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'Chennai Express' Breaks Bollywood Opening Weekend Box Office Record, Why World's Biggest Movie Star Is Shah Rukh Khan

by Anne Thompson and David Chute
August 12, 2013 3:09 PM
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'Chennai Express'
'Chennai Express'

Hardcore Bollywood fans have to work hard to find new movies when they open in the U.S. They tend to be press-screened in New York, not L.A., and the faithful have to track down the neighborhood theaters that play them--whether in Culver City, Covina or Artesia. The movies are often three hours long, so a Chai break at intermission is always welcome. You never know whether you're going to get a winner. You can usually count on Aamir Khan ("Lagaan," 2001), who works at the top of the Bollywood pyramid, but you take your chances with just about everyone else. 

UTV Motion Pictures' romantic action comedy "Chennai Express" broke all stateside Bollywood box office records last weekend with $2,225,000 in 196 locations and a huge $11,352 per screen average. The old record of $1,944,027 had been held since 2010 by "My Name is Khan," also starring Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan. "Chennai Express" also beat the five-day Christmas holiday weekend opening of $2,149,227 for 2009’s "3 Idiots," starring Aamir Khan, which holds the record for the largest lifetime gross for a Bollywood film with a cume of $6,533,849. (Review round up, Hey Guys video interview and trailer are below.) 

In "Chennai Express" (in Hindi and Tamil with English subtitles), Shah Rukh Khan plays a man who journeys to a small town in Tamil Nadu in order to fulfill the last wish of his grandfather to have his ashes immersed in the Holy water of Rameshwaram. En route, he meets and falls in love with a South Indian girl (Deepika Padukone); they embark on a series of adventures on the road. 

Called by the LA Times "the world's biggest movie star," Khan's fans number in the billions. In 2008, Newsweek named him one of the 50 most powerful people in the world. Born in Delhi in 1965 and raised there, SRK is now 47, a few years shy of the age achieved by the superstar of a previous generation, Amitabh Bachchan, in the early '90s, when he was eclipsed by the stars who were to rule the roost in the coming decades, the so-called Three Khans, Aamir, Salman and Shah Rukh. But SRK seems in no danger of being eclipsed in turn. An excellent actor and one of Bollywood's best dancers ever, he has been a major movie star continuously for twenty years, with an unbroken string of hits. 

Throughout his career Khan has been known for playing obstreperous sometimes crazy lovers in such romantic vehicles as "Dil To Pagal Hai" ("The Heart is Crazy," 1997), "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" ("Some Things Just Happen," 1998), "Kal Ho Naa Ho" ("Tomorrow May Not Come," 2003) and "Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi" ("A Match Made By God," 2008). But he has also made a point of taking strong dramatic roles in films such as "Devdas" (2002) and "My Name is Khan" (2010). In two of the biggest recent hits he returned to his anti-hero roots playing an elusive and glamorous gangster in Farhan Akhtar's highly successful remake of one of Bachchan's biggest hits of the '70s, "Don: The Chase Begins Again" (2006) and its sequel "Don 2: The Chase Continues" (2011), the latter in 3-D.

"Chennai Express" marks a departure for Shah Rukh Khan. He's working for the first time with relatively new director Rohhit Shetty, who is the only current Bollywood film director to direct three films in a row that grossed 100 crore rupees ($23,000,000.00): "Golmaal 3" (2010), "Singham" ("Lion, 2011) and "Bol Bachchan" (2012). "Golmaal" ("Fishy," 2006) and its two sequels are fast-paced and colorful slapstick action comedies that are anything but subtle (every sight gag is punctuated with a boing/splat sound effect). "Singham" had less comedy and more head-banging action, in the slow-mo/bullet time style of regional South India Tamil Tamil and Malayalam films. 

Hollywood could learn from Bollywood. Kahn told The Guardian what Bollywood movies have going for them:

Right from my very first film and all of the films I've grown up watching, it's always had a little bit of everything. It's had romance, colour, it's had action, song and has had dance. And I think that's what makes our films so universally appealing. A five-year old can watch it, and an elderly person can watch it. You can watch it with your family, and you can watch it with your loved one. I mean I don't know any other way, this is how it's always been.


  • Linda J. Smiley | March 18, 2014 8:21 AMReply

    nice movie. record breaking. 2nd movie of 200 club. love this

    Movies Review 2014

  • nitesh jangid | September 16, 2013 6:09 AMReply

    Hey friends
    USSEY KYA HO JAYEGA is a upcoming movie presents by MANNSA PRODUCTIONSnitesh jangid

  • Deon Narine | August 20, 2013 8:33 AMReply

    Chennai Express is the biggest block buster movie in bollywoods ever.

  • Roseph | August 17, 2013 5:36 AMReply

    While browsing, I came across your posting and found it informative one. The movie 'Chennai Express' has done a great business. Now the question is: does the movie truly deserve that or it's only due to SRK popularity? What is the main reason behind it?
    Visit: for more new movie trailer online.

  • Has2BFilmy | August 17, 2013 3:55 AMReply

    This site seems to be interesting and as a big Bollywood portal, we get you some interesting stuff on the same. Here's the link and we would like to know the feedback:

  • rakin khan | August 13, 2013 2:08 AMReply

    srk is the king of bollywood and hollywood. No one can beat him. Srks CE will cross 300cr in domestic and 150 cr in overseas.

  • sasa | August 22, 2013 6:30 AM

    Teri maa ki Choot.. king of hollywood.. my ass

  • ramesh | August 13, 2013 2:35 AM


  • Ramesh | August 12, 2013 6:38 PMReply


    Stop hyperbolizing Bollywood films! It is stereotyping in another form.

  • Ramesh | August 12, 2013 7:05 PM

    Hooray for Bollywood!!!!
    Three cheers for indian Cinema!!!
    Sivaji is the COOLEST MOVIE IN THE WORLD!!!!
    SHAHRUKH Khan is a better fifty year old global mega star than brad PITTT!!!!!
    Aishwarya rai is the prettiest woman in the world!!!!!! (and we needed julai roberts to tell us that)

    We are great publicists for bollywood! (we can be found at hollywood and vine if you got the publicity budget!!!!)

    We are next set to promote nigerian billionaires who may or not have a 25 million bank account in your name!!!!!

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