"Impressive concoction of fact & fiction!!!"
As any avid movie buff would have noticed, our film industry has pretty much dabbled with all sort of genres except for political thrillers which has been far & few. I wouldn't fault the makers for this, coz inevitably most of the time it has courted trouble as in the case of "Vishwaroopam", "Black Friday" etc ; thanks to some whimsical minded individuals & groups. The latest to join this bandwagon is Shoojit Sircar's "Madras Cafe", which has been banned in Tamil Nadu. Hmm... so let's see what's this hungama all about???
Until a couple of years back, Sri Lanka was embroiled in a bitter Civil War between the Government & LTTE (named as LTF in the movie). The film unfolds with the signing of the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord to enforce the disarmament of LTF & facilitate the process of regional council. As part of this pact, the Indian Government sent in their Peace Keeping Force but instead of reining in the violence, it gets blown out of proportions. At this juncture, the RAW chief, RD (Siddharth Basu) assigns a covert operation to his trusted military intelligence officer Vikram Singh (John Abraham) which was to weaken the stranglehold of LTF in the region. In the process, Vikram opens a can of worms which eventually culminates in the assassination of our ex-PM.
After having drawn praise from one & all, for his previous venture "Vicky Donor"; Shoojit Sircar has chosen a totally different topic which belongs to the not so oft used genre of political thrillers. There are no two words about it, as he has come up with one of the best ever political thriller made in Bollywood with the filming being kinda reminiscent of the Hollywood style. The best part of the film is that it doesn't take sides & leaves the judgement to the discretion of the audience. The credit also goes to the compelling script & screenplay by Somnath Dey & Shubendu Bhattacharya aided by the crisp editing & visuals by Chadrashekhar Prajapathi and Kamaljeet Negi respectively which keeps the audience hooked throughout.
Frankly speaking, I don't think of John Abraham as much of an actor except for his excellent stunts but over here he was spot on as he gets into the skin of the character quite convincingly. In addition, John also have to be applauded for seeking to produce films which are distinct unlike the usual run of the mill. Siddhartha Basu was quite an interesting choice as the RAW Chief & he has done a good job along with Prakash Belawadi (as Bala). As opposed to her previous venture, Nargis Fakhri has improved which was aided to a certain extent that she had to mouth only English dialogues. The rest of the cast such as Ajay Bhaskaran (as Anna), Kannan Arunachalam (as Shri) etc., has done their parts aptly.
Verdict: With "Chennai Express" bull dozing forward, "Madras Cafe" would find the going tough. It's unlikely to cater to the single screens but thanks to the impressive content & execution it should have a decent run in the multiplexes. In short, delve into this without fail!!!
John Is Gr8 In His Character But The Film Is Uneven & Not That Convincing.But Yet To Tries & Becomes Successful At Times.It Is Overall Good Despite The Flaws & Inconsistency
MADRAS CAFE: RAW, Rustic, Rare
Well, well. Time and again we've seen Hindi political films on India, Pakistan and Afghanistan mainly. It's a welcome change when the scene of action shifts to Sri Lanka. That day is not far when Nepal, Bhutan, Bangla Desh and Maldives too can find themselves on the silver screen. The credit for bringing Madras Cafe to the silver screen solely rests with John Abraham and he should receive a standing ovation for it. Political movies are not easy to make, more so releasing them in theatres. But John's statements like "Priyanka Gandhi is the sexiest woman in India (Jan 28 2009); I love PG to death (Feb 6 2009), PG is my idea of beauty (Sep 26 2011), PG worthy of sexy person award (Nov 29 2012), or most recently I hope PG is our next PM (Aug 17 2013)" certainly helped cross gandhi barriers, and make the film and even release the film in India except in Tamil Nadu, UK and Canada. Well, John should've courted the Tamils too to have a smooth overall release.
John has broken some records too in his political endeavour. He comes across as a fine actor, who was hiding behind the nonsensical masala films but had given enough glimpses of an actor in Water (2005) and New York (2009). He also came across as a bold producer, who refused to give in to political bullying in Tamil Nadu. I personally am against bullying of any kind. Cinema is a public domain of creativity and let the public decide where the movie stands instead of some "all-knowing" politico dictating the terms for it's non-release.
Major Vikram Singh (John Abraham) is a RAW agent, who is assigned to go to Jaffna to help bring political stability. He has a tough job apprehending Anna Bhaskaran (Ajay Ratnam), leader of a Tamil outfit LTF. In the course of his assignment, he meets Jaya Sahni (Nargis Fakhri) who is a British war correspondent. And slowly the plot unfolds. It is not only the war and political situation but there is a sinister plot of assassinating the former Prime Minister of India (Sanjay Gurbaxani). The plot has been hatched out sitting in a Madras Cafe. And before our RAW agent can safeguard him, fate intervenes. Unable to bear this failure, the agent hits the bottle. The movie unfolds in a flashback with the agent relating it all to a church pastor. Factual liberties have been taken but they certainly don't matter.
The actors chosen to play LTTE leader V Prabhakarn (Ajay Ratnam) and Rajiv Gandhi (Sanjay Gurbaxani) need special mention as they bear uncanny resemblance to the characters they play. Anita Pratap too would be left comparing her life with Nargis's portrayal. The cast has been aptly chosen and they infuse life in their roles. Yes, unnecessary political controversy created will certainly dent the box office collections but the question is hasn't this controversy deprived the viewers to watch a well-executed movie that brings alive a crucial part of India's political history and shows a snuffed out young political life? It is not the movie's loss but of the viewers.