pleased by your review and I’m glad you enjoyed the movie without nitpicking about cultural inaccuracies of Tamil Nadu.

    It really is a delightful film to watch, even if it’s something we won’t remember down the line. (and some special mention is deserved for Lungi Dance, potentially the most absurd, yet funny, song I’ve ever heard)

    Like

  7. My thoughts were more or less similar:

    Just back from Chennai Express. I must confess I haven’t seen any of the Rohit Shetty films , on big or small screen, since Zameen. The trailer of this one hadn’t particularly impressed me and it had been an effort sitting through Shahrukh’s last, Jab Tak Hai Jaan. The only reason I went for this one is because my wife is a die-hard Shahrukh fan, and there was no other film that I could take her to this weekend. Ship of Theseus was gone. Even BA Pass wasn’t running. Let me also confess I had to buy the ticket in black, paying double the price for a couple of balcony tickets in a single-screen theater.

    But when the film started, after the trailers of Krissh 3 and Satyagrah, both looking quite good, I was instantly hooked. From the very first frame. There was something of a genuine raconteur’s charm in the way Sharukh voices his grandapa’s story that wins you over right away. The fact that Rahul has no compunction about cheating his granny in taking his grandpa’s ash only till Klayan and not Rameshwaram helps. And the much applauded scene where Rahul helps Meena and her four cousin-cum-kidnappers unto the compartment sets the tone of this really stylish comedy. Contrary to what I had heard of Rohit Shetty’s films requiring you to leave your brain at home, the comedy in the film was very well though-out and elegantly executed. I have been always an admirer of physical comedy as well as ‘objects’ comedy – comedy that makes inventive use of objects around characters – the kind that you see in films like ‘ Kiungfu Hustle’ or in the films of Jackie Chan. Not many Indian directors try it or are any good in it. The genres require adroit choreography of sorts and Shetty is rather good at it. From simple gags like Shahrukh’s rucksack hitting the faces of the goons repeatedly tothway the different weapons of the four encircle Shahrukh’s neck in a single coordinated swipe are examples of this within the first few minutes itself. The encryption of message through a feigned antakshari is a lark. And use of words like ‘ shauchalay’ within it and the goons prodding Meena to sing when they assumed was her turn makes you chuckle out loud.

    The gags flow smooth and easy right until the interval. I had to admire Shetty’s artistic integrity while noting that there was only one song, the vey tastefully staged One Two Three Four, Get On the Dance Floor to interrupt the proceedings. The gag with double-date arising out of mistaken missive, or the Srilankan smugglers on high seas , or the episode with appa’s favourite car meeting its watery end are all inventive and funny, not to count the many verbal gags involving mix up between Tamil and Hindi.
    Though I wish the second half had stayed in the same spoofy territory, what we get is not too bad. There is something really quaint about the romance blossoming in this fairy tale village with such droll and sweet uncles and aunties. There is no gainsaying No one does romance as well as Shahrukh. And I like it better when it is not over-sweetened like it is in films of Aditya Chopra or Karan Johar. The three hundred steps of carrying the weight of love is touching for sure , but it plays s so much better because it is prefaced by Shahrukhs, “ Where is the temple? Where is the temple?” The scene where Deepika goes back from the escape car only to return with the urn containing the ashes givea lie to the canard that Shetty’s films are brainless.
    I would have admired Shetty a lot more if he could come out with something more inventive than the climax fight. But given the way the film had been set up with a don and his four henchmen and a giant ofa rival in love, I could not complain too much about the turn of events. At least it was staged well – like the stove being flung and setting something on fire and Shahrukh being left holding the handle of a bucket after smashing it over someone’s head. And Shahrukh;’s speech here about father’s being heartlessly blind to what their daughters want is so much better than his “ Jis jagaah se mein dekh raha hooon..’ speech to Amitabh in Mohabbatein, both in substance and style. The Tamil bits and lines like ‘ Mein ek Halwa-wala hoon lekin ek kdwa bbat kahunga’ help in cutting the mawkishness and the ‘ gyan’ element.

