Rajeev Masand

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Off the rails


Chennai Express

Rating: 2

August 09, 2013

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Nikitin Dheer, Sathyaraj, Mukesh Tiwari

Director: Rohit Shetty

Some films are hard to make sense of. Others are just nonsense. Chennai Express, directed by Rohit Shetty, ticks both boxes. More than a quarter of the film is in Tamil, and hence incomprehensible if you’re unfamiliar with the language. The rest is a stew of puerile humor, lazy stereotypes, and way-over-the-top acting from a star who appears to be trying too hard.

Shah Rukh Khan, who’s provided enough evidence to convince us that he can do comedy effortlessly (remember Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, DDLJ, and Main Hoon Na?), spends a chunk of this film referencing his earlier hits, and bouncing off the walls like the Energizer bunny. Could he possibly be overworking himself to compensate for the film’s tired writing? Because it’s clear from Chennai Express that Shetty has launched an elaborate expedition with a plot so thin, it could give a paper dosa a run for its money.

That plot involves SRK’s character, Rahul (yes, again!) boarding the Chennai Express, intending to sneak off to Goa to vacation with his buddies, although he’s tasked with immersing his grandpa’s ashes in Rameswaram. But when he encounters Meena (Deepika Padukone), who’s on the run from her father (Sathyaraj), a don in a Tamil Nadu village, Rahul is tricked into going back with her and pretending to be her fiance. This comes with its own set of complications – Meena is betrothed to the hulking, glowering Thangabali (Niketan Dheer), which is why she made a mad dash from her village in the first place. As Rahul and Meena scramble all over South India to escape daddy’s goons, we struggle to catch up.

Chennai Express attempts to marry the puppy-dog sentimentality of a typical Shah Rukh Khan romance with the broad humor and the crash-bang-boom thrills of a Rohit Shetty action comedy. But the film does little justice to either genre. A big reason for that is the lethargic pacing. Shetty has pulled off cornier stories in the past, delivering gags and stunts at breakneck speed. This film, however, is a tough slog because the jokes aren’t funny, and the set pieces entirely rehashed. In place of a real performance, Shan Rukh resorts to the sort of facial gymnastics that could shame an Olympian. To endure this indulgence, you have to be a die-hard fan.

Deepika Padukone, meanwhile, stays firmly in character throughout. Her heavily accented Meena delivers some genuine laughs, particularly during one terrific scene in which she sleep-talks as if she were possessed. Six years after debuting opposite Shah Rukh in Om Shanti Om, she displays comic chops to rival his.

The pair doesn’t get much scope to ignite romantic chemistry, save for one scene after interval, when Shah Rukh carries Deepika in his arms, and proceeds to climb up 300 steps to a temple on the top of a hill. His face bathed in sweat, his eyes alive with intensity, Shah Rukh takes each step with unflappable commitment, and Deepika can’t take her eyes off him.

Alas, moments like these are in short supply here. What you get are insipid songs, a long sermon on women empowerment, more cars being flipped like pancakes and so many references to Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge that you wish you were sitting in Maratha Mandir watching that film instead.

I’m going with a generous two out of five for Chennai Express. How to put this politely? It’s a big, fat bore. A bloated vanity project for an actor capable of so much more.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

100 Responses to “Off the rails”

  1. sashwat says:

    Man..This was expected from you..You ain’t rate and talk good about mindless-masala movies..I too don’t enjoy those movies much..But this time you got it totally wrong..Being a responsible critic you must mention the group of people who would like it..SRK is just fabulous in this character in his own style..Even his overacting is totally enjoyable..He’s just effortless..Yes its mindless and Rohit shetty style,yes it has no logic,but its a total family entertainer..Go for the movie with your family and you will come out of the auditorium with a big smile in your face..People are loving it.Don’t try to find logic in it,Just watch the movie for entertainment.This is the best ever Masala movie of bollywood.SRK Rocks.The Real Badshah.

