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Chennai Express

Cast: Shahrukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Nikitin Dheer, Sathyaraj, Priyamani, Kamini Kaushal, Lekh Tandon
Language: Hindi
Banner: Utv Motion Pictures, Red Chillies Entertainment
Director: Rohit Shetty
Producer: Ronnie Screwvala, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Gauri Khan, Karim Morani
Camera: Dudley
Story: K Subhash
Screenplay: Yunus Sajawal, Robin Bhatt
Dialogue: Farhad, Sajid 1
Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya, Yo Yo Honey Singh
Music: Vishal Dadlani, Shekhar Ravjiani, Yo Yo Honey Singh
Distribution: UTV Motion Pictures
Year: 2013

The season of biggies commences from Eid onwards. And it sets in motion with the global release of CHENNAI EXPRESS. Shah Rukh Khan. Deepika Padukone. Rohit Shetty. UTV. Four formidable entities that translate into the ultimate, unbeatable combination. The timing couldn't be better as well: Eid. The hype and buildup, obviously, is humungous. The question is, does CHENNAI EXPRESS live up to the gargantuan expectations? Does it deliver entertainment, entertainment and entertainment in colossal doses? After all, that's what you expect when you embark on this journey called CHENNAI EXPRESS, right?

Rohit Shetty's funda is simple: Entertain the spectator with larger-than-life heroism, amusing episodes, high-pitched drama, clap-trap and fiery dialogue, foot-tapping music, gravity-defying action, mass appealing humor... and of course, blow up as many cars as possible in trademark Rohit Shetty ishtyle. CHENNAI EXPRESS has all of that and much, much more. Rohit has regaled the spectators with his brand of cinema over the years, pioneering a path which many directors have tried to ape repeatedly. Rohit, of course, continues to stand tall, which is very evident as the reels of CHENNAI EXPRESS unspool.

CHENNAI EXPRESS is *not* path-breaking at all. Nor does it cater to those who scoff at potboilers. Rohit has always claimed that he's still that common man watching movies at a singleplex, so his movies, consequently, cater to those with an appetite for masalathons. CHENNAI EXPRESS lives up to the Himalayan expectations that you have from the project. It's an entertainer that proves that the SRK - Rohit Shetty combo is truly magical. In fact, it's one of the best combos to hit the masala film space.

Final word? Just leave everything and board this Express called CHENNAI EXPRESS. Pronto. This one's a feast for those who love, adore, relish and worship zany masala entertainers!

Rahul, a Mumbai-based person [Shah Rukh Khan], embarks on a journey to a town in Tamil Nadu to fulfill the last wish of his grandfather to have his ashes immersed in Rameshwaram. En route, he meets a South Indian girl, Meena [Deepika Padukone], who wants to flee from the clutches of her father [Sathyaraj], who wants her to get married to a person she doesn't love [Nikitin Dheer].

CHENNAI EXPRESS is a smartly packaged entertainer, an unabashed masala fare that packs just about everything that the avid moviegoer expects from a film of this stature. Relying heavily on the age-old formula of love emerging triumphant against all odds, CHENNAI EXPRESS is vintage stuff no doubt, but makes you swoon under its impact. Designed to woo the masses, very much akin to the kind of cinema Manmohan Desai made in the 1970s and 1980s, CHENNAI EXPRESS leaves you beaming, breaking into applause on varied occasions, as the plot advances.

CHENNAI EXPRESS is Rohit Shetty's version of DILWALE DULHANIA LE JAYENGE and he and his team of writers whip a tale that restores the spectator's faith in this much-loved genre of cinema. But there is sense and sensibility behind what unfurls on the screen. And that's what gives CHENNAI EXPRESS the required edge when you compare this film with his earlier works. The first half is laced with the usual banter between SRK and Deepika, but the film gets into the groove during the post-interval portions, more so when the love story takes off. Starting from the sequence at the temple, right till the power-packed finale, the graph of the film continues to soar upwards. SRK's dialogue with Deepika's father, the fight with Nikitin and of course, the 'lungi' dance towards the end credits... you exit the auditorium with a wide grin.

There are minor aberrations, of course. The placement of two songs, positioned one after the other in the second hour, could've been avoided. A few jokes in the first half do not create the desired impact. But, like I said, the love story and the ensuing drama in second hour more than compensates for the hiccups. In short, no matter how unconcerned, dismissive or cynical you may be of the combo's [SRK - Rohit Shetty] first film together, you cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that CHENNAI EXPRESS wins you over with the entertainment on display.

Surprisingly, there's not much action this time, but the one towards the climax wins hands down. The duel between SRK and Nikitin is what makes masala films work and work big time. Dudley's cinematography captures the mood of the film as well as the stunning locales of South India with flourish. Vishal-Shekhar's soundtrack is appropriate, especially '1234' and 'Titli'. The tribute to Rajnikanth is the icing on the cake. Even though the film's humor seems very tongue-in-cheek, the dialogue [Sajid-Farhad] make their presence felt, due to good play with nostalgia.

As Rahul, SRK is in top form. Rohit Shetty hands out a character to the actor which was lacking in some of his earlier works. And SRK does optimum justice to the character he's offered, doing a swell job of it in the process. Deepika seems to be climbing the ladder with every film. With this one, she takes a giant leap. Aiming for the masses after portraying the urban gal in films like COCKTAIL, RACE-2 and YEH JAWAANI HAI DEEWANI, Deepika's act [and her pronunciations] will steal your heart for sure.

Sathyaraj is super as Deepika's authoritative father. The actor conveys so much through his eyes. Nikitin Dheer's towering presence adds a lot of weight to his character. He could just become the new face of menace. Veterans Lekh Tandon and Kamini Kaushal, as SRK's grand-parents, make their presence felt.

On the whole, CHENNAI EXPRESS has the trademark Rohit Shetty stamp all over. You seek entertainment, entertainment and entertainment in a film like CHENNAI EXPRESS and the movie lives up to the hype and hoopla surrounding it. The tremendous craze surrounding the film, the Rohit Shetty - SRK - Deepika combo, the Eid release, besides the extensive release strategy by UTV, should ensure a record-breaking start for this biggie. Right from the paid previews to the opening weekend to Week 1, CHENNAI EXPRESS should be on a glorious march in days to come, setting new records in India and also in the international markets. All you lovers of masala movies, board this Express pronto!

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