    More than anything else I like the structure and the tone of the film. It plays out like a marvelous fairy-tale adventure set in an enchanted place. The picturesque South India, populated by droll South Indian characters who look not the least bit fake help in creating this flavour. The Kathakali and Theyaam dancers add the extra tang. At times it feels like an Indian Jones adventure at others like a Jackie Chan caper. AS I have said earlier, There is a lot of thought that has gone into the writing. Take the nodding of the head ( mundi hilana) sequence in Kamban and its counterpoint of shaking of the head in the other village, with its clever explanation by Deepika. I also like the use of incomprensiblr Tamil lines..it helps some gas to be structured like in a silent film, where the sequence works regardless of the verbal content.

    Must mention the songs in the film which deserve special praise. I have expressed my low opinion of seasoned directors like Mani Ratnam when they reveal total disregard for Bollywood grammar in using songs and treat them like showy MTV music videos without any soul or any attempt at dovetailing the lyrics to the intent of the scene. When I saw the name of Amitabh Bhattacharya as lyricist in the opening credits, my expectation rose, and he did not disappoint me. Even in the so called item song like One-Two-Three-Four every line is meaningfully constructed. (Ho aankh bhi, jaane kaahe /Phadke meri phadke meri baayi/Kundali me ho jaise ulti dasha ulti dasha aayi). I am exasperated at crtics who cannot recognize and applaud Shetty for showing how an item song can be clean and fun without sexual innuendos and double-meaning lyrics. Then take the song ‘ Mein Kashmir Tu Kanyakumari’ , visually it is so uplifting with all those colorful characters lined up on the hill road, and the lungi movements are so much fun. But what got to me is the celebration of the ‘ unity in diversity’ of India in such an offhand manner. ( ‘Tel bechne jaye toh phir yeh duniya saari’ indeed !) (‘Uttar ne dakshin ko aflatoon aankh maari’ is very clever in pointing to the wink-wink-nudge-nudge relationship going between the North and the South at te moment, especially in films). If there are three songs in 25 minutes, so what, they are not inserted without context. I thought they are exactly where they should have been. Oh yers, I must not forget the exquisite romantic song sung by Mohit Chuhan: Meherbaani nahi tumhara pyar maanga hai / Tumhe manzoor hai tabhi to yaar manga hai / Ghairon ke dar se, tere sheher se / Hai kasam rishta todoon na. Wah!
    The characters have been etched with much more clarity and consistency than you see in Bollywood masala capers. Both Rahul and Meenamma have been written lovingly. Nowhere has their characters been compromised in terms of dress or behaviour to make them more heroic or glamorous. No DKNY Tees for Sharukh, no designer outfits for Deepika even in fantasy song sequences. Thank god Shetty knows that White and Gold Kerala sarees can take your breath away too.

    Well I have been saving my last for the two performers who breathe life into the film and their characters and make you buy their story wholesale without a murmur. There is not a single note that these two play wrong. I had stopped falling in love with Bollywood actresses on screen until I saw Deepika in Cocktail. Fell in love with her again in Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani. And now I am reay to love her for seven more films if not seven lives. Her Hindi with mixed up genders is as funny accent as you would have ever seen in a Hindi film, and no one was needed to carry it through a whole film. And whenshe says’ Kahan se kharidi aisi bakwas dictionary’ to Sharukhs’s ‘ Mere dictionary mein impossible jaise shabd nahin hai’ she makes it sound as sharp as any of Gladstone’s riposte to Disraeli. And when she does her chudail act before delivering that solid kick to Shahrukh she is a treat to watch. And what about Sharukh? Well I think the King has got his crown back. For someone who had no patience with his romantic Rahul act in Chopra and Johar films, I say, Welcome home. Good to see you in roles like Don 2 and this. I mean we all know he was great in Swades and Chak De. But what the heck, he could be extremely funny and entertaining actor too. Good to have the Shahrukh of Yes Boss and Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa back – in a more mature and more confident avatar. Salman may have more chutzpa and Aamir better script sense, but it is Shahrukh who has the innate intelligence as an actor that only a few like Dilip Kumar or Amitabh Bachchan possess. Here he is in perfect control and lets himself go in equal measure. Can’t remember when I saw a male and female lead in a Hindi film complementing each other so well in a comedy caper.

    To sum up, if I must have masala I don’t mind it served as this kind of a concoction, with largely this kind of a flavour.

