2.5 Stars (out of 4)
Circumstances have conspired to keep me from writing a proper review of Chennai Express, so here are some brief thoughts on the movie:
- The film delivers on the romance, explosions, and lavish dance numbers promised in the trailer, so in that regard, Chennai Express is successful. However, the fact that so much of the film’s comedy relies on fans being well-versed in Shahrukh Khan’s previous movies limits Chennai Express‘s chances for greatness. The movie isn’t truly universal, and I don’t think it will stand the test of time.
- On the other hand, the in-jokes about SRK’s movies aren’t critical to understanding the plot, so the film on the whole is pretty accessible. The funniest scene in the film is when Rahul (SRK) and Meena (Deepika Padukone) communicate in code in front of her kidnappers by modifying the lyrics to popular film songs. One doesn’t have to know all of the songs to find the scene humorous.
- Many of the rest of the jokes are about Hindi-speaking Rahul not understanding the Tamil-speaking residents of Meena’s hometown. For the sake of audience members who don’t understand Hindi or Tamil and can’t easily tell them apart when spoken, I wish the English subtitles would’ve been presented in a way to convey which language was being spoken, perhaps by italicizing the Tamil dialogue subtitles or displaying them in a different color from the subtitles for the Hindi dialogue.
- The story was okay overall, but the plot details left a lot to be desired. Supporting characters are introduced to move the story along, but are never seen again. Rahul is the only character to undergo any kind of character development (Meena falling in love with him is more plot progress than character development).
- Meena fleeing her forced marriage is the catalyst for the story, but she doesn’t have a single scene alone with her father (played by Sathyaraj) to discuss her desire to choose her own husband. Instead, the climactic fight scene is preceded by Rahul giving her dad a condescending speech about women’s rights. Dad ignores the speech and declares that the winner of the fight gets to marry Meena.
- The final fight scene takes place in Bollywood’s favorite generic fight setting: a public square full of market stalls just waiting to be destroyed. In addition to the obligatory bangle stand and pile of clay pots, director Rohit Shetty introduces a new kind of product to be decimated: a table full of plastic Tupperware containers!
- The beautiful scenery in Tamil Nadu is the real star of the film. Check it out: