Don’t Underestimate the Power of the Common Man
I was wondering what the best way to start off my new blog would be, and decided on a movie review. After all, you can’t ever really go wrong with a movie review, can you?
Last Tuesday I, my mother, and our friend Linda went and saw a new Sharukh Khan movie called Chennai Express.
I’ve seen my fair share of Indian movies. Bollywood is the epitome of drama, romantic issues, family problems, and wonderful dance scenes. I expected more of the same, given the cover. Boy was I in for a surprise.
It was a comedy.
No, you don’t understand. This is Sharukh Khan. From Kal Ho Na Ho. The intense drama romance where he plays a man in love with a woman, but he’s dying so he sets up the gal with his friend who he believes will love her. Spoiler–he DIES at the end. Outside of her HOUSE!
So no, comedy was not what I was expecting. It was a new, strange, yet welcome side to India’s iconic actor.
Here’s a quick rundown of this movie:
Rahul (Shahrukh Khan) is a candy walla (meaning he sells candy in a sweets shop. But not candy like those who don’t live in Asia would suspect-sweets like Gulab Jamun and things like that). His entire family, nearly, has passed by now, he has no wife and apparently also no social life. His Grandfather, who has lived forever, dies suddenly. Cue burning the body and an epic adventure filled with lies to edlerly, now widowed, grandmothers, getting and staying on the wrong train (CHENNAIAIAIAIAIAIAIAIAI CHENNAIAIAIAI EXPRESS (as the musical number that accompanied every mention of Chennai express said it)), Indian Godfathers (yes, South India does have its own gangster community–not kidding), complete with their unwilling daughter being married off to a large, deep-voice man that often wore black, and, of course, a 35,000 rupee phone that gets promptly tossed to the side of the road off a train so that no one (meaning Rahul’s friends who are eagerly waiting for him so they can go on a most likely unethical romp through Goa) can contact him.
There are multiple musical numbers, beautiful dancing, an epic fight scene where Rahul probably dies 4-6 times and then miraculously beats earlier-said large, deep-voiced man meant to marry the daughter of the Godfather, and, of course, Rahul is still carrying his grandfather’s ashes because he has yet to dump them in his Grandfather’s namesake’s beach-ocean.
The entire thing was in Hindi, but the three of us managed to understand the gist of it all and might I say that it was quite the thrilling adventure and not at all and simultaneously exactly what I expected. It was hilarious, for one, with everything from near slap-stick humor to classic laugh-inducing comedy like Rahul adding in, at the perfect moment, “Meri dictionary mein impossible ka shabd hi nahee hay” Which roughly translates to “Impossible is not a word in my dictionary.” Classic, right? Also, the musicals. I would love to just show you all the wonderful musical scenes that were in this movie, but you would really just have to watch the movie to fully understand. Basically, there were the intimate scenes where it was just a few people singing to each other, the large groups where there must have been at least 100 extras, dolled up and dancing splendidly, and, my personal favorite, a few scenes where Rahul and Chutti (the Godfather’s daughter) were communicating to each other secretly in Hindi and disguising it as a song because her personal bodyguards didn’t know Hindi but would have been made suspicious by the two talking, yet they were perfectly fine with them randomly bursting out in song. It’s a thing here.
There was a line. You know, a line. A catch phrase of Khan’s. “Don’t underestimate the power of the common man!”
He said it a lot.
Basically, it was just a really fun movie that started out hilariously silly, got deeper towards the second middle, and then ended in an epic fight scene filled with fake blood, crushed bangles, and a declaration of love. What more could you ask for?
But I couldn’t leave without adding just a little bit about the ending dance scene. During the credits, they had a musical number. It was hilarious. Just…I can’t even explain. A loongi is basically a skirt where the wearer takes the back bottom of it and brings it up through their legs to the front and rolls it into the waist area. It’s for both male and females, but it worn primarily by males. This does have a purpose. That being that the song was about loongis. Seriously, it was hilarious. My mom and I were laughing our faces off the entire thing.
I would suggest it to everyone. If you are not Indian or don’t understand Hindi, get a copy with subtitles. Also, if you are incapable of enjoying Indian comedy or have never been subjected to it before I would start with something easier, like Jab We Met–a classic Indian Comedy that will ease you into Bollywood.
Just a quick note: The rickshaw ride to the cinema was long and filled with honking, as well as hot, and for some reason they don’t AC the cinema. There was an elderly couple sitting to the right of us and a youngerly couple sitting to the left. They all spoke Hindi and I’m pretty sure they think we’re insane because we laughed at all the wrong parts.
Anyway, I’ll let you go now. This has gone on far too long.