    Like

  8. Sir I haven’t seen the movie yet but hats off for your guts to ignore Thalaivaa song. In each & every review I saw, something or the other was mentioned about Thalaivaa song but you didn’t. This proves why you are regarded as a tough critic. Kudos :-)

    Like

  9. sam: Actually the DDLJ scene, when it happened, I groaned. But they cleverly gave it a twist by having more people hop on the train and him giving a helping hand :-)

    Vasisht Das: Substituted your cut-paste with a link.

    Harish S Ram: I’d say I enjoyed parts of the experience, liked some other parts, and tolerated the rest :-)

    chhotesaab: Back home. Watched it here.

    Vivek Gupta: Well, like him or not, there’s no denying that SRK is one of the most “significant” superstars of Hindi cinema. Aamir will leave behind a more lasting legacy in terms of quality of work, but as a cultural force, as someone whose hits shaped Bollywood for a significant period, especially at a time Bollywood went global, SRK is definitely not a “fake superstar.”

    sachita: About the mention of SRK’s performance, I think it’s because he’s such an “obvious” actor. When he gets all hammy, you notice it because it’s so in-your-face and it annoys you. And when he gets all subdued, you notice his acting again, because it’s *not* in-your-face and that becomes something to talk about.

    I am not philosophically disinclined to talking about an actor’s performance. Just that if there’s nothing that catches the eye, then I don’t find much point in saying “he is adequate” etc.

    BTW, quite a bit of the dialogue is in un-subtitled Tamil. I was quite surprised. And dhavani is Tamil costume, no? The Kerala-style happens when they cross the border — i.e. if that kind of accuracy is what you’re looking for :-)

    Rishi J: Actually “Lungi Dance” didn’t work for me at all. The song is horrible. (I am not a fan of rap or hip-hop or whatever you call it. Even with Rahman, every time I hear of a Blaaze collaboration, I break out in hives.) Plus, terrible choreography. And the whole “Rajini tribute” angle is so contrived, given that this film (along with the spate of “South masala”-flavoured films) has little to do with Rajini’s brand of masala.

    Utkal: No DKNY Tees for Sharukh…

    Er, the shirt he wears in the climax is a Dolce & Gabbana :-) But yes, point taken.

    Amar: I am a tough critic? That’s news :-)

    Like

  10. I feel you want to justify your previous article on stereotypes. You’ve said that as long it’s a stereotype in a comedy, then it should be fine. This movie wasn’t good!

    Like

  11. Hehe…it happens..all of look things in a positive way and r happy when we just return from a holiday and this review proves it again! :)

    Like

  12. Brangan I did not like this review. It somehow appeared to me subconsciously that you were ‘playing safe’ something i did not feel in any of your other reviews. I cant explain why particularly but this is the honest feeling once i was done reading.

    Like

  13. I went into the movie with the lowest of expectations, and found myself pleasantly surprised to be quite entertained , especially in the first half.

    What somewhat spoilt the movie for me, however, was Rahul’s pre-interval acts of letchiness. Surely somebody of SRK’s stature doesn’t really *need* to do that shit, so why was it there?

    Also, I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes at the single ‘feminist’ dialogue in the movie, especially when the climax (and other smaller mini-climaxes) involve the woman’s father overseeing her two suitors fight to win her.

    I get that we are supposed to leave our brains at home, but considering that Rahul is the ‘nice guy’ and Meena is spirited enough to run away multiple times, the ending scene seemed not only inconsistent but SO tiredly cliched.

    Like

  14. BR, have you made a promise to yourself that every article (or at least every article that is a review) will have a headline that includes a pun? This one was really stretching it, don’t you think? :-)

    And, *switches pedant mode on*, ‘Vindhya’ would only be the mountain range itself – and does not indicate either the north or south geographical areas of India, surely?

