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India aboard the Badshah Express

The Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Chennai Express has already earned several monikers, such as Record Express, Badshah Express among others, thanks to its leaving behind an unprecedented number of previous watersheds. For example, it’s the fastest Rs 100 crore grosser, highest first week grosser and even the highest grosser in our celluloid-loving and missile-flaunting western neighbour, Pakistan. But the icing on the proverbial cake that is its stupendously staggering box office success is that it is indeed the highest grossing film in the history of Indian cinema, outpacing the earlier record-holder, Aamir Khan’s 3 Idiots. The Rohit Shetty-directed SRK venture has crossed the Rs 200-crore mark in its second week itself and is all set to establish a very high benchmark for the rest of the Bollywood cohorts to live up to. But the mind does wonder what on earth the Indian audience finds in the formulaic undertaking that is Chennai Express? Also, the mind boggles when Shah Rukh Khan declares that he’s an entertainer, not much of an actor, and still our millions throng to watch him jump around trains and fight off comic strip villains with enormous moustaches because they hail from a vaguely fuzzy (for the North Indian hero) place called South India.

Film critics have often likened the proclivity towards junk food with a taste for Bollywood, particularly the ‘masala brigade’, which usually happen to be the big box office grosser. The consumption of cinema, just like street-side food dripping with oil, can be addictive, stardom and brand loyalties notwithstanding. So while the Aamir Khan fans have rough nights staying up and scheming projects that could earn back for the ‘thinking actor’ the top spot in the art mart and bad boy Salman Khan just has his innumerable brushes with law and female co-stars, Shah Rukh Khan, like a great gambler showing off his recovered box office ‘mojo’, sits back and sees the madding crowd lapping up with gusto his latest offering. Predilection for junk food aside, when the gods of cinema are as sinfully delicious as Shah Rukh, Amitabh or Rajnikanth, who really cares for nutrition or realism?              

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