Shah Rukh Khan and Rohit Shetty had originally planned to team up for a remake of the 1982 film Angoor. After Singham,Rohit Shetty had begun writing the script of the film but left it mid-way. Incidentally, he had the script of Chennai Express ready to be narrated to Shah Rukh as a back-up due to the difficulty of obtaining the actor's filming dates.[9] Upon being narrated the script, Shah Rukh was impressed with the idea of Chennai Express and agreed to star in it before the Angoorremake. With this development, the remake of Angoor was pushed back.
When Rohit was asked about the story of the film, he said, "It's a hard-core commercial film with a romantic angle. The story is about this man's travel from Mumbai to Rameshwaram and what happens during the journey."[10]


Shah Rukh Khan was the first actor to be approached with the script, and hence the first lead actor to be signed on to the film. Incidentally, Rohit stated that despite the title, Shah Rukh would not play the role of a South Indian in the film. The casting of the lead heroine was speculated for a good deal of time. Names such as Kareena KapoorAsin Thottumkal and Deepika Padukone were rumored by the media.[11] In an interview, a visibly angry Shetty denied all rumors surrounding the leading heroine, stating that the cast would be finalized in April 2012 and that he was going to cast an established actress as the leading lady.[12] However, in August it was officially announced that Deepika Padukone had been signed to play the lead opposite Shah Rukh Khan.This would be her second film with Shah Rukh Khan oposite whom she made her Bollywood debut with in 2007 Blockbuster Om Shanti Om[13] Principal photography began on 27 September 2012 and shooting started soon afterwards. Rohit Shetty wanted Manorama to play Deepika Padukone's aunt.[14] Sathyaraj was later cast to play the role of Deepika's father and the main antagonist of Chennai Express.[15]Actress Priyamaniwas signed in late January 2013 for an item number in the film.[16]


The filming began at Mehboob Studio in Mumbai on 5 October 2012 . The lead actor was dressed in black casuals and the actress in a South Indian attire, wearing Kanjeevaram saree.[17]Filming was done at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station with minimum crew members. These working stills of the lead actor were unofficially released in mid-October 2012.[18]In November 2012, the cast and crew was off to Goa for the first filming schedule.[19] The railway station of Vasco da Gama was used as a double up, portraying Kalyan. A romantic scene on board a train passing next to Dudhsagar Falls was also shot.[20]In December 2012, the team was off to Jakarta for some scenes.[21]By early January 2013, the next schedule was supposed to happen in Ooty but Khan opined that the opted place would be too far from commercial venue, Mumbai. Hence, recreation of the lanes of Ooty along with some of its tourist spots, was constructed as a set on the outskirts of Panchgani in Wai by art director Narendra Ruharikar. It took over 40 days to make the set at an estimated cost of INR1.5 crore (US$260,000).[22][23] The Wai schedule of filming ran for entire month of March 2013.[24]A 10-day shooting schedule began in MunnarKerala from mid of April 2013, scenes were canned at Devikulam LakeMeesapulimala, Wagavara and Kannimala.[25] The shoot had to be stopped for a few days due to the heavy rainfall and the schedule was slightly extended until end of the same month.[26] A press conference was also held in the town Munnar.[27]In May 2013, certain scenes were canned in North Goa[28][29] The lead actress wrapped up all her portions of shoot on May 25, 2013.[30]Khan flew to Hyderabad by end of May 2013 for remaining filming .[31]


The first look of Chennai Express was revealed on January 1, 2013.[32] A thirty-one seconds title track teaser sung by S. P. Balasubrahmanyam was released on 23 May 2013.[33] The official trailer of the film was released at an event in Mumbai on 13 June 2013.[6]


The music and background score of the film is composed by the duo Vishal-Shekhar. Recording of the songs began in late October 2012. A track attributed as "insane" by the music composers was recorded in November 2012.[34]Several sources claimed that the director and actor were unsatisfied with the score of the film and hence the former were reported to rework entirely.[35]However, the composers denied all such rumors.[36]In mid-April 2013, singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam recorded the title track for the film, marking his return to Bollywood for playback post fifteen years. He claimed the song celebrates the spirit of togetherness. Initially, the singer was apprehensive about the lyrics written by Amitabh Bhattacharya but opted to sing considering the content and leads of the film.[33]


Shah Rukh Khan starrer Chennai Express and Akshay Kumar starrer Once Upon a Time In Mumbaai Dobara have been abandoned by Pakistani distributors and exhibitors in the interest of four of their films releasing on the same day.[37] During its Wai schedule of filming, the film's unit ran in trouble for over use of water from Dhom Dam in drought-hit Satara district of Maharashtra. The state's Relief and Rehabilitation minister Patangrao Kadam raised his concern for the same.[38]

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