    Like

  15. It is such a pleasure to read this review, not because it almost completely matches my impressions, but for the sole reason of reading something so unbiased. Even if I don’t always agree with you, I find your approach to movies remarkably fair as you review them for what they are and not for what you would like them to be. This is pretty much opposite of the usual “I-wish-I-would-live-in-Manhattan” brigade of English speaking snobs who trash everything desi (except wasseypuresque model) while looking up to the West from the bottom of their Starbucks mugs :-)

    Like

  16. BR, Instead of Tough Critic, I would rather say, you are a Courageous Critic. Your name tag could be – BR, CC :-)

    Yes, The Script Writer Rohit is better than Director Shetty if you go through the Nunaces of CE. SRK sometimes thinks way ahead apart from his Contemporaries & New Gen like in Phir Bhi, Yeh Hai Hindustani & I am the Best Beat; Paheli; Chak De Etc but Box Office figures make him to think again normal like a Bollywood Hero.

    Commercially, feel like Both Producers and Director & SRK tried to get a minimum guarantee by not corrupting the South Indian ethos & pathos by Stereotyping. But yes, again the courage of not Subtitling & then SRK’s gig of calling Deepika, Ms. Subtitle all shows the relative brain-ness of the script and again boldness of asking people to leave brains at home to watch the action/fight/race/car blow up and frying stove scenes.

    Though the movie might not be memmorable for a typical SRK wonder, the commercial success might tend to bring in more honest movies unlike Pseudo High Level Aamir Movies and Mass Pure Action Salman Movies.

    Like

  17. @Baradwaj: Hmm. Someone posed a question on twitter saying that perhaps CE was SRK’s way of making up for the stereo-typing in Ra-one and I said that I actually thought the exact opposite, in that the last 20 minutes actually makes it seem as if South Indians are worse (blood thirsty, regressive etc) and thought that an ending which was devoid of blood and perhaps had a more humorous touch would’ve worked better.(I do get that it’s only a certain set of people, namely Deepika’s father and Thangabali, who come across as regressive but still…)

    Like

  18. Of course sir you are! I’m a die hard of Thalaivar. When the whole world was going gaga over Sivaji, I saw your review where you thrashed a Rajinikanth film (not Shankar film though!)from Chennai itself which showed how much daring & bold you are :)

    Like

  19. Dr.Rangan,

    While I agree with some of your rather generous opinions about it, I was wondering if you noticed that Chennai Express is virtually an Ekalavya-like tribute by Rohit Shetty to the gag-filled, fairytale narratives of the current masala wunder-kinder S.S.Rajamouli. How did you not see several aspects directly inspired from Maryada Ramanna (remade very shoddily as ‘Son of Sardar’) which was a very smartly updated adaptation of Buster Keaton’s silent classic ‘Our Hospitality’ (1923) ?

    IMO, Rajamouli’s clever fantasy ‘Eega’ is perhaps the one Indian movie that Hollywood ought to remake.

    SRK’s clowning works inconsistently (blame it also on the inconsistencies in writing and direction) while Deepika is surprisingly uninhibited in the ‘possesed’ scene – most of our heroines are paranoid about looking weird or un-pretty even for a scene (one exception that comes to mind is Juhi Chawla). Yes, it is a pity that ‘CE’ under-milks a lot of it’s own potentially juicy setups and misses out on ever delivering a truly mad payoff.

    The kind of inspired madness that Rajamouli often pulls off; for instance, the interval-point scene in ‘Eega’ where the fly scribbles “I WILL KILL YOU” on the windscreen triumphantly!

    But for all the ‘hardwork’ in the above-average detailing in ‘CE’, the laziness/arrogance about Tamizh pronounciation/accent is predictable and disappointing (considering that Shetty has chosen to retain more Tamizh lines in ‘CE’ than any HIndi movie ever?) Couldn’t he bother to get a Tamizh dialogue coach during the dubbing for the Hindi actors? Even a Bangalore girl like Deepika speaks Tamizh with such a ridiculous accent. Wouldn’t it have been worth SRK’s time & effort to pronounce the crucial Tamizh line that he repeats emotionally near the climax (considering a large percentage of his loyal audience in the four southern states actually understand the language)?

    (“But Saar, why you are taking anything about this movie so seriously when it’s makers themselves don’t ? “)

    P.S.: Apparently most of the movie was shot on sets built in Hindi cinema’s favourite double-for-north-India location at Wai Maharashtra and not Tamil Nadu !
    Don’t mind it.

