Madras Cafe Reviews
February 12, 2014
Loosely inspired from real events, the movie was worth watching for its conspiracy theory. Backstabbing was relatively less (IMO), but it had all the contents an average political thriller should. The use of intel is over-simplified, and lacks the skills of a strong spy agency. Compared to the expectations I had from it, it was short in shock and twist values. With a bit more polishing, an efficient movie could have been created. This sort of films are hardly made in mainstream cinema in Bollywood. A weak attempt with average performances..Its success might have led to the flicks of this genre. Anyway, good luck next time, if at all.
July 30, 2014
One line summary: Well-directed political thriller concerning the turmoil in 1990s Sri Lanka.
The setting is the turmoil of the 1990s in Sri Lanka. Vikram Singh is the point man for Army Intelligence (RAW, or Research and Analysis Wing) in the matter. He is drawn in when there are clear signs that an assassination attempt will be made on the former Indian PM, who seems likely to regain his seat of power.
The enemy is faceless, well-organised, and quite good at segmenting what any individual or small group needs to know. Vikram and his entire organisation work very hard at this, and arrest several groups of perpetrators, only to find that there are many small, highly effective bands with the same goal.
At one point, when Vikram gets close to a piece of the truth, he is kidnapped and tortured. He is rescued from this, and goes on the do more exceptional investigatory work. By the end of the story, though, Vikram has paid many high prices.
Through the course of the investigations, Vikram interacts, guardedly, with war correspondent Jaya. Their careful sharing of information was a well-written part of the plot. Vikram's whole-hearted pursuit of the case had more than one bad effect on his relationship with his wife Ruby.
The movie opens to Vikram in later life, alone, alcoholic, limping, and plagued with guilt over failures. Told in flashback style, the years spent pursuing the terrorists is gripping. The long effort at stopping the plot of Anna and the LFT was bulk of the film.
Cinematography: 8/10 Usually great, with a few moments of hand-held nonsense.
Sound: 6/10 I liked the music over the closing credits. Sound was not done in the traditional Bollywood fashion, but then this is a more serious work than the more common musicals. Still, some instrumental music for accenting mood might have been nice.
Acting: 8/10 The acting by the principals is outstanding.
Screenplay: 10/10 The many threads are woven together rather well. The depiction of violence was difficult to watch at times, but trenchant and central to the overall story. Much more screen time goes to political intrigue and efforts at stopping a determined terrorist group from achieving its goals.
July 26, 2014
Indian Film industry has not had a shortage of films about intense subjects pertaining to national,
international and internal security matters. In past we have seen Indian films related to encounters,
national and international controversies/scams, military operations, police and corporate syndicates,
political establishments. So what is different about madras Café?
Madras Café truly cuts the crap and delivers an honest point of view upon a very sensitive and deeply
important issue in Indian history. It does not seem to 'Advocate' to the viewer about what is right or
wrong at all. Nonetheless the film treats its subject more seriously than many of us would in our daily
lives would. This sincerity makes the film indulging and throws the viewer at the edge of seat with
excellent direction from Shoojit Sircar who chisels the subject with timely twists truly cloaking the film
with art of direction in a way that the viewer can focus on the subject. The film's beauty lies in only
the matter that it treats everyone in the film, less important than the subject itself. And it makes sure
the viewer's get the point that patriotism, struggle for freedom, war and politics crisis are above any
particular side. Like the invisible art behind the great thriller, Madras Café's main asset is the invisible
director - Shoojit Sircar (and the story for sure). After excellent films like Aparajita Tumi, Yahaan, Vicky
Donor and now Madras Café, Shoojit has certainly proved to be a matured Bengali gem of our modern
There are several winning aspects of the film. Surprisingly this time, it is not some big actor nor one
element that is the highlight of the film. It is the integration of several subtle elements that make the
film great to watch.
- Fast Paced
The movie begins with its main story up and running right from start credits without wasting a single
dialogue. Exposing viewers to this fast pacing poses a challenge to the film to keep up with this pacing
and even deliver a better punch at the end of the film. The film does all of that with a mix of subtle
surprises in the plot, and taking time to constantly deliver a lot of details to the viewer. Shoojit Sircar
brilliantly chooses which sub-plots and details to focus on, making it fast paced, but to-the-point movie.
