Madras Cafe – Movie Review

27 Aug

Madras Café – a film based on the Sri Lankan civil war; a topic film-makers have hitherto never bothered to venture into. This very backdrop is what makes this film different.

The story is narrated by intelligence officer, Vikram (John Abraham) who has been posted to Jaffna, the melting point of the conflict between the local Lankans and the Tamils. The Indian peacekeeping troops have intervened to minimize further damage, but this effort is met with resistance by Anna, who is the LTF (modeled on Prabhakaran of the LTTE) who is fighting for the cause of the ethnic Tamils in his own. With the help of a British journalist – Jaya (Nargis Fakhri), Vikram smells a conspiracy to assassinate the ex-Prime Minister of India. And to make it worse, he suspects a intelligence failure or a leak within his own team. How Vikram deals with the situation and fights the system is what Madras Café is all about.

Madras Café deserves a round of applause due to various reasons – First, for the film-makers for daring to do something like this after the stupendous success of their earlier venture “Vicky Donor”. Second, for the perfect casting of all characters involved. Third, for successfully integrating reality with fiction, something that Indian cinema has seldom attempted in the past. And lastly, for doing away with all the regular Hindi movie masala elements and sticking to the story they want to narrate.

But the problem with Madras Café is that it’s a little too long for a movie that deals with a subject of this nature. Also, it might not really make too much sense for people who are not too familiar with the Sri Lankan crisis. And considering the nature of the film, you are compelled to compare it with Hollywood films on this genre and that’s where Madras Café slightly falls behind. In short, it does not really make an impact.

But in spite of all its shortcomings, Madras Café is a very intelligent and well-made film. John Abraham carries the entire film on his shoulders playing a role very different from the kind of work he’s done earlier. Nargis Fakhri is effective in a short but important role. The fact that all her dialogues were in English probably were an added advantage for her! I would give 3 stars to director Shoojit Sarkar’s Madras Café. Watch it if serious and intelligent cinema is your thing. In any case, Madras seems to be the flavor of the season. So, take your pick – its either the Express or the Café or both ;).

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