    Like

  20. Nikhil R: Yeah, but since the mountain range signifies the division between north and south, a division that’s the root of the fish-out-of-water comedy here… :-D

    Lena: Please… Do not call me (or anyone, for that matter) “unbiased.” We all have our biases, some of which we may not even know about until someone points it out :-)

    Bala: But the last 20 mins were seen in DDLJ too, no? That’s the model here, and those were all Punjabi characters.

    Vasisht Das: Of Rajamouli’s films, I’ve only seen “Naan Ee,” which I raved about here. So I’m not qualified to comment on that aspect of this film, but this seemed more like an SRK tribute-showreel spiced up with the “south” masala trend.

    But yes, I agree with you about the “Tamizh pronounciation/accent” — which I found only with two characters, Meenamma and Thangabali. Why they couldn’t cast a Tamil-speaking actor as the latter is beyond me. Surely there are Hulks here.

    I agree with your point that they should have had a dialogue coach for Deepika, but SRK needed to sound “wrong”. Because he’s not from here and needed to sound as if he’s from the “North.” That he made us giggle is a different thing altogether :-)

    Oh, it was obvious that it was a set. The temple, for instance, looked so fake and freshly painted. That’s one way you can always tell apart a masala movie from a “real” movie — in the latter, the sets look lived in.

    Like

  21. DDLJ part 2……Karwa chowt replaced with rasam…….usual histrionics of Crap Khan…..Athudu….Muthu…Alex pandiyan……..and ton’s crap on top as train comedy ……

    not worth even downloaded version watch…BTW many HQ downloads with great audio already available online……don’t waste money on this crap…..the nerve of the so called superstardom by this overhyped , yet talented actor….to take it for granted with one after the other mediocre movies….with highly planned and organized marketing and release kosurukku…south soristar rajini butt licking with the horrendous songi dance….God save Indian cinema

    Like

  22. “The concept of little person…… is fantastic”.. How so? I found that dehumanizing and in a poor taste.

    Like

  23. Awesome!! Shahrukh rocks again!! Something about the man that he can surprise you every now & then!! In the last Chopra flick too, we saw a very subdued Shahrukh as the Army man! He was just perfect in that role! How cool did he look! :) Yummmm!! :)

    In Chennai express, he shows another side of his which we haven’t seen before.

    I agree with BRangan that Shahrukh is one of our true Superstars, up there with Dilip Kumar, Rajesh Khanna, & Amitabh Bachchan! With the kind of business Chennai express has gone on to do, he may redefine even superstardom soon!! Hats off!!

    How did i like the flick? :) Well, i liked it. There were moments where i felt Shetty had gone off track but somehow the leads were in such control that the movie didn’t derail. Shahrukh in top form complimented well by Deepika! Overall, a good watch. Had the comedy got more screen that the action in the second half, i’d have loved it even more.

    Like

  24. I always read BR’s review after i watch a movie and have so far always found myself in violent agreement (sometimes marveling at your observations that i might have missed). This review was a complete downer….i absolutely hated the movie…it was a pain to sit through. The episode with the dwarf in the forest…wtf was that about…what relevance/value did it add to the movie…it was THE WTF moment of the movie and i am surprised that you find anything good to say about the episode. Reading through your review here, i echo the thoughts of someone else above….it didnt feel like an honest review. In my opinion there are two reasons why:

    1 You saw the movie much after it was declared a ‘super duper hit’ and felt pressured to give it a half decent review rather than calling it out for what it was….a piece of shit movie that made money only because of fantastic timing (the long eid weekend).

    2. You were too goose-bumped with the fact that South Indians (specifically Madrasis) were treated like the winners in a north indian movie…i lol’ed at your ecstatic observation about them even being portrayed as more physically stronger/bigger than the punjabi (haha, what!). I dont blame you for feeling all pumped up at the positive characterization…S Indians have always gotten the rough end of the stick in Bollywood…most of the South Indians sitting in the theatre were literally chortling and close to clapping in some scenes.

    I feel the above simply because it boakwas movie and Shahrukh made the movie even more painful to watch. deepika was the savng grace.

