A super-duper hit from superstar Shah Rukh Khan is long overdue, says the industry. Though his magnetic personality pulls in fans for each of his films, they were not enough to make his last few films blockbusters. Now trade pundits are hoping that "Chennai Express" would taste box-office success and boost King Khan's fluctuating fortunes.
Shah Rukh has pulled out all stops to make this one a hit - from onground promotions across states, special appearances on the small screen, having the film's music played in restrooms of multiplexes and releasing it on an occasion as holy as Eid on Friday - King Khan has steered "Chennai Express" around all the right quarters.
In the recent past, the 47-year-old has showcased a variety in his roles - if he played a fictional version of himself in "Billu Barber", he portrayed Rizwan Khan, a character suffering from Asperger syndrome in "My Name Is Khan" with vengeance. His "Ra.One", one of the most expensive movies made in the country, gave SRK a superhero avatar, while "Don 2: The Chase Continues" brought him back as the villain, and "Jab Tak Hai Jaan" gave a window to his most-loved romantic streak.
"My Name Is Khan" fared better internationally. SRK himself admitted he could have done better with "Ra.One". And the fizz for "Jab Tak Hai Jaan" died soon after it was released.
Such lulls are not new in the Bollywood badshah's over two-decade-old career. Remember how post-"Main Hoon Na", his films "Swades", "Veer Zaara" and "Paheli(2005)" won critical acclaim, but failed to elicit an overwhelming response at the box office?
Then 2006 release "Don" punched out the bad phase with its tremendous business, followed by two more blockbusters -"Om Shanti Om" and "Chak De India" in the following year.
More so, since it is only Farhan Akhtar-starrer "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" which has been holding the fort at the cash registers since four weeks now. Smaller films have come and gone, but the demand for "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag", a biopic on ace athlete Milkha Singh, has been pacing ahead, crossing the Rs. 100 crore mark on Bollywood's racing track.
"Chennai Express", with its huge marketing campaigns and tie-ups, heavy duty promotions, eclectic catchy music, as well as a grand release of over 3,500 screens in the country and 700 screens abroad, is expected to outshine "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag". It is also being dubbed in nine languages - English, French, Spanish, Arabic, German, Hebrew, Dutch, Turkish and Malay.
" 'Chennai Express' is a commercial entertainer and has an obvious and enormous demand overseas with Deepika Padukone's and Shah Rukh Khan's fan base," says Amrita Pandey, executive director, International Distribution Studios, Disney UTV.
Nine months after failing to impress his fans with his true-romantic avatar in "Jab Tak Hai Jaan", SRK has taken the commercial action-comedy genre route, which is usually the trademark of his arch rival Salman Khan.
"'Chennai Express' is a comedy film with a love story, but it's definitely not like 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' or 'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. It's a family entertainer. There's a little action too," SRK stated recently.
Will "Chennai Express" chug away to success with all its steam?