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'Chennai Express' barrels into fun - Movie Review

August 10, 2013


Chennai Express (2013)

Starring Shahrukh Khan, Deepika Padukone

Chennai Express
Director Rohit Shetty's latest is another in a line of amped entertainers—a big pow of color, music, and action. The film's star, Shahrukh Khan, is hilarious as hapless and sidesplitting when scared witless. And in love, well, is anyone ever more affecting? The diminutive actor even manages to be a convincing tough guy when called upon.

Khan is working hard here for laughs, but clearly having fun doing it. He doesn't turn his Common Man role into a shtick and his character, Rahul, feels authentic. Khan keeps the superstar that he is at bay—unusual for the typically self-reflexive actor—while still making Rahul pop with loads of adorable personality.

Enjoyable outrageousness aside, the story has an interesting psychological conflict and a well-drawn arc. Rahul is a 40-year-old North Indian who was raised by his grandparents and unable to free himself from his grandfather's smothering love to get married and make a life of his own. When his grandfather finally dies on his 100th birthday, Rahul wants to do something for himself for once and makes plans to take a vacation with his buddies to Goa, on the western coast of India, on his own milestone birthday. When Rahul's grandmother asks him to take his grandfather's ashes to the tip of southern Indian instead, he lies to her, saying he will do it but doesn't intend to. His resentment explains his selfish behavior.

Rahul's trip to Goa gets sidetracked nonetheless when he encounters Meena (Deepika Padukone), the daughter of a South Indian mafia don, on the train. She is fleeing an arranged marriage and her father's hired guns are bringing her home. Rahul gets roped into returning with her, encounters more ugly goons than he can count—including Meena's Goliath of a fiancé—and by losing all control, learns the power of giving oneself willingly.

Padukone is the sass in Rahul's madcap adventure. She gives her character, Meena, both the cool of a privileged princess and the grit of a girl raised by a murderous sociopath. Khan and Padukone, who co-starred in Padukone's debut, Om Shanti Om (2007), might not scorch as a couple, but there is a lovely tenderness between them.

Chennai Express is rated Must See.

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