  2. GB says:

    It’s by far the worst Bollywood film I’ve come across! The script is not only derailed but Rohit seems to have directed the film in a state of coma. I mean think of it? There is no limit to the kind of nonsensical films we get today. One is worse than the other. But this generations seems to have accepted that this is how films are made in our times. But then you got some guys who challenge this status-quo and create something different. With Chennai Express we are not only riding backwards in time, it is so torturous to watch that I almost wanted to slap SRK with his cheesy ‘trying-so-hard’ dialogues. Deepika was 100 times better than SRK – atleast her accent and dialogue delivery were good but what ruined it for her also was when SRK tried to speak in tamil! phewwwwww!…..SRK should be sensible to retire gracefully. The biggest mistake he is making is coming in films which are literally breaking down his tower of success consistently. It’s better to not have a film from SRK than to have one – sad but true!……Look at Salman….his films are equally demented…but the star somehow doesn’t try to hard. He is what he is in his films which is exactly why the crowd adores the nonsense. With SRK, he is trying to be what he is not and that’s where he’s killing his own self. I have been a SRK fan all my life….but its so sad to see the star dig his own grave. And Rohit Shetty – if you’re so keen to pack your bags and head south on a chennai express, then do it on your own time. Stop making such movies and then getting the audiences to waste their time and money. Deepika – for god sakes never pair with SRK again….that’s if you want to save your own career.

  3. mhrizvi says:

    Chennai Express is far better film than released recently. An excellent film deserve more than two * s . Excellent photography.

  4. Praman Pal says:

    Sir this time u r not right.This movie is full of entertainment.I really liked the movie.There are so many people who haven’t seen the movie and yet agreeing with you ,thanking you for saving their money.Such a pity.

  5. NAGARJUNA says:

    Comedy does not suits SRK …… 🙁

  6. sunny bali says:

    I guess movie successfully delivered what it promised to, check out http://watzhappening.com/2013/08/10/chennai-express-worthwhile-journey/ and http://snybali.blogspot.in/2013/08/chennai-express-review.html …I tried to give somewhat fair review though pesonally I didnt like the movie that much,but reviews are to advise fans and no fans alike, hope you all like it.

  7. Aman says:

    i don’t like the movie ,,, there is no story and the genre of the movie is comedy/action
    so there are some scenes that i like in this movie which are comedy scenes and you all know that action of rohit shetty’s movie have no sense … overall i am giving this movie 1 star …

  8. Ritu says:

    I DISAGREE to your review. It’s very entertaining movie. It seems few critics wait for SRK’s movie and put on their BAKWAS review. I have one question for Mr Rajeev, did he look for logic in movies like Ek thaTiger? Sir, please just cause you speak good doesn’t mean you should use wrong comments. Chennai Express is a superb family comic movie. Kudos to Shetty and his group.
    Mr Masand…your Pasand is really rotten!!!

  9. viswaprasad says:

    By far the most BAKWAS movie…

  10. Zafar Ahmed says:

    SRK has lost it. WHy does he do movies like this. I guess he needs to do his homeowkr well and pick quality movies with good plot. Its not like directors have stopped making good movies. There are a plenty better than Chennai express.

  11. Sharmila says:


    I actually enjoyed watching the movie, especially the first half. Cinematography was superb. SRK looks great in this movie. Its so much better than the brainless comedies I have seen in a while. It would be better if you understand both the languages but, it wont stop you from enjoying the movie.It was a pleasure to watch a clean movie after a long time. Can watch it with anyone, from kids to oldies.Everyone should give a try watching it.

  12. Triple H says:

    Bang on review…I was so disappointed when i watched this sh.. movie. SRK looks and acts like a joker in this movie.
    He should retire now.
    Double thumbs down..

  13. Amit says:

    You’re bang on target, Rajeev. We have a lot of fan following for SRK and comments on the blog that dont agree with you are from people who belong to that category.

