Sunday August 8, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Chennai Express

On this Day:

In 2013, the Hindi film “Chennai Express” premiered, directed by Rohit Shetty and starring Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone. It was the fastest Bollywood film to earn $1 billion.

Chennai Express is a 2013 Indian Hindi-language action comedy film directed by Rohit Shetty and produced by Ronnie Screwvala, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Gauri Khan and Karim Morani, based on a story by K. Subash, with a screenplay written by Yunus Sajawal and dialogues by Farhad-Sajid. The film stars Shah Rukh Khan as Rahul Mithaiwala, a man who accidentally boards the eponymous train and journeys from Mumbai to Rameswaram with the daughter of a local don, played by Deepika Padukone. Nikitin Dheer and Sathyaraj play supporting roles.

The first planned collaboration between Khan and Shetty was a remake of Angoor (1982). The script of Chennai Express, which was initially written as a backup project for Khan, was chosen instead. Conceived as a “commercial” romance, the film was originally titled Ready Steady Po. Filming began in Mehboob Studio in October 2012 and was completed by May 2013. A large part of the film was set in Ooty, for which sets were constructed in Wai. The soundtrack for Chennai Express was composed by Vishal–Shekhar, with the background score being composed by Amar Mohile. UTV Motion Pictures came on board as producer and distributor, marking its first active project with Khan, 9 years after Swades.

Chennai Express was released theatrically in overseas markets on 8 August 2013 and a day later in India. The film received mixed reviews from critics. Regardless, it broke several box office records in India and abroad, becoming the quickest film to collect ₹1 billion (US$14 million) net domestically. The film surpassed 3 Idiots to become the highest-grossing Bollywood film worldwide at that point. It is among the highest-grossing Bollywood films of all time worldwide.

Rahul Mithaiwala is a 28-year-old orphaned bachelor living in Mumbai. Raised by his grandparents from the age of eight, Rahul’s grandfather Bhishambhar owns a chain of confectionery shops. Before Bhishambhar’s 100th-birthday celebration, Rahul’s friends Bobby and Baman invite him to accompany them on a vacation in Goa, which he accepts. Meanwhile, Bhishambhar dies on the eve of the celebration, just when he witnesses Sachin Tendulkar on TV in a cricket match get dismissed on his 99th run. After Bhishambhar’s death, Rahul’s grandmother Neetu tells Rahul that Bhishambhar wanted his ashes to be divided into two parts—one part to be immersed in the Ganga, and the other in Rameswaram. She asks Rahul to take the ashes to Rameswaram and disperse them. Reluctantly, he accepts her request but is also eager to attend the Goa trip.

Rahul, Bobby and Baman plan to dump the ashes at Goa but Neetu wants to see him off, forcing Rahul to travel by train. He books a single ticket on the Chennai Express, planning to meet Bobby and Baman along the way, at Kalyan Junction station. However, Rahul forgets to take the ashes, and he almost misses the train when he returns to collect them. As Rahul tries to leave the train, he notices a young woman running to board it. He helps her and four other people board the moving train, but the train leaves the station before he can get off.

Rahul tries to flirt with the woman, who starts communicating by singing parodies of Hindi film songs, and explains that the four men are trying to kidnap her. Rahul lends her his mobile phone so that she can contact her friends, but the men with her grab it and throw it from the train. Rahul is annoyed but says nothing because the men are carrying weapons. Rahul tells the Travelling Ticket Examiner about them, but they push the inspector into a river below a bridge. Panicked, Rahul learns that the four men are her cousins and that her real name is Meenalochni “Meenamma” Azhagusundaram. She is fleeing from a forced marriage to a ruffian named Tangaballi. Meenamma’s father, Durgeshwara “Durgesh” Azhagusundaram, is a powerful headman of the local mafia in Tamil Nadu.

Meenamma takes Rahul to Durgesh and introduces Rahul as her lover. Tangaballi challenges Rahul to a duel that Rahul unknowingly accepts, due to his lack of knowledge in Tamil. On the night of the duel, Rahul escapes with the help of a local policeman, Shamsher, but he ends up on a ship with Sri Lankan terrorists and smugglers. A gun battle ensues between the police force and the terrorists. When the police officers investigate and take Rahul into custody, he tells his story and ends up back in Komban.

Terrified and once again surrounded by Durgesh’s sickle-wielding henchmen, Rahul pretends to take Meenamma hostage and escapes with her in Durgesh’s car, battling Durgesh’s men. When the car breaks down, Rahul and Meenamma quarrel and part ways. Rahul, not knowing which way to go, returns to Meenamma, who takes him to the Vidhamba village. Meenamma tells the villagers that they are a married couple who need protection and rest, to which the villagers agree.

Meenamma then realises that she has fallen in love with Rahul. When Rahul plans to sneak away, she argues, not wanting to earn the villagers’ distrust. Tangaballi catches Rahul as he tries to leave, but the villagers help them escape again. Meenamma persuades Rahul to disperse Bhishambhar’s ashes and travels with him to Rameswaram, where they complete the rites. On their way back, Rahul realises that he has fallen in love with Meenamma, and does not tell her where they are going. He takes Meenamma back to Durgesh and tries to make him understand and honour Meenamma’s wish. He also tells Meenamma that he loves her.

Rahul tells Tangaballi and his goons that he is ready for the fight this time. In the fight that follows, Rahul is severely injured but emerges victorious. Durgesh and Tangaballi reform, accepting that the love of a common man like Rahul is bigger than their physical ability and political influence. Durgesh allows Rahul to marry Meena. Rahul then leaves a message that love knows no regional or language barriers and that with a strong heart, there is no limit to what the common man can achieve (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

Where can you purchase corned wildebeest in Chennai?  At the Gnu Deli of course…

Second, a Song:

The score of Chennai Express was composed by Amar Mohile; the songs were composed by the duo Vishal-Shekhar, and the lyrics were written by Amitabh Bhattacharya and Yo Yo Honey Singh. Recording of the songs began in late October 2012. The track “Ready Steady Po” was recorded in November 2012 by the music’s composers. Several sources said that the director and actor were unsatisfied with the score. The director was reportedly asked to plan for a different musical composition. However, the composers denied these rumours. In mid-April 2013, singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam recorded the title track for the film, marking his return to Bollywood for playback after an absence of fifteen years. He said the song celebrated the spirit of togetherness. Initially, Balasubrahmanyam was apprehensive, but chose to sing due to the content and leads of the film. The song “1 2 3 4 get on the dance floor” was released as a promotional single on World Music Day. On 27 June 2013, the video promo of the song “Titli” was released, and on 11 July 2013, the promo video of “Kashmir Main Tu Kanyakumari” was released. On 19 July 2013, T-Series uploaded a song to its official channel on YouTube; sung by Honey Singh. The song was titled “Lungi Dance – The ‘Thalaivar(r)’ Tribute” in honour of the film actor Rajinikanth. On 25 July 2013, a promotional video of the song “Tera Rasta Main Chhodoon Na” was released. The music album was launched on 1 July 2013 (per Wikipedia).

Here is the song “Titli” set to scenes from Chennai Express with english subtitles.  I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“Success is not a good teacher, failure makes you humble.” – Shah Rukh Khan

Further to the Twist Smile, Russ Waugh of Siglavik, Manitoba, Canada writes:

“The twist brings back many memories to those (like me) that were not very good dancers, because they could get along on the dance floor without having much rhythm and being noticed.  Also Einstein’s driver was very smart in knowing his limitations and passing the question on to his boss Einstein.”

Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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