There has been immense hullabaloo about how mesmerizing the box office collections of Chennai Express are. While a section of the audiences are celebrating the triumph of their favorite star’s box office victory, the intelligentsia has been mourning the celebration of moronic film replete in gags. I had maintained the safe way out by deciding to abandon my brains just before I entered the theater to watch Chennai Express and I managed to scrape out with a passable entertaining time. However, the ‘hate’ comments of our loyal readers haven’t stopped coming in ever since. And with Chennai Express surpassing the box office records created by 3 Idiots, the looming question remains – do good content films get their due value from box office?

Let’s direct our attention to the much touted 100 crore club of box office. With 22 films in the club, there is a real dearth of impressive concepts in the club that epitomizes success of films. What exactly is a successful film – a content rich, refreshing film that is hard to forget or a blunder like Aashiqui 2 which dishes out the same old wine in a new bottle? The reason why I cared to mention Aashiqui 2 is because the film has recorded the highest profit this year, without entering the “100 crore club”. Personally, business prospects and cinematic aspects are distinctly different, cinema these days focus exceedingly on business rather than on content.

Chennai Express And 3 Idiots Movie Poster
Chennai Express And 3 Idiots Movie Poster

In many of my columns I’ve pointed out to the distinction between a thorough commercial film and decadent intelligent film. But it is only recently that the gulf between these films have become more apparent. I have been fed on the pedigree of Bollywood and respecting commercialism is inherently in me. As Neo realist pioneer of India, Satyajit Ray pointed out, “Film is the highest form of commercial art!” Bollywood has literally personified commercial cinema for years. Be it films like Sholay or Don, there is a visible presence of effervescent writing and refreshing ideas.

But the problem with commercial films these days is slack and stale writing that has nothing new to offer in terms of content. Stories more or less settle on similar plots and commercial films work mainly either for their stunts or their star value. Amongst the 22 entrants in the 100 crore club, 6 are either completely lifted or rehashed versions of South flicks – namely Singham, Ghajini, Son Of SardaarRowdy RathoreReadyBodyguard. While Race 2, Don 2Housefull 2 and Golmaal 3 are franchises which rely mostly on their successful predecessors to work into hits! Bol Bachchan and Agneepath are both remakes of old Hindi films which we might end up watching simply for the nostalgic feel. And in the end, there are those films which work mostly because of its star value. Be it Yash Chopra’s last film Jab Tak Hai Jaan or old flames coming back together in Ek Tha Tiger or Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, the reason why these films worked despite the lack of a fresh script is simply because of star value and sleek direction.

There are rather few films in the 100 crore list which really have made a place on the basis strong plot. Anurag Basu’s Barfi!, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Bhaag Milha Bhaag and mostly Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots have claimed the place more for the plot of their films and less for the star value of it.

Even if Chennai Express has managed to surpass the box office numbers of 3 Idiots, it is indeed not a cue for people to thrash 3 Idiots saying how Aamir Khan is a lesser star than Shah Rukh Khan. Though hero-worship is quite a trend in our industry, it would be better if script looms as the hero in the larger picture of cinema. And as for box office numbers, they have never been indicative of good films.

The most celebrated films of Bollywood have been underrated at box office. In the end, it is the films that linger on in our memories. Chennai Express might rake up way more than 3 Idiots in the domestic circuit, but when one has to name the most memorable films of the decade, it wouldn’t even stand a chance. Human brain is thus, in the long run it manages to dissipate the fragile and remember the strong. When it comes to cinema, the best of films are the only ones that sustain over the content drained, quick hefty earners, that fail to carve a place!

I am not ashamed to say that a 3 Idiots or a Barfi or even a Bhaag Milkha Bhaag will establish itself in my memory far more strongly than the flimsy likes of Chennai Express or Ek Tha Tiger, which I’ve already forgotten. And for our readers, box office numbers are not slaps on critics. In the words of LA Times’ critic Kenneth Turan, “Critics are not meant to be applause meters! Everyone goes there, it must be the best theory doesn’t apply to films at all. We judge on variant criteria than audiences, that’s our job!”