  14. Ranga says:

    Honestly I did not expect much from a Rohit Shetty movie. Shah Rukh being the super star is so of the mark in this movie. I could see a lot of insecurity in his screen presence. The whole movie seems to me as a bunch of photos in an album with absolutely no story or plot for us to follow.The only saving grace for this movie is Deepika and her acting.

  15. Mallikajun says:

    Dude, I salute you for being unbiased and not bullied by mainstream morons.
    Kudos to you.
    We certainly deserve a better cinema.

  16. Sudha says:

    I agree that only a diehard fan of SRK would like this movie. Being a diehard fan I loved it. Deepika I feel is the Hrithik of heroines. But please convey to SRK that he needs more character in his role. Like in Chak De or Don. He has given enough hits and made enough money & fame. Now he can play a different game, Strong character, why not a a lawyer or any strong centralised role. I felt sad to see my favourite star like this.

  17. mansoor says:

    hey..rajeev, it deserves 4star rating man….the whole theatre enjoyed the film !!!! the movie was simply smiles all round…the last “thalaiva” song made public really shout and dance in theatre. This place(vizag) is no place for packed theatres for hindi film…but in the weekday,,it was really difficult to get the tickets…thouroughly enjoyed…

  18. Gururaj says:

    The journey with Chennai Express wasn’t bad at all.

  19. Amol Gholap says:

    Pathetic movie

  20. Anand J says:

    There are always two sides of a coin, and ‘Chennai Express’ is no exception. For some it’s a mindless melodrama but for many it’s a mind-blowing family entertainer and complete fun. SRK and Deepika are phenomenal in their twosome act and it’s a treat to watch their commendable performances complementing each other effortlessly in their own style. One advise, do get rid of any perceptions you might have for this movie generated due to negative reviews and be ready to bask in the glory of simply awesome southern culture and mystical South.

    The film is virtually a tribute for common man to forego their overdose of everyday sufferings to get respite and unwind at least for some time. Full credit will go to Rohit Shetty for his efforts though many may feel uncomfortable with the language and need for subtitle but message is simple, ‘unity in diversity’..and to feel it..watch ‘Chennai Express’ non-stop and at full speed..on a roll…Jai ho !!

  21. Sagar Gandhi says:

    Superb movie:)

  22. Sreejith says:

    I totally agree with you Mr. Masand. Chennai Express is a really dumb, stupid and for most part a pedestrian comedy. In fact I knew its gonna be a pretty ordinary film right from the word go but honestly was waiting to see it just because SRK was in it (I never missed a film of his till date). But to be frank watching him was the worst part in the movie. He overacts, he hams it up and he even markets his lumia phone in one of those WTF moments.!! Its hightime he repaid his loyal fans with a classy film like Chak De and Swades. let’s hope he does next time around.

  23. Rajeev Gupta says:

    Photography was extremely good, Shahrukh and Deepika pair was misfit, age effect shows on the face of Shahrukh, some scenes were inspired by DDLJ, overall it can be seen once, I believe 2 star by Rajeev Masand is absolutely OK.

  24. stevan says:

    PATHETIC MOVIE EVER SINCE 00000000000000000***************** STAR FROM MY SIDE

  25. gaurav says:

    Now the movies are just released for one weekend. release it in 4000-4500 screens. and get huge business. so boring…. and still getting 100 cr in 3 days. pathetic…

  26. subhamoy mittra says:

    Good to see SRK finally raking in the Moolah. Remember him being overthrown by sinister actors just because they reached the so called 100 cr, 200 cr Club. About TIME we see the right person at the top. Having said that, deeply want him back to making courageous movies that he is known for once he is done with these ambitions.

  27. anil rathod says:

    truely agree…..