    Like

  25. I watched the movie with college friends and I asked some of my friends who speak Hindi to explain dialogues in case there were no subtitles. But as the movie progressed, we were all laughing at how we needed subtitles not for the Hindi portions but for the Tamil dialogues! If it had been Asin now in Deepika’s place she would have done a far better job. No story, no depth to the characters. We found the movie tolerably funny. Oh, and the possessed scene? It made us all feel vaguely embarrassed; we didn’t even understand what she was saying! We were actually expecting her to snore; I’m sure that would have been a lot funnier! Anyway, I know nobody cares what I feel or don’t feel about the movie; it has made a lot more money than I will ever make in 9 lives! But it’s the feeling that after all the hype, you are served such disappointing fare and the fact that it is making so much money in-spite of being only a mildly funny movie that is so hard to digest! They think people will watch anything if there is enough hype; and this is applicable for Kollywood as well. And the lungi dance! I can imagine Rajinikanth reacting to it :”Vidugadhayaaaa…en vaazhkai….”

    Like

  26. This is a kind of movie that Ajay Devgn might be proud to be a part of..But SRK??..really??Never imagined he would stoop to such levels of buffoonery to stamp his mark in 100 crore club,,,wat a waste….And Lungi Dance..WTF??How is it a tribute to superstar when you dance like primates on a high in front of his stunning stills???…only saving grace for me were those mild red tinged eyes that Deepika sports in emotional scenes (been a fan of it from OSO days)…One positive thing though is now I get your point to not to take stereotyping in these pigeon-brained efforts seriously..thank u..

    Like

  27. I read your review and went with a friend. I have to say it was quite entertaining. It was comparable I thought, to watching a humongous budgeted Sam Anderson/Vijaykanth movie. For the most part, we were just laughing at the things that were happening, and not because of them.

    We found two things really hilarious ( and no other reviewer found them funny enough to mention it) — The SriLankan boat scene — We couldn’t stop laughing at the thug on the boat talking in Hindi/English/and-what-not. And also the Utopian village — I mean, where else can you find a village that doesn’t seem to do anything much other than arranging/picking flowers, providing jeeps and houses to strangers!

    But, I had a good time laughing at the movie and at the other people (almost all of them not South-Indian) in the theater laughing and admiring SRK’s contrived acting.

    Like

  28. SRK’s antics brings to mind the image of a monkey on a sugar rush, ODd on caffeine, dancing on burning coal

    Like

  29. I found myself smiling a lot , but I wasn’t as tickled as I would’ve liked . And yes , the fight scene at the end just didn’t gel with the overall tone of the film .

    P.S : Looking forward to reading your thoughts on Thalaivaa :)

    Like

  30. Reluctant Passenger – Chennai Express
    —————————————————

    Chennai Express is not about people. It’s not about North Indians meeting South Indians. Far from it. It is not even about the insurmountable chasm that divides the North of Vindhyas from the South. Simply put:

    It is about the incestuous coupling of Bollywood with it’s sambar counterpart – Kollywood.

    I actually wanted to get off at Kalyan station, along with the protagonist and do something worthwhile with my time, like have a pani-puri. No easy exits here and no pulling of the emergency stop chain at my disposal, so I went along for the ride, as though kidnapped by Rohit Shetty all the way to Komban and beyond.

    In the end, I came out of the theater after immersing the ashes of my boredom in the dark rameshwaram of Rohit’s insipid imaginations.

    Rohit culls then weaves southy snippets from assorted Kollywood movies, and tucks us under an unwashed threadbare railway blanket. Many embarrassing cliches later, the expression of love is purely through administration of blunt force and it’s bloody acceptance for the sake of lady love.

    DPadukone was a beautiful dud, SRK a fast talking dud. Priya Mani’s fabulous 1234 item number must not be missed. Only because item numbers are an art-form that are disjointed from a main yarn devoid of imagination, and a dead script.

    A failed script slaughters everybody.

    One has two choices: Keep your brains at home to watch this movie or keep your entire body there. I strongly recommend the later.

    Like

  31. Shetty has become known as a director of blockbuster comedies, but he seems incapable of shaping anything but the most basic kind of humor.

    Well Woody Allen he is not. But what I like about him is he’s gotten better (haven’t watched this one, didn’t think I would be remotely interested in watching an SRK flick!). Despite some real over the top stuff, there were moments of comedic genius in Bol Bachchan. He can work on his obsession with needless action sequences with Tata Sumos flying around though. Someone needs to take the Michael Bay out of him.

