Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Chennai Express has reportedly taken the box office by storm, crossing the Rs 100-crore (£105 million) mark and setting other records.
Box office collections and record apart, Chennai Express is one-time watchable film that includes comic action and lots of it, packed with director Rohit Shetty's trademark banging car-chase sequences, head-on fight scenes and no hardcore violence or killing.
The story line revolves around Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan), a 40-year-old man from Mumbai, who while on his way to Rameshwaram aboard Chennai Express train meets a South Indian girl Meena (Deepika Padukone). Meena has run away from her village where her father, a don, wants to marry her off to the son of another don in a neighbouring village. Rahul eventually feels trapped protecting Meena but as the plot unfolds, he realizes her worth in his life.
Chennai Express is the latest flick to join this new genre of Bollywood films that attempt to dissolve the cultural divide of North and South India through south-inspired song and dance sequences, shooting places and portrayal of characters who hail from both the parts of India. Chennai Express too brings the colourful culture of South India to the fore but only in two song sequences. Except a soft love melody, the songs in the film are just passable. However, the background score (that says Chennai Express) don't let the viewer get bored.
Shah Rukh Khan has acted for the first time in a film of such genre and it's the actor's undying charm that makes the viewer sit through the end. His wittiness, situational comedy and one-liners (such as "Don't underestimate the power of a common man") will make his fans fall for him once again.
Actress Deepika Padukone seems to be excelling in every new film. In Chennai Express, she gets into the skin of the character Meena naturally that no one would ever give it a second thought.
Loud is the word if one has to describe the comedy in the film with the exception of some unique aspects especially the scenes in which Rahul and Meena communicate in Hindi (in front of the goons who do not know the language) by singing on the tunes of Hindi songs. The sequences make you giggle. Deepika Padukone surely takes the credit for lifting the humour with her accented dialogues and promptness.
Being a Rohit Shetty film, Chennai Express has moved on to some extent in cinematography. The film takes you to some of the most beautiful and easy to identify locales of South India mainly Dudhsagar Falls in Karnataka, tea gardens of Munnar in Kerala and the lakeside retreat of Panchgani hill station in Maharashtra – all of them shot beautifully.
Chennai Express has perhaps only one loose end: the romantic chemistry between Meena and Rahul. This is more disheartening because romance is expected to rule when Shah Rukh Khan-starrers are released. Often dubbed as the King of Romance, Shah Rukh Khan fails to ignite a romantic spark in his character. Blame it on the 20-year age gap between the star pair (Khan at 47 and Padukone at 27) or the aging looks of Khan (he does look his age in the film), fans who are looking forward to the lover boy image of Shah Rukh Khan, may get disappointed.
Nevertheless, it's Rahul's confession about his love for Meena in the last scene that does the entire patch up. Even if Rahul knows that Meena loves him, he dutifully asks if she will marry him because he says a woman's wish and consent is above all things in the world – this one portrayal of Rahul's character brings back the essence of being the king of romance to the front, and you are left speechless.