'Chennai Express' slammed by critics, loved by audiences

New Delhi, Aug 13 (IANS) When the content is good, a film works despite bad reviews. "Chennai Express" is the best example of this. Defying critics, replete with witty dialogues, an entertaining story and Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone's never-seen-before-kind-of-avatars, the romantic comedy zoomed at superfast speed at the box office to earn Rs.100 crore in the first weekend itself - and is headed to rake in much more moolah.

Before the release, the 47-year-old superstar had described it as a family entertainer and true to this, all the family members can thoroughly enjoy it together, thanks to its clean content.

"Kya gadar film banai hai," said a 10-year-old during the course of the movie at the capital's Rivoli theatre.

Gaurav Verma, director, India Theatrical Distribution, Studios, Disney UTV, said

"Chennai Express" has shown an amazing sustenance post its record opening Friday.

"The film maintained it on the second and the third day, which shows how well it is being accepted and loved by the audiences. This is the only reason why it has successfully created a new benchmark at the box office and will continue to do so," Verma said in a statement.

The film was crucial to Shah Rukh as his last few releases like "Ra.One" and "Jab Tak Hai Jaan" failed to live up to the expectations of the viewers as well as the distributors.

However, Rohit Shetty seems to have bailed out Shah Rukh by giving him a makeover in "Chennai Express", which also marks coming of age of Deepika, who has hit the bull's eye with her performance as a Tamil speaking girl.

"Chennai Express" hit over 3,500 screens in the country and about 800 screens abroad, including seven unconventional markets - Peru, Morocco, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France and Israel.

The action comedy, made at a budget of Rs.70 crore, earned Rs. 6.75 crore from Thursday previews in India and on opening day, Aug 9, Rs.33.12 crore. The movie, produced by Red Chillies Entertainment and UTV Motion Pictures, pulled in Rs.28.05 crore on Saturday and Rs. 32.50 crore on Sunday. The total amounted to Rs. 100.42 crore net in India.

As always, Shah Rukh Khan didn't leave any stone unturned to promote the film despite health issues.

From appearances on TV shows to launching a game prior to the movie's release, the makers of "Chennai Express" did everything to hammer it into everyone's mind. And this has paid rich dividends.

The film didn't get rave reviews from the critics, who panned it saying it is a "big, fat bore" and "a slog". But Shetty, who has directed hit films like "Singham" and the "Golmaal" series, was unperturbed as bad reviews are his lucky charm and it has turned out to be true in this case as well.

Karthik Kumar, a film blogger, told IANS: "It's an archetypal Rohit Shetty film with lots of fun. You can't expect his films to pique your intellect, can you? It's for the masses and I'm sure they are loving it."

Apart from criticism, there were other hurdles.

The Chitrapat Sena, the film wing of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, threatened to disrupt and stop its release as it reportedly attempted to remove ongoing popular Marathi movies from single-screen cinemas in the state.

But criticism and hurdles notwithstanding, "Chennai Express" is racing ahead at the box office and restrengthening Shah Rukh's position, which got a blow after the debacle of his last few films.

Now "Chennai Express" seems to be on the road to create history.

Sowmya Iyer, a fan of Shah Rukh, said: "I think it's superb movie, which for the first time the director has attempted to make a fusion movie of Tamil and Hindi. It is full of comedy, emotion which we love. Hats off to SRK and Rohit shetty."

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