    Like

  32. Ha..Ha…common guys…how many centuries…in the name of blogging and posting comments for pathetic reviews…people ( all those Einsteins who in the above comments mentioned so) will keep saying ” keep your brains at home and enjoy the movie”..my A$$……..how many of you can comment for every senseless movies made in Bollywood/Kollywood the same way and recommend to watch with keeping one’s brain at home…why not you guys tell the same for another crap movie made by an ordinary director or actor…just because these Crap Kahn and Crap Shetties…and because these brain less actors/Directors have grown so big by hype and marketing…does it entitle them to have positive review by the so called elite pseudo reviewers and alike ghosti…give a break to a good cinema lover…recommend and encourage good cinema made with good script ( whether a RomCom, Crimecom,a Road movie, a masala flick, or any genre)…believe me masala movies are made with good scripts too and live in one’s memory for long…not like the movies in “me too” category that too with relentless mix from umpteen Kollywood masala in this Crap express…feel ashamed to pseudo hype this movie…do proper justice to what a movie deserves ..not based on who made it and who acted in it… yappa…thangalada saami.. can we say every darn “Vijay” movie as ” yes…we can watch with keeping our brains at home….can any one justify the rationale…of even saying or recommending any movie with that choice. How many hollywood movies are reviewed like that….it’s either good or great or horrible….there is nothing like yes you can watch this movie with your A$$ and this other movie with your brain on your body…and this third movie with your brain at home or in A$$ etc. There are umpteen number of Hollywood movies made in Fiction category…total senseless…they either click with a nice narration or great special effects etc…etc..not because a train is stopped by pulling chain….and the hero does the usual histrionic act..or the beautiful looking heroine…massacres the language so horrendously or script is completely for those with brain left at home.

    Disgusting…do some soul search before you recommend Craps like CE..

    Sharukh has done masalas…before and probably reasonably OK…yet to make one sensible mass entertainer…but continues with the hype created and the people joining the band wagon.and he continues to garner undeserved success….like how it happened to many Crap Rajini movies..and the outcome….they continue to make these kind of nonsense..one after the other

    Like

  33. To all those who can’t even create a decent alias for themselves… leave your anger at the door… it’s highly arrogant to think others can’t distinguish between good and bad cinema. This is an SRK film directed by Rohit Shetty. What do you expect? Yes, this is an industry that survives on hype, if you didn’t realize that, choke on a pretzel… or a vada.

    As for Hollywood, yes, the assortment is better and varied, but look through the list of big studio blockbusters and what do you find? Mindless superhero stuff. Check reviews for Iron Man 3 please – what do you see? A mixed bag… not everyone has trashed it, because they knew what the movie was going to be all about, and were not expecting an Aronofsky masterpiece. Not even a “sensible” entertainer.

    Like

  34. nanda kishora navaneeta chora…..Okey….wow now you know decent alias….and now u want the anger to be left at the door in addition to brain also…anger um ille oru mannagattiyum ille….people have a face value of reading reviews from award winning critics like BR and believe it or not many decide to watch movie based on credible reviewers like him…not based on vethu comments by the ones asking to leave the brain / anger/ etc…etc…at door or bath room or whatever….i don’t know who is arrogant in thinking good vs bad…chumma ezhudanume inne comment pannama.. tell me how many ordinary actors/directors movies you guys have watched or recommended others to watch with home sheltered brain. I know many of my friends drove from CT to NJ to watch Soodhukavvum after BR’s reviews…and can gie examples of many such balanced and fantastic reviews….”what do u expect of SRK/RS….”……is this what did u expect of his other recent flicks…..does that mean people expect crap…before they watch the crap……don’t worry no body is choking because they left their brains some where else…ya….right .they knew what they were expecting…a crap worth 200 crores in two weeks…not bad ….

    thanks for your great finding”Yes, this is an industry that survives on hype,”….because no one knew about this till they accidentally found out in your comment…..adhu ulagamarinja unmai…adhukkaga sothai padathai hit aakka vekkanum innu avasiyam illeyae.. evvalo hype pannalum…

    there is no harm in calling a spade a spade whether it’s a film by SRK va irukkattum..or by RK ille KH ille Salman K ille innoru ordinary K vaa vadhu irukkattum…
    take it easy pa..BR review vu kku weight irukku…adanale than..inda comments ku avvalo weight ille…reviewers like BR have professional responsibility of creating a good cinema lover too ..not by commenters like us….

    now eat your pretzel…vennumna vada kooda saapidalum…I assure you will not choke.

