Movie Review: Madras Cafe

First of all, a standing ovation for John Abraham. No, he has not matured as an actor over night. In my personal opinion, it is too much to expect from him even at this stage in his career. At this point of time, John Abraham has become a sensible producer who is willing to invest on a well written script, believing there are audience out there who will put money to see a well made movie devoid of melodrama. which makes them pause and think. Moreover, we are all aware about the strong arm techniques before the release of this movie. John, as one of the producers, didn't back down under pressure. At the end of the movie, Major Vikram Singh, the character played by John Abraham, says which is in fact a fitting reply to all the detractors. The message sums up as follows. A revolutionary for some is a terrorist for others...whatever be it, I lost my prime minister.

Then you should applaud the real heroes of the movie, the director Shoojit Sircar and the writers, Somnath Dey, Shubendu Bhattacharya and Juhi Chaturvedi. Shoojit Sircar had earlier directed the immensely likeable comedy Vicky Donor last year. From comedy, this is a giant leap. Moreover, thrillers are a genre which has never been effectively explored in Hindi movies. With this movie, Shoojit not only proves he can handle movie with varying canvases but also effortlessly switch genres. While doing so, he also give Hindi movies a thriller which all of us can be proud of. The perfect recipe for a thriller is weaving a story, inspired by newspaper articles and imagination. This is where the writers comes into play. They have focused on the Sri Lankan civil war, Indian intervention and subsequent assassination of a former prime minister. The names of people and organization are different. To that matter, even the shoes worn by the former prime minister is different. But veils are so thin that you can easily figure out who and what is being referred to.

Through an efficient use of background music, photography, editing and locations, Shoojit Sircar and his team glues us to our seats eagerly waiting for the next scene. Although the director and his team has not used real locations, they have found suitable locations elsewhere in the world. The pathos and the wastefulness of the war driven areas are poignantly captured using black and white still photography. I am not sure if there are real war photographs or not. But it is impossible for us to be detached while seeing those on the screen. The first half of the movie is the build up to the conspiracy and the second half is the conspiracy. Despite knowing the outcome, we are still hooked to the proceedings mainly because of the impotency we feel. To assassinate a political figure is no ordinary matter. This means the conspiracy takes part in different part of the world. The director, the producer and the writers do not compromise in shifting locations across different parts of the world. This is one movie which may not be shot in multiple locations but the story constantly shifts between Jaffna and other parts of Sri Lanka, New Delhi, Cochin, Chennai(or was it Madras then?) and coastal Tamil Nadu, Singapore, Bangkok and London. You better be attentive while watching the movie.

The movie unfolds as a voice over of Major Vikram Singh narrating the events from a few years before the assassination. This in fact works for John Abraham. He isn't bad in this movie as an actor. At the same time, he isn't great either. The voice over mostly helps in covering up his act. As for the performances, there are two people who stands out. Siddharth Basu surprises us with his no-nonsense portrayal of RAW chief Robin Dutt. Be it advising the superior about "the island" or inspring Vikram to forget the tragedy in his life, he is the RAW chief we would love to see and hope to have. Check out how he effortlessly cuts an apple for Vikram while discussing the political situation when the latter is recovering in the safe house. The feather in his crown is the scene when he tries hard to control his feelings while telling his wife he tried everything to save the ex-PM. That is the good guy. To balance the good guy, we need a bad guy. That is Bala played by Prakash Belawadi. Heading the operations in Sri Lanka and opposing Vikram in many ways, Prakash's Bala spits venom with his dialogue delivery and mannerisms. The way he accuses Vikram of going behind his back and also gets angry at his wife in Malayalam are the two scenes which Prakash Belawadi displays his calibre.

I am not an expert on current affairs. But I know a great deal about good cinema. This is definitely one. And you know what my recommendation is. Don't wait for the DVD. Go see it today itself on the big screen.

Language: Hindi

Genre: Thriller

Rating: ****



  1. I would have been a little harsh and would give it a 3 star rating instead of 4. Still, tot agree with most of the other points. Watch this movie for the director esteem hard-work.

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  2. Yup I saw this movie...If you ask me, honestly I think 3 things that made this movie worked-
    1. Shoojit Sircar
    2) Cinematography
    3) Dialogues

    1. All the above factors played a major role. So did the script. Once you have the script worked out, it is easier to translate it. The director was good. Otherwise, a movie with such a large canvas and shifting locations would have fallen flat.

      All the above factors would not happened if there was not a producer who was willing to invest in this risky venture. Risky because this is the first of the kind in Hindi cinema. That is why I ask you to give a standing ovation for JA (one of the producers) :)


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