Movie Review: Chennai Express, starts off well but turns into the same old story
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Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Sathyaraj, Nikitin Dheer
Director: Rohit Shetty
The Indian Express rating: **1/2
Wannakum, wannago? I went into Chennai Express dreading I would be doused, doused I tell you, with a staggering number of stereotypes, and that I would spend the film flinching and grimacing and counting the minutes.
But as Chennai Express began chugging along, I found myself guffawing in a place. Or two. The laughs came intermittently through the first half, and I was still sitting in my seat at the interval. And then it turned into the same old story : the plot, which was thinner than a self-respecting wafer to start with, just gives up and dies, and the lead pair, Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone stop talking to each other (even as Padukone's thickly-accented "main aati, aur thum jaati" out-Mehmoods Mehmood at his most outre) and begin posturing. They have no competition from anything else : the trademark Shetty bang bang – car chases, jeeps blowing up, large groups of people charging at each other — is by now more eye glaze than ever.
This could have been a good caper, in which madcap characters race around the countryside with other madcap characters in hot pursuit. Especially when Shah Rukh Khan is so willingly sending himself up as only he can, with such a knowing nudge-and-wink that you smile despite yourself. "Rahul", he introduces himself to Meenamaa (Padukone): "naam toh nahin suna hoga". You know you are being set up, and yet you can't help being amused. The amusement lasts only momentarily, and you are left feeling sorry at the waste.
Rahul wants to head to Goa to party with his pals, but he gets on to the Chennal Express instead, to fulfil his late dadaji's dying wish. On that train hops the beauteous Meenakshi aka Meenamma, on the run from her appa (Sathyaraj) who is some kind of a don in a Tamil Nadu village, and who wants to marry her off. One thing leads to another, and the two reach said village. Towering hulk who is also would-be-groom (Dheer) arrives to growl and snarl. A phalanx of dark-complexioned fierce fellows shake sickles at Rahul, who is left to face a barrage of rapid-fire Tamilian yakkity yak, and a Meenamma who dimples prettily whenever she is given a chance, and a film that rapidly heads, ha ha, south.