Review: 'Chennai Express'
Dammit! No out-takes!! Is this really a Rohit Shetty film? Every film of the 'Gol Maal' director has so far ended with out-takes giving us entertaining glimpses from during the making of the film. Here those trademark Shetty out-takes are replaced by a Honey Singh track which celebrates Rajnikanth and the lungi.
The rest of the film resembles those typical sambar-and-sandalwood creations by K. Raghvendra Rao, and worse still, Raj Kanwar's 'Dhai Akshar Prem Ke' where Aishwarya to escape her parental wrath at her elopement, introduces to her family a man she has just met as her soul-mate.
Of course, there are the flying cars exploding in the air to make sure we know that all said and drummed, this is a Rohit Shetty presentation.
Packaged with pickled precision, peppered with just the right doses of naughty jokes and precocious pranks that go well with Shah Rukh's 40-year-old brat's act, 'Chennai Express' is the kind of non-toxic comic entertainer where the most damaging double-entendres you'd get is a Tamil word that sounds like Angelina Jolie's name.
That brings me to another major hurdle in the heap of hilarity that Shetty builds so meticulously in the first-half.
The generous outflow of Tamil that seems initially engaging (more so, since Shah Rukh shares our non-comprehension of the rapid-fire Tamilian cloudburst that accompanies Deepika's quicksilver character) begins to come in the way as the narration grows older and runs out of energy.
But then there is the sprightly Deepika as the runaway Tamilian girl who piles on to the North Indian mithaiwala stranger to escape marrying the boorish fiancee back home in her village in Tamil Nadu.
We've seen Kareena Kapoor do the chirpy runaway train traveller in 'Jab We Met'. Deepika brings a special filtered-coffee flavour to her chirpy character. Even that broad hammy accent grows on us.
Yes, we like! Here she is the only Rohit Shetty team member (and I use the term 'team' since Shetty generously credits the direction to himself and his team) who seems to have a firm grip over her rudderless dithering character.
Deepika plays Meena Amma with flavourful flourish. She is specially delightful in three key sequences, two of them comic and the other unexpectedly sombre.
In the sequence where her character turns into a sleeping, kicking and convulsive zombie, she's unbelievably goofy. It's not just Shah Rukh who gets a kick out of that scene.
Would Rohit Shetty please do a full-fledged out-and-out comedy with Deepika? That, 'Chennai Express' is not. It is a half-hearted but laugh-hearted effort that makes the fatal error of taking itself too seriously.
Towards the end when the utterly shammed climactic fight ensues, we even have a long speech by Shah Rukh on the social status of the girl child.
Not now, please!
As we squirm at the attempt to turn comedy into a serious business we look back at the rest of the film with some amount of warmth and affection.