Monthly Archives: August 2013

I am a Tamilian, and I loved Chennai Express

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First, it was Deepika Padukone’s ridiculous south Indian accent that put me off. Really, it was bokwaas!

Then, it was the stereotypical dark thugs in the film that irked me.

When the trailers showed Kathakali dancers and kalaripayatu, I yelled that Chennai is not Kerala… High time we got that right!

Let’s not even get started about Yo yo Honey Singh’s tribute to Thalaiva.

Above all of it, I was heartbroken that SRK would do a film such as this.

But, it was a Shahrukh film, there was no way I wasn’t going to see this one. So I held back my apprehensions, left my brain at home and decided to go watch a film for what it’s meant to be – pure entertainment.

I loved it.

I must admit, I was one of those people who vowed never to watch this film because it degraded my roots and insulted the intellect of my people and a whole lot of other regional chauvinism that I feel so awful for being a part of. This film taught me that.

Show me one Hindi film where Punjabis are not portrayed as a loud and continually ecstatic lot? If we were talking about taking offence, the Punjabis must stand up first. But they’ve taken it in their stride, haven’t they?

Let’s talk about the film itself. So the script was loose, predictable, apparently not funny, fantastical, unreal, unbelievably stupid and a host of other adjectives that all the reviews were full of. But what I saw was simply Rohit Shetty paying tribute to the blockbuster commercial tamil film of recent times.

For Tamilians reading this post, Rajni bouncing a chewing gum off another man’s head or flipping a cigarette into his mouth are soooper.

Don’t get me wrong. Like for every tamilian, with sound upbringing, Rajni is God for me. If Rajni did it, then only Rajni can do it, because, well, he is God.

But what we fail to see is that every popular commercial tamil film is just this – average man, accidental encounter with beautiful woman, whose father is almost always the villain. This is followed by a battle of sorts to win the girl’s heart, her village’s heart, her family’s heart and finally her father’s heart.

In the process, our hero finds his own heart, learns to become a better person, finds his life’s true calling yada yada.

Wait, isn’t that the script of Chennai Express?

The few movies that Tamil stars have made, that have slight meaning, were box office bombers. Take Rajni’s Baba for example. The story was gripping. Its moral was divine, literally. Here’s a film that showed how excess is always bad. That power must be used for the right things. It was film that spoke about those values that are rapidly fading in Indian society. But no one liked it. We just want to go for a film that shows exciting fight scenes, splendid locales, colour, comedy, a gorgeous heroine who has no role whatsoever, except for the voyeuristic use of her body and the hero showing the audience why he is the hero.

So, Rohit Shetty did not insult our intellect, we have been doing so for over two decades now. At least in his film, Shetty ensured Deepika stole the show – which she did quite brilliantly – and wasn’t just eye-candy.

 

And Shahrukh Khan, as he has always done in the past, charmed his way right back into my heart. So what if the film was a DDLJ spoof? Albert Einstein had famously said how the mark of a genius is his ability to laugh at himself. Shahrukh did precisely that, with such elan.

“Rahul…naam to nahi suna hoga” SRK was trolling himself. But we instead, criticise.

Yes, film experts talk about how the standard of cinema is falling and so are the expectations of the audience.

But, when life is already so serious, one movie now and then, that is in fact brainless, is something we all are in desperate need of!