Written by Siddharth Akhouri - Special to Times of Oman
Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Nikitan Dheer, Sathyaraj.
Director: Rohit Shetty
Shahrukh Khan's films have this huge disadvantage of being handicapped by mammoth expectations. But if you can wrap around your head to the fact that this is out and out a Rohit Shetty film, you ought to have a fun-filled sumptuous and satisfying experience.
As Rohit Shetty's movies have it, each of the frames is overtly colourful. There are customary massive action sequences with blowing up cars; set pieces, trademark silly one-liners and senseless laugh out loud sequences.
The first half is fast paced, breezy and you are hit by one sequence after another without much time to think as the story progresses at a feverish pace. The sequences which lead to the ultimate confusion are interestingly done and the film keeps hitting the right note with some genuinely funny moments. Note the sequence in the train between Deepika and Shahrukh where they have to talk through songs.
Once the script reaches its crescendo, Meena reaching her village with Rahul, you expect the film to soar only higher but from here the film starts to falter. The sequences hereafter are patchy as some work wonderfully and some fall flat on their faces.
As the second half starts, you soon realise that the script has exhausted all its artillery in the first half itself as the story starts to stagnate. The movie from here that it gets completely dependant on gags and it starts to feel a little too desperate to be funny. There are some funny sequences but the second half largely works due to the electrifying chemistry between the lead pair as the film shifts its focus from comedy to romance. The blossoming romance between Shahrukh and Deepika is captured nicely and keeps you engaged even if the story is adamant to not move any further.
Many may find Chennai Express cliché ridden as it is a homage to the true 'blue romantic comedies' of the 90's. So naturally you have the warring couple who eventually fall in love, the opposing father, the villainous fiancé and the overtly dramatic sequence where the hero falls to the ground and only wakes up at the last moment to the sound of his loved one to bash up the goons. You may have seen this a hundred times before but it still is refreshing the way Rohit has done it and reminds us why we had loved this kind of cinema so much in the past.
Frankly it is also a welcome change from the usual superhuman cops bashing up baddies for no rhyme or reason; movies that we have been enduring in the name of entertaining cinema.
Shahrukh Khan unleashes all his charm and experience over the years into his character and comes up with a winning performance. He may be a little loud and over-enthusiastic in a few comic scenes but is at his usual best in the romantic and emotional scenes.
As many of you may know, 1970's had Hema Malini, 80's had Sridevi and now the gap is being filled by Deepika. She gets a terrific opportunity and gives her career best performance and outshines even King Khan. She looks mesmerising in her sarees and does wonders with the Tamil accent.
Nikiten Dheer and Sathyaraj bear the same expression all throughout the film but it suits their character and honestly there is nothing much to do for any character other than the lead.
The music fits well with the movie but leaves a lot to be desired. It is a pleasant score by Vishal Shehar but somehow feels mediocre compared to their standards.
Obviously you do not expect enlightenment or a life changing experience from a Rohit Shetty movie. This is fast food cinema at its best with dollops of fun and a robust dash of romance for quick gratification.