  28. swapnil says:

    As far the trends every A listed actor are doing such films lyk ett, dabangg 1 & 2, rowdy rathore..etc etc… Jus to collect moolah at the box office and srk has done the same then there is no wrong…his earlier film was MNIK, RA-ONE, DON2, JTHJ…all are of different genres and certainly not a mass appeal so they fail to cash at the bo…now if he has done Chennai exprss thn whts wrong with that, its rohit Shetty film and all knows what kinda film he direct…non-sense comedy…but it works , what audience needs these actors do….and Chennai express has done a business of 156 cr in 1st week (india only)….this figure shows what kinda film public want to see….dont be so harsh on such kinda movies its just a different genre,…
    personall i believe , in 100 cr club only 3 films deserve 3idiots, barfi and bhaag milkha bhaag…

  29. Himanshu says:

    With this final nail in the coffin i sadly announce the demise of two “once they were” genious in film industry.
    SRK and Rohit Shetty. Golmaal the 1st was an absolute comedy riot. Genius work. SRK; last mature work i remember was Chak de India from him. Thereafter he is such a shame.
    If you think 100 crore or 200 crore or 1000 crore is measure of success ….. your wrong. Cinema is an art and just because this country doesnt not have ample option for spending sparetime then movies; sucking flicks like CE and other popular money making movies are making a loot.
    give any one from rickshaw guy to a tycoon 10 option to spend his\spare time and then show them this peice of waste ….. lets see how much they will like this.
    India seriously need directors like Anurag Kashyap and actors like Irfan Khan or even Amir Khan.

    I agree Mr Masand was too linient to give CE 2 stars …… i would have defined a new category of no stars for this exclusive garbage.

  30. Sudeep Shetty says:

    This movie was better than SRK’s old flicks after RA-ONE. Though to feel more south like lot of make up being done w.r.t CGI. It was a good time pass…This is what you expect from Rohit shetty

  31. Ashraf says:

    I totally disagree with your ratings.. Its fully entertaining movie. no boring.. superb acting both SRK and Deepika..

  32. Vindya says:

    Rajeev gets his review partially right because one enjoys the movie so much more only if you can understand Tamil. The expressions are never the same when translated ! The movie does have its share of laughs, really good performance by Deepika and a couple of decent songs (bad job by Vishal Shekhar considering their talent). But what lets it down is the over-the-top action scenes (quite not believable) and the fluctuating performance by Shahrukh Khan. I am a die-hard fan of his but sadly this one was let down from him. His overacting just shatters the fans’ hopes of a brilliant performance who can do much better than this. His promotions have got him the money but I am disappointed with this movie. Having said that, the brighter part is that the movie is watchable and hardly a dull moment in the movie. A mindless-masala movie it is!

  33. Tushar Barfiwala says:

    There should be a provision of negative ranking for such movies….

  34. Mansi says:

    Couldnt agree more with your review, Rajeev.

    Here’s what I thought about the film


  35. Sharma says:

    crap movies like CE shouldn’t be reviewed at all !!! @Masand sir, please review only those movies which need watching irrespective of star cast…..

  36. Vivek Dhiman says:

    It was really a stupid movie, total waste of money and time. Shahrukh and Salman fans are very loyal to them, they will like just any crappy movie no matter how stale the story is or how bad the acting and direction is. For me Chennai Express got derailed in the first 10 minutes, the rest I watched like a critic 😀 I dont like over masala, it gives me acidity 😛 but thank God there is still some hope left for bollywood, looking forward for “Lunchbox”
    I really like your reviews Rajeev, you’re the most genuine movie critic. Every time you are sopt on whether it’s about bollywood movies or about hollywood movies. Keep up the good work.

  37. Abram says:

    Movie for the masses , not for the critics

  38. Nazim Haque says:

    I will totally go for the movie.. it was fantastic movie. its just that you should know it is a funny movie and you should expect comedy.. why would you expect SRK to be like the one in Chak De, DDLJ, My name is khan..
    come on guys.. all those who did not like this movie.. did not know what to expect. It reminds me of a friend of mine.. who ordered a dark coffee at a coffee shop and did not like it because he never had one before and was expecting it to be like a TEA… come on guys you should know what do you want.

