Chennai Express (/tʃɪˈnaɪ/ (About this soundlisten)) is a 2013 Indian Hindi-language action comedy film directed by Rohit Shetty from a story by K. Subash, with the screenplay written by Yunus Sajawal and the dialogues by Sajid-Farhad. Produced by Gauri Khan, Karim Morani, Ronnie Screwvala and Siddharth Roy Kapur, the film stars Shah Rukh Khan as Rahul Mithaiwala, a man who accidentally boards the eponymous train and journeys from Mumbai to Rameswaram, falling in love with the daughter of a local don, played by Deepika Padukone. Chennai Express had Nikitin Dheer and Sathyaraj play supporting roles. It was released with subtitles in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, German, Hebrew, Dutch, Turkish and Malay. The film was also dubbed in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam dub was released in Asianet channel.
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 acquired the distribution rights of the film.
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. As of March 2018, it is the eleventh-highest-grossing Bollywood film worldwide.
Rahul Mithaiwala is a 40-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.
Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) helps Meenamma (Deepika Padukone) board the train, a spoof of the famous train scene in the 1995 film Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
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 needs 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 add.
Deepika Padukone as Meenalochni “Meenamma” Azhagusundaram
Shah Rukh Khan as Rahul
Nikitin Dheer as Tangaballi (Meenamma’s fiancè)
Sathyaraj as Durgeshwara “Durgesh” Azhagusundaram (Meenamma’s father)
Mukesh Tiwari as Inspector Shamsher
Kamini Kaushal as Neetu Bhishambhar Mithaiwala (Rahul’s grandmother)
Puvisha Manoharan as Radhika “Radha” Azhagusundaram (Meenamma’s cousin)
Lekh Tandon as Bhishambhar Mithaiwala (Rahul’s grandfather)
Manu Malik as Baman (Rahul’s friend)
Rakesh Kukreti as Bobby (Rahul’s friend)
Mohan Raman as Village Priest
Yogi Babu as Sri Lankan smuggler
Jasper as Henchman
Besant Ravi as Henchman “Periya Anna”
King Kong as Passerby
Jimmy Moses as Truck Driver
Delhi Ganesh as Villager
Priyamani (item number “1 2 3 4 Get on the Dance Floor”)