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    It is almost a year since Chennai Express, a record breaking Indian blockbuster of  the king of Bollywood, Sha Rukh Khan, was released. This Indian flick may have a few surprise lessons for students of the movie craft.

    It is one of those rare events on the silver screen, which provides a lot of insight to anyone seriously considering to master the craft of cinema and how to press the right buttons to enter the hearts of millions.

    Bollywood films routinely become blockbusters with record collections at the box office, thanks to a captive audience looking out for a pass-time and burdened with a deficit of IQ and excess of money in their pockets both in India and abroad.


    Chennai Express which got only sub zero marks from film critics, but managed to add a record number of zeros to its box office collection, however, is different and something of a a mystery of the Indian silver screen.

    No one really knows how and when the ‘rail cars’ of Chennai Express, with such complexity  that  they could all have hardly come alive in a single brain, came together.

    If Chennai Express was a typical director’s film it might have been a Rohit Shetty film. It is actually a  unique flick, with a lot more deeper and serious facets to it than a film director’s work of entertainment. Many of those can be attributed to its hero, the Indian movie star and entrepreneur, Sha Rukh Khan.

    A rail car named desire.

    It is clearly the enormous desire of Sha Rukh Khan to make more money by investing wisely in a sure-fire formula which compelled him to venture out to make a film with Rohit Shetty, who is a young Indian director with a string of blockbusters under his belt. Rohit had cracked what the modern Indian audience wanted and was ready to to pour oil on any desire which made good commercial sense. The result could hardly be anything but explosive. Chennai Express, a deceptively dangerous theme, was the product of bold commercial vision of Khan, as suicidal as it is genius.

    A script no one will touch

    With the fire of desire in its gut, the express train of Sha Rukh and Rohit Shetty could have gone in any direction, but it took a southern turn with its script writer Subhash, son of a veteran southern film director, connected with the leaders of linguistic strife in India before independence.

    It was no surprise that his script came with a genesis of an impossible dream of unity and harmony between southern and northern India, which broke down with the departure of the British and was aggravated by the linguistic division of India after independence.

    From Helen of Troy to Gone with the wind, regional human conflict had been the backdrop of great classics, depicted truthfully and presented to audiences who can discern life from entertainment.

    However, it would be utterly irresponsible to ignore consequences of chauvinism, even if it is in mere movie entertainment, in the 21st century India more divided and ignitable than ever.



    The script of Chennai express, dealing with the love of a northern man to a southern belle  was explosive any day, novel yet fraught with danger of massive protests and national grief if not a civil war, with the risk of negative stereotyping of south Indians.  Though the script has a strong message of the power of love to unite everyone, almost impossible to deliver today as it was nearly a century back, the great Khan was audacious enough to grab it because he saw a divine touch of great commercial success.

    The divine touch

    What actually created the spark of creation of Chennai Express was a touch almost divine as the one in the Creation of Adam of Michel Angelo. It was the final touch of Khan’s own blockbuster  Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge,  still running in Mumbai after  two decades, as the longest running flick.



    Khan has instantly recognised that the feel of goodness where he left off in DDLJ is his ticket for Chennai Express which had the pulling power to drag millions of Indian hearts along with him in to it. It not only sealed the script of the movie but also the soft corner he has managed to sneak in to in millions of hearts worldwide.



    Taking off of Chennai Express with a train scene he has enacted two decades back, this time with a new girl, a southern beauty, undoubtedly is the strongest push the film could have received to take it safely through the north south divide. Only one person, Sha Rukh Khan alone could give that push.

    Lungi dance, an outlandish epitaph

    The inclusion of a bizarre tribute to a southern superstar for the credits background of Chennai Express  shows the dangers the movie will have to encounter which Sha Rukh Khan and his team were aware of and masterfully tackled.

    The Lungi dance must have diffused any southern ill feeling the southern audience may have felt before leaving the cinema and enthralled everyone with its rap, beat and energy. If the charisma of Sha Rukh himself was the powerful engine dragging Chennai Express forward through the uncertain linguistic terrain, the popularity of a southern superstar, Rajnikanth has worked as a second engine safely pushing the train forward to its destination. Undoubtedly, a master-stroke in risk management.


    Chennai  Express is a story which needs no language. Even a magical switch in the film's language, with only two characters speaking its original language which makes it no less interesting but unique, its  message of unity and harmony through a song which could be India’s new national anthem are all stuff of interest to acolytes of the art of film making.










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    2 comments:

    1. Chennai Express is a story which needs no language. Even a magical switch in the story’s language with just two characters speaking its original language makes it no less interesting but unique, its message of unity and harmony through a song which could be India’s new national anthem are all stuff of interest to acolytes of the art of film making.

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    2. This is one of my favourite films in my life!! :)

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