Bollywood Movie Review: Chennai Express (5 Reasons You Shouldn't Board This Train)

Rashmi Daryanani , 09 Aug 2013
Chennai Express
Chennai Express

When Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) boards Chennai Express, he has a clear purpose in mind: give his grandmother the slip and head off to Goa, instead of the intended Rameshwaram. But in a twist of fate, he ends up being held hostage with South Indian beauty, Meena (Deepika Padukone) and taken off to her village.

Is Chennai Express worth boarding this weekend? Unfortunately, we think you should get off the train, baby. Here are 5 things that had us scratching our heads during the film.

1. The Nokia product placement. We know product placements are a given in a SRK film, but I think this may be his most overt one yet. As in, he rattles off everything from the phone’s model number, to its tech specs, to its (very specific) price. Multiple times.

2. Meena got on the wrong train. I spent pretty much the whole movie trying to figure out the answer to this question: if Deepika’s character was running away from her family and was trying desperately to avoid returning to her hometown – where she would be forced to marry against her will – then why on earth did she hop onto the train that takes her to her town?

Chennai Express
Chennai Express

3. The jokes. The film has its funny moments – I laughed out loud over “Life of Pi” (crazy though it was) and Deepika’s chudail scene for sure. For the most part, though, there aren’t enough gags, or they come off forced. Sometimes, they’re overdone (the DDLJ references start off as funny, but end up being overused). Sometimes, they’re ridiculously silly and fall flat (the dwarf scene in the woods). And sometimes, they just make you want to groan (Angelina Jolie reference).

4. It chugs along. This is one train that goes in circles – Rahul repeatedly leaves Meena (every time thinking it’s the last time he’ll see her), only to meet her again shortly thereafter. They keep ending up in Meena’s hometown, despite the fact that they should be avoiding it like the plague. There are too many absolutely unnecessary scenes in the film, such as a tangent involving smugglers on their way to Sri Lanka, which ended with SRK being right back where he started. A lot of it just doesn’t make sense… and yes, I’m aware that this is a Rohit Shetty film, but still.

Chennai Express
Chennai Express

5. The lack of subtitles. A big portion of this film involves dialogue delivery in Tamil, and while you’re never completely confused because Meena (“Miss Subtitle” according to Rahul) translates the important bits, it’s obvious there are some things that are lost. Plus, it becomes wearisome to try and keep up, and you can’t help but feel it would’ve been a lot simpler if subtitles were included. After all, it is the kind of film that requires you to disengage, and you can’t exactly do that if it’s not easy to understand what’s being said.

That said, I do have to highlight some of the things I liked about the movie, because there are a few: like I mentioned previously, there are funny moments, and even though SRK hams it up – it is required for the role, though – he does pull off some gags well. Deepika does well in this film, and while her accent slips on occasion, she outshines SRK at parts. Nikitin Dheer is menacing without even having to utter a world. Also, I’m a complete sucker maybe, but I couldn’t help smiling at some of the profound bits in the movie, like “it’s good to be important, but it’s more important to be good.” Yes, it’s cheesy, but ah well.

Chennai Express
Chennai Express

Verdict:

It has its moments, but for the most part, Chennai Express can be a bit of a bore. I wouldn’t have even minded if Rohit Shetty went all out and made it absolutely, incredibly ludicrous, but he somehow manages to fall somewhere in between – typical “masala” at parts, but rather drab at others.

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