One never expects logic and brains when it comes to a Rohit Shetty film. His films are unapologetically inane and loud, orchestrated with loads of noise, flying cars and people, and a plot which is negligible to write about. But its a fact also that he is one of the most commercially successful Bollywood directors. So the huge hype and hoopla around Chennai Express was expected, with the director teaming up with SRK for the first time ( minus his regular faourite Ajay Degn) . But the lavishly mounted Chennai Express turns out to be dissapointing journey, with neither the director nor the Actor delivering what it promises to be– an Entertainer. What it turns out be is a smorgasbord of nonsensical humour, hackneyed storyline and a modern yet puerile rehash of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge (SRKs most memorable film).
The thin storyline of this big budget movie revolves around a 40 yr old Rahul ( SRK), who boards the Chennai express train, hoodwinking his granny that he is going to Rameshwaram to immerse the ashes of his late grandpa. But in reality, he is all set to meet his friends midway for a trip to Goa. He encounters Meena( Deepika Padukone) in the train, who is on her toes to escape from his goon father ( Sathyaraj), the local Don of his village in Komban ( Tamil Nadu). Rahul is tricked by Meena to accompany her to the village, pretending to be her fiance. What follows is mad cap turn of events, with the lead pair running helter skelter to escape his fathers goons and the bulky menace Thamballi ( Niketan Dheer), with whom Meena is being forced to marry.
Chennai express gets derailed right from the beginning, with a sloppily paced story and a trying too hard to be funny demeanour, which absolutely doesnt work because the jokes and gags are downright flat and boring. But the biggest drawback of the film is that most of the scenes have been shot in Tamil Language, which would be incomprehensible to the audience who are not even a bit aware of it. As Rahul calls Meena Ms. Subtitle throughout the film, the film indeed needs subtitles to understand the blabber of the Tamil goons . The film unabashedly pays tribute to SRKs own previous films, with references to DDLJ, My Name is Khan, Dil Se, Baazigar in sporadic dozes. But it simply fails to rise above the mediocrity, mainly because of a waferthin plot and the usual Rohit Shetty tricks of action comedy- big bang stunts and loud noise.
Amidst all this madness, the lead pair gets feeble scope in displaying their histrionics or romantic chemistry. An ageing SRK is consistently inconsistent throughout the film, with doing the usual over the top act with elan in the first half, mellowing down a bit during the post interval portions, and repeating the hamming jazz again towards the finale. He is pleasant in some of the scenes, but gets completely off track for the majority of the film. Ironically, Chennai express will go down as one his worstly acted films , as he tries too hard too compensate for this elaborately riddled mess, and he gets intolerable for most of it. A die hard fan might take up his indulgence, but for the normal audience, his performance is a gigantic dissapointment.
Deepika Padukone gets it right, (thankfully), and is a complete delight to watch. Her Tamil accent coupled with her coherent and centered performance proves she has sharpened her craft considerably, almost 6 years after her iconic debut alongside the same SRK in Om Shanti Om. In fact, she is much better than Khan, and might be the only reason why Chennai Express deserves a review , actually.
The rest of the star cast are completely negligible, but the music of the film is hummable. The DOP does a decent job in giving the film an opulent look.
Honestly, I went to see this film with absolutely no expectations, but Chennai Express is a lavishly boring film. Come on SRK, you have done this umpteen number of times. You are capable of so much more !