Saturday, August 10, 2013

Pull the chain, stop this train!

Film: Chennai Express
Director: Rohit Shetty

“Don’t underestimate the power of a common man,” says Shah Rukh on numerous occasions in the film. The statement couldn’t be truer. With the crowd flooding films like Golmaals and Singham, the cinema of Rohit Shetty’s genre (we don’t have a name for it yet) has enough encouragement to bloom, and Chennai Express is a byproduct of the same sentiment.

A film whose fate cannot be altered even by a film critic with the abilities of Professor X, critiquing Chennai Express based on standard parameters would be an exercise in futility. Having said that, this film does not even live up to the standards of previous Rohit Shetty films. The film which starts off as an unabashed, in-your-face laugh ride derails (pun intended) into a set-piece drama from the nineties.

It tells the story of a 40-year-old single man, Rahul, who is assigned the task to immerse the remains of his dead grandfather in the sea at Rameshwaram. He boards the Chennai Express with a plan to cheat and leave for Goa with his friends. However, he has no idea that the hand he extends to help Meenama board the train in DDLJ fashion, will also bring him his life’s biggest conflict.

You see the film from Rahul’s perspective and therefore most of the humour is generated from his inability to understand Tamil and his forced attempt to stereotypically mimic the sounds. With a dearth of mind-blowingly hilarious moments, you have to make do mostly with whatever little banter Deepika and SRK share.

SRK’s effortless portrayal of Rahul relies heavily on the fact that he is playing his pet character on screen. From self-deprecating humour to puppy-face romantic looks to a beaten-to-pulp lover displaying courage, he puts his entire repertoire from DDLJ on display again.

Deepika, whose name quite fittingly appears before SRK’s in the opening credits, is the real star of this film. Her timely, accented punch-lines like “Kahaan se laiye ayisi bawkwaas dictionary?” and other cute Hindi phrases are what keep you upbeat during the endless 2.45 hours. And, the way she looks throughout the film, if enough girls watch the film, Deepika may be responsible for bringing sarees and half-sarees back into mass-fashion.

Apart from that, Chennai Express is a typical medium-distance journey in a second-class bogey. Rohit Shetty’s fetishes for cars toppling like dominos and fist fights with hefty people flying in all directions are stimulating on no level. Add to that a clichéd plot where Sathyaraj, who plays Meenama’s father Durgeshwara Azhagusundaram, finally let’s go of his daughter’s hand in the Jaa Simran Jaa sentiment, absolutely kills the mood.

Watch it for Deepika Padukone and a couple of chuckles, if you must. Most importantly, be careful common man, your attendance will make or break the film.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Published in DNA (Pune) on August 10, 2013

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