Saturday, August 10, 2013

Chennai Express  

Laughter Challenged

Chennai Express doesn’t need a review. People who want to see it, will see it in spite of a pan; people who don’t want to, will not, in spite of a rave.  Plot synopsis in short, Rahul tries to rescue Meenamma from goons, ends up in her village,  gets into trouble with her Don Dad, and after some escapades falls in love with her. 

So now, some random stuff:

The loudest applause in the cinema comes when Rajnikant’s name or picture appears on screen. So one of Bollywood’s biggest stars has to hitch a ride on the Southern star’s fan wagon?

The prologue is too long and boring, that ends with Rahul (naam to suna hoga?) getting on a train to immerse his grand-dad’s ashes at Rameswaram. Why?  Just!  He intends to get off at Goa and pick up “NRI” girls with is buddies.  FYI, he is 40 and single. He is not pretending to be 18, which is good.

Rahul sees a girl running to catch the train and pulls her in (DDLJ moment # 1, followed by several).  He also pulls in four dark, burly goons. Why?  Just! Turns out they are kidnapping Meenamma and taking her back to her village to marry another dark, burly goon. So why was she running towards the Chennai-bound train?  Just!

They end up at her village, where her father (Satyaraj) is the Don. They are several dark, burly goons hanging around, and several sickles stuck on coconuts, but the interloper is spared. Why? Just!

After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, that involves a totally pointless scene with a mute midget, Rahul and Meenamma escape to  a pretty village that hasn’t heard of the scandal of Bombay Boy’s Escape with Don’s Daughter, but, according to a passing truck driver, the entire South has, and is looking for Bombay Boy to behead him.

In the pretty village, they pretend to be newly wed. Meenamma gets the film’s second funny scene (her nightmare sequence) and then gets all coy and wife-like. Rahul still has some scenes to go before he grows up.

DDLJ wrap up (not a spoiler for Indian moviegoer):  Rahul cannot marry Meenamma without Dad’s approval, and has to fight burly goon fiancé, because in keeping with the great Indian tradition, the father will give away his daughter to a Real Man. That is, one who can beat his rival to pulp.

The question is, why should Shah Rukh Khan, sitting right up at the Bollywood peak, want to slide down and do such an awful film.  Maybe because he needs to check on his fan following, since the stall guys love Salman, the balcony guys love Aamir and everyone else loves Ranbir Kapoor.  So instead of growing up, Rahul dumbs down.  Which is a pity, because proudly critic-proof Rohit Shetty is incapable of bringing on to the screen Shah Rukh Khan’s talent, wit, intelligence and, yes, experience. Chennai Express may make 100 crores, but it still insults the audience and tarnishes SRK’s superstardom.

Deepika Padukone understands the silliness of the film, and acts accordingly— in the end, she is the only saving grace. Somebody give her an award!


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