  39. Dipu says:

    Nothing to comment on the story, since there is no storyline. First half was well paced with almost no lag in screenplay. After the song ‘kashmir se’ it started dragging. And the comedy part, at times was so pathetic. After all it’s a one time watch masala movie, only because of SRK. A good family entertainer.

  40. Karan says:

    For the people who loved the film,

    Dear All,

    First of all pertaining to Mr. Masand’s review just like all of us he has a right to his opinion and a very successful critic due to his opinion.
    Secondly for a moment please put us aside the term ” Leave your brains at home” and go and watch the film because HELLO it is a damn oxymoron that you are claiming that it is a brainless film. Let me give you a little synopsis about me I am one of the biggest SRK fan that this world has produced and I hated this film and when I say hate I mean it with a passion.

    The film was made to make us look bad and a slap on our face saying that hey guys you are stupid cause we can go on making utter rubbish and we will go running to the bank with a smile cause we made complete jackasses of you. Again I am not looking for a debate this is my opinion. Sorry but people like Mr. Masand who is very succesful at his job is just warning us in advance not to get fooled and I respect it. Not that it stopped me to go and watch the film and nor did it do it for you.

    For the guys who didnt like the flick :

    You guys rock and I know now for sure GOD does exist… lol


    Karan (Jayu)

  41. Pinky says:

    We walked out at interval…feel very cheated, want my money back!

  42. Arunabh says:

    Notwithstanding your hard as nails summary, the verdict is out. And how! It has routed top grossers of all time in a fraction of their run-times. Does that say something about the crowd puller that Shahrukh is?
    My daughter, wife and I came out of the theatre grinning ear to ear and humming the Thalaiva number. Once in while you got to leave your logic circuit off and enjoy the laughs and gigs. Let your hair down, ever?

  43. Himanshu says:

    Hi Rajeev, Always I listen to you, not in the case of CE… I have found it very entertaining…. Long sustaining of the movie proves it liking by the public..

    Unlike other I know you are not partial and favoring any camp.. But this time You got it wrong…

  44. Kakarot says:

    Its a sad thing for Indian cinema that all our top actors, even the so called ‘King’ of Bollywood (which he clearly doesnt deserve due to his over-acting all these years), have joined the ranks of people making incredibly absurd movies with no plot, stupid script and a show of horrendous acting, thereby continuously degrading the quality of bollywood and making a mockery of the fans expectations. But what troubles me is that these kind of films rake in 100s of crores which clearly shows us that the Indian viewers have resigned to their fate and accepted that nothing can be done now and that they have to be content with all the mindless bullshit thrown at them. “Leave your minds at home” used to be associated with only Govindas films earlier(some of which were actually pretty good) but now it has become Bollywoods motto. If such kind of films keep releasing and making fortunes then I think perfectly sane people like me will stop watching bollywood flicks altogether.
    A disgruntled bollywood fan.


    We were expecting too much from SRK specially in the absence of Salman.

    But he disappointed alot.

  46. abhi says:

    its a good family entertainer , at least i enjoyed it a lot n even my friends who r not SRK fans enjoyed it .

  47. Amin Ajani says:

    Nice review as always Mr. Masand. 🙂 Here’s my review of ‘Chennai Express’ http://aajani.blogspot.ca/2013/08/movie-review-chennai-express_12.html Get of the train baby

  48. Nasreen says:

    The movie was great. Why there should always be serious movies? Sometimes people need to laugh and be able to go and enjoy a movie with their entire family. For the first time, I was able to go and watch the movie with my parents and not scared of any sex scene…Great job Rohit and SRK sir.

  49. Sahil says:

    I think Shah Rukh Khan acted brilliantly but the script let him down. Also, Deepika Padukone looks so wooden to me; she needs to find herself better roles. I’m glad I watched this movie on a pirated CD, it would have been a colossal waste otherwise.

  50. Ramki says:

    thoroughly enjoyed the movie, it was really out and out comedy movie and it lived upto its name !

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