    Like

  35. Well RS seems to have become a prisoner of his own image, that is the image of flying cars . The trailers itself proudly proclaims the ROHIT SHETTY ISHTYYLE, when SRK sends one flying with an arival. RS was not the first director who set the cars flying,he actually picked it up from south cinema.Arguably the director who started sending them flying really high is shankar with Gentleman and Kaadalan. He send a motorbike flying over a train in gentleman.A poster of kadalan had the image of an army of flying police jeeps.I do believe that there is a good comic director in him struggling to get out of all these over the top images.As for SRK the movies i like him best are swades,Asoka,Dil se all of them flops, but containing his best performances under great directors.May be the failure of these movies has forced him to pursue his over the top hammy acting to its limit. I read that the investment in CE is closed to 100 crs, which means that the movie has to gross at least 200 crs to beak even.When that much money is at stake i guess there is very little experimenting one can do either as an actor or as a director. So it is really up to the paying public to decide whether or not to encourage these endeavors or not. But going by the collections (200 crs in 2 weeks ), it seems that RS will continue to fly more cars and SRK is going to ham it up till Qayamat comes

    Like

  36. Chandra Prakash dont get your panties in a twist…were you doing a CE here by not providing subtitles? Just reading the tamil aloud made me feel gangsta though…the sheer venom dripping off your every word! To all the directors or actors who say one should leave their brains at home to watch their movie, i say leave your wallets behind at home too.

    Like

  37. Hi Porto…ye kya bolra thum….I am basically a decent fellow from decent family u know ( Like RJ balaji)…why thum panty twist oh twist bolre…asingama…(lelo aapka subtitles….anger um ille oru mannagattiyum ille = no freakin anger…or freakin mud bar..

    chumma ezhudanume inne comment pannama = just don’t write anything in the name of commenting.

    adhu ulagamarinja unmai…adhukkaga sothai padathai hit aakka vekkanum innu avasiyam illeyae.. evvalo hype pannalum ( i think this one gave you a feel of gangsta….don’t worry Gangsta feel has to happen it doesn’t come by reading something or pretending) = This is truth known to world…because of that there is no need to make every hopeless movie a hit movie despite whatever hype they create”…now idhar kidhar venom/payasam/…i mean poison drip wohra hai bhai…
    lastly..vennumna vada kooda saapidalum = if needed you can eat vadaa too…

    any way Porto …atleast the last sentence ek tho aap teek bhola…

    Like

  38. Watched the movie yesterday. I had gone in for Deepika. Got out no more wiser. She was great. Other than that the movie is run of the mill.

    Its making money, I think, because its a comedy ( like you have said, the basic kind which gets the entire family; my back row hosted a 7 to 8 member family ) (and the guy next to me was laughing at literally every scene, while you are left wondering) with some action and Shah Rukh Khan.

    About Rohit Shetty being better at romantic movies, I would read it as : he is less bad here as compared to his earlier ventures. I like the guy himself, but cant confuse that with what movies he makes.

    And I enjoy Shah Rukh’s interviews, I think that’s about the only reason I find myself watching his drama-romance movies (I mean out of curiosity). He should do something else now.

    Ah ok, I forget to mention, the music was good ! The titli song is quite original.

    You seem to be kinder to these masala movies. Perhaps no point in actually criticising them huh ? Or like someone mentioned, its the south indian thing that got you ? :-)

    Like

  39. Hi Brangan, There are a lot of views as expected on the stereotyping bit in CE which is becoming a kind of pattern in films, serials,ads,.. On that pls read my post “Firrr wahi Bokwas Stereotyping???” http://wp.me/p1dZc2-gW
    Pls read and give your views. Thanks !

    Like

  40. Chandra Prakash…are you saying that folks from decent families dont wear panties (or undies)?? Good lord. I read all the Hindi in your reply in Deepika’s accent…actually felt very seductive :)

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s