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Madras Cafe | Bollywood Movie | Hindi Film Reviews

Madras Cafe is a political and action thriller. We must say John Abraham as a producer chooses the subject which are satisfactory to him. His debut as a producer – Vicky Donner is the proof of the same. Now with Madras Cafe he touches the untouched topic of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi (the former prime minister of India), the problems between Tamin and Sinhali’s in Shri Lanka which lead to a lot of brutal incidents. Then India’s intervene in Shri Lanka via the Peace Force. Of course the movie is a work of fiction and it nowhere claims to show the historical events as is. Let us take a look at the content and other aspects of this film.

Movie : Madras Cafe
Director :
Shoojit Sircar
Produced by : John Abraham, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, Ronnie Lahiri
Written by : , , (dialogue)
Music By : Shantanu Moitra
Distributed by : Viacom 18 Motion Pictures
Studio : JA Entertainment, Rising Sun Films
Cinematography : Kamaljeet Negi
Editor : Chandrashekhar Prajapati
Released On :
Starring : John Abraham, Nargis Fakhri, Rashi Khanna, Siddharth Basu, Prakash Belawadi, Ajay Rathnam, Tinu Menachery, Agnello Dias, Piyush Pandey, Dibang, Leena Maria Paul, and others…

Shoojit Sircar brought the script to John a long ago. But he was not able to make a film on that topic at that time. Though they teamed up and gave Vicky Donner together. After the commercial success of Vicky Donner and updated schedules of John made it possible to work on the script which was put aside in past and here we got the film – Madras Cafe.

The movie was earlier named as Jaffna as it is the key point for the guerrilla wars between LTF (fictional group of rebels) and Indian Peace Force (and of course, the Shri Lankan army).

The movie represents some facts correctly like;

  • In every war, the innocent citizens suffer the most.
  • One man’s rebel is another man’s terrorist.
  • In the internal wars, usually there are no pure white and black sides. There are grey shades everywhere.

The director weaved the entire plot very convincingly. Though we must think that there was a need of intelligent and better writing to make the movie way better. But, it is a good product as a whole nonetheless. There are a very few directors who touch something different than the traditional way to make a commercially successful movie in Bollywood. Prakash Jha for example is one of them.His movie like “Aarakshan“, Satyagraha, Rajneeti and many more. We must appreciate Shoojit to choose the topic and John to stand on his ground to release the movie despite of all the controversies it was associated with.

It is very rare to see references to historical events or people (especially from recent past) in Indian movies and the chances that they would be opposed by some political parties or a group are move. There are definitely few movies where such references are seen clearly and loudly. It is often seen that now the makers started referring Pakistan, China and other countries in such references. The issues of the south India (or even north-east India) are overlooked by the makers who belong to mainly north and north-west part of the country. Shoojit touch such issues for the first time and he did justice to the same.

Let us not take a political take and rather not discuss about the controversy associated with the movie; we here are trying to take a look at the movie as a cinematic experience..

The footage from the past serves well in the movie. The background music is fantastic. There is no scope of romantic (or typical Bollywood) songs in the movie and director haven’t tried to forcefully add them to the movie. Which serves as a positive attribute for the movie. John Abraham is growing a lot as an actor. Like Sunil Shetty said in an interview that when he started his career he didn’t know much about acting and over the period of time, he learn it. We can see such improvement in John. He slips into the character effortlessly. See him with grown beard and all and you will be convinced with his body language too. This is another nice performance by him after Shootout At Wadala this year.

Nargis Fakri has a small role and she is convincing as the British reporter. Why the lady reporters seen smoking cigarettes in the film (like Hollywood)? Also, is it so easy to convince them to reveal their sources? Rashi have a small role as John’s wife, which she played gracefully. Prakash Belawadi is a scene stealer, his performance, his body language everything is very convincing as R&AW’s immediate boss to John during the operation. Siddhartha Basu is a good choice for the R&AW head Robin Dutta and he gave justice to the role. Ajay Rathnam is the perfect choice for the role of LTF chief. Overall most of the performances are up to the mark.

The casting is perfect and half of the battle is won by the director with that only. As the producer/director knew that the shooting is not possible on original locations in Shri Lanka, it is done in various areas of Tamil Nadu, Bangkok, Delhi and other places. The battle areas are prepared in Tamil Nadu. As several reporters have pointed out that the original locales have different geographical situations than shown in the film, but the film is the work of the fiction and we can give them that liberty. Some brutal killings with cold hearts are shown in the film effectively. Also some of the scenes in the first half of the movie are confusing, but the second half is more clear.

Also typical Bollywood movie audience may be disappointed by the conspiracy revealed. Also the director succeed in creating suspense over the few characters who could have been involved in the conspiracy. (Well, we are not telling much here – like – whether they are actually involved or not, in order to not to reveal the story suspense). Other good thing is the movie doesn’t have the baggage to show the solution of the situation at the end. See, what response John received after he submitted his final report? This is the real world and things happens like this in the real world.

Another good scene is when John’s wife worrying for his life, calls the R&AW officer and despite of all tensions running on, how the officer tries to calm her down and talking to her so calmly on the phone. Actually the family members of the patriots must be treated this way.

The assassins and their preparation is convincing. The script (as said earlier) could have been tight, it has some flows as well. But the positives are more than the downsides, which makes the movie worth watching. And again, the producer/director/writer/actors must be appreciated for choosing such a challenging, different kind of realistic fantasy film inspired by the untouched historical events. Such people must be given opportunity to make more such movies and rather then getting oppose from various parts of the society they should be supported.

We have almost discussed the story of the film but here it is in short.

As the political scenario is changed and the IPKF (Indian Peace Keep Force) has to be withdrawn from Jaffna. It is necessary to get to the root cause of the problem which make Jaffna vulnerable. And it is near to the southern border of India plus the Tamil people’s life is also in danger making them angry, makes the national security at stake. Virkam, an army intelligence officer is appointed by R&AW to conduct covert operations in Jaffna – ShriLanka. A British reporter Jaya Sahani is also going to Jaffna. Her aim is to uncover the truth behind this civil war. The situations are changed over the period of time and Vikram’s life put in danger due to a leak in the system. He was saved later by Indian armed forces though.

Later, some messages are traced which leads to a conspiracy of killing the former prime minister of India, who is in favor of complete peace, and for the same, he plan to intervene in ShriLanka with the IPKF again if necessary (and if he will be elected again). Who is behind the conspiracy? Rest of the answers lies in the movie.

It is a good cinematic experience. Thriller lovers will like the movie.

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