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  1. All SRK haters were trashing the film saying it was cr@p and insulting their intelligence. One does not become an intellectual by simply ridiculing Chennai Express. No one forced them to go and watch the film. The film would not have sustained so well at the box office had it been really bad and rejected. Chennai Express was never promoted as anything but a full family entertainer. All those who are saying that CE is no 3 Idiots are right. I agree CE is no 3 Idiots. But SRK never said he was making an award-winning film or anything. The film guarantees nothing but clean entertainment for the whole family for two-and-a-half hours. Why were free tickets given out on Raksha Bandhan if SRK only wanted to make money? He wanted everyone to enjoy the film with their family. SRK himself said that if he just wanted to make money he could easily start a new business venture and make more money than he makes in Bollywood. Cinema is just entertainment, nothing more and nothing less. No one looks for logic in real life. But everyone wants logic in cinema. What irony

  2. writer is actually a fool. He needs to know for Indians, masala films are films with best content. And at last dont compare Indian films with boring american films because every cinema has its own identity.

  3. these days this big stars acts like Frog … SRK, Salman, Akshay etc….
    nd nothing wrong in that because they knew that people will accept them anyway
    u named about Barfi, BMB nd 3 Idiots
    but movies like Vicky Donor, Kahaani deserves better than they did
    nd also u mentioned about remakes but i feel nothing wrong about it, if movie is gonna better than classic one
    yeah many of us agreed on it that Hrithik’s Agneepath is far better than Amit Ji’s old 1
    i like to add movies like Bol Bachan, G3, Ready also had entertainment package in it, people wants it..they also want to refresh themselves…… one cannot handle serious cinema for too long

  4. Mr. Mohar Basu (author of the above article) Review about Chennai Express – which was published on 8th Aug’2013
    His Rating for CE – 3 Stars
    What’s Good: There is a clever humor, a few really genuine laughs and a man whose charm doesn’t wear out – SRK.
    Loo break: NONE

    Clever humor..genuine laughs loo break….Sir you expressed true feeling towards the Movie on the first day.

    My Question to you ..???
    What has changed now. Why its so difficult to accept things and keep your stand.

  5. the only thing that SRK haters are masters in is DOUBLE STANDARD game, when SRK delivers a Blockbuster movie like OSO..RNBDJ or CE they start talking about QUALITY and CLASS but when he gives GOOD films and when the quality is there be it MNIK DON2 or SWADES they neglect all this and start joking how SRK has no more STARPOWER bla bla..
    But when their favorite stars gave films like SIK; DHOOM2; FANAA; RAWDY DABANG; ETT.. etc they seem not care about content at all, all what counts for them is celebrating their favorite star’s STARPOWER but when qualitative films like TZP LAAGAN RDB SPECIAL CHABBIS etc happen fans start celebrating the ability of their stars of giving memorable films and the B.O game is no more important..yeah i know SRK fans do the same (talking about quality in case of SWADES MNIK…) and only B.O in case of (OSO; CE) but we haven’t seen SRK fans writing this kind of article crying for a bad film that broke records.. DHOOM2; GHAJINI; ETT etc all broke records but no one cried over that! the same story will repeat itself with films like KRRISH and DHOOM3..Aamir and Hrithik fans already preparing their party and the rules are: quality be damned and BO is the king!

  6. this is what all of us know but it’s hard to digest as fans. none of these 100 cr movies can hold a candle to 3 idiots except for barfi.

  7. The dead bodies of a dabangg tiger, a besharam bunny, a rowdy khiladi and three idiots were found on the railway tracks. Cops say they were all run over by Chennai Express train.

  8. Apart from Chatur’s speech,i don’t remember anything..from that movie…but films like SWADES,DDLJ,CHAK DE,MNIK remains in our heart forever..i mention all SRK movies coz u compared it to CE..nd as far as CE is was full on entertaining movie..which can be seen many times,without getting bored,nd my list of movies which can b seen any times are:all those which i mentioned above ,golmaal,krrish,wanted,kkhh,khnh,rnbdj,oso,phir hera pehri , hera pehri,kabhi ha kabhi na nd baadshah…!! nd BMB is very much better than 3idiots…for me 3idiots is very much overrated movie,audiences liked it coz it was based on engg students life nd nothin else

  9. The article shows just what the mind of the writer says. Please keep in mind that chennai express has done the business of 214 cr+ which means that it has repetitive value. People accepted it, owned it thus it will be remembered. Secondly the writer is bound to remember this movie atleast for sometime as it is a fastest grosser and biggest grosser as well. Comparisons in future will be done taking into regard the standard of business that this movie has created. This article is biased and against the verdict of Janta who have loved Chennai Express

    • No u coward fans
      digest the fact that it is not a film that has over others
      it has done a business because of hiking ticket prices + doubled even third times more theaters nd screens
      dude according to situation it should be over 600+ right ??