- The subject is greater than any individual
Main leads, Abraham and Fakhri (Who resembles an actual journalist at that time who interviewed LTTE)
as well as the supporting cast are very well cast and do what is enough to convey the plot. They do not
try to grow more than required. The relationships, sub-plots, consequences of events to follow are all
tied to one plot making the viewer ever more interested in anticipation of how things will affect the final
outcome. The viewer is made aware that every small detail revealed can and probably will affect the
climax. It is surprising that for the first time, the viewers are made to feel deeply sorry, angry, agitated
and sad for a cause and events rather than for particular character. This rare quality of the film makes it
special in the genre of Indian war films. It clearly instates how its philosophy and subject is greater than
any individuals, may it be one civilian, RAW agent, soldier, militant, freedom fighter or politicians.
- Details everywhere yet new factors emerge:
The film is fun to watch because there are clear details about everything going on in the film. The
viewer is made to see the detailed facts upon which some action is being done. The film does not act
as an advocate for certain point of view. It is merely an observer and hence it does best at pointing out
details and new factors.
The film exposes the viewer fearlessly to layers of complications, some of which require the viewer to
look at everything from a high-level situation perspective, yet in another consecutive moment deluging
themselves in pool of organized details. Moreover, the film puts together a picture of co-existing and
competing stakeholders including international interests and alliances to the on-going conflict which
suddenly expands the intensity of possible outcome and makes it interestingly tense for the viewer
more than ever to see the end.
- No Songs. No unnecessary humor.
The film does not take a break.
- Supporting Cast
The supporting actors seem authentic, from LTF leaders, politicians to raw agents, the supporting cast
does great job.
The not so good:
- Clichés :
Yes, the film is unlike most other military action thrillers made in Indian cinema till now. However
it does suffer from Clichés. The whole premise of why the RAW agent wants to reveal his story to
the viewers is trite and certainly could have done something more interesting than what this film
has done. It does what every other film does, confess/cry/moan/sob about past in front of a strange
priest/psychologist/confidant and writing a book about it or an accord of the experience. Given the
creativity used in the rest of the film, this was disappointing.
However, there are some other Clichéd moments used in the film to let the viewer connect to
the film 'emotionally' and it can be argued if they were necessary. Hence it's not bad, but not so
Sharp as a piercing emotion, the light-speed plot which shortly takes pauses to let viewers absorb
details and feel the intense risks and depth of the subject, Shoojit Sircar's brilliant direction is a must
watch. Although, it does come with minor Cliché moments throughout the film, it is certainly one of
the few films which truly respect the art of film making and use it to convey a deeply felt situation
without being pompous about production quality or individuals, creating a vortex which transports the
viewer into a situation which does not preach, is not overly arty, just an honest and bold expression of a
sensitive situation which is suspense and action laden from start till the end.
March 17, 2014
I wondered how nargis could have a modern DSLR camera in a year around 1980. Attention about realism is really really bad.
I can give examples such as
Jaffna doesn't have mountains
Three wheelers contain 19 - XXXX like registration number. 19 was allocated for actually cars at that time in Sri Lanka. We as civilians who lived in Sri Lanka at that time know how brutal was LTTE and how much innocent people they killed. In overall this film is just a bullshit and amazingly we can guess that people have given it its actual place by considering the poor performance in box office arena.
January 20, 2014
A fully logically ....... entertaining movie
August 31, 2013
a great suspenseful film. like the story, nicely improvised story, fantastic casting crew and obviously great directing........
November 28, 2013
Daring and Heartbreaking!!
November 25, 2013
Gripping from the first frame to the last, Bollywood proves yet again that it is going beyond conventional cinema. As good as any Hollywood spy thriller, the movie draws its inspiration from the LTTE crisis in Sri Lanka and Rajiv Gandhi's assassination weaving a true story with an equally engaging fictional one. John Abraham gives a measured performance which might be one of his best till date. Director Sircar needs appreciation for how vividly and beautifully he has shot through Kerala and Sri Lanka bringing forth both the beauty and the horror that scars its past. Nargis Fakhri gets her fair share and the director intelligently makes her talk in English which gives her a genuine persona and reveals her true self.
November 11, 2013
One of the best Hindi movie I saw in all this year, thrilling, exciting and tight screenplay, will keep you always on the edge, John Abraham is amazing in it, a must watch...
October 21, 2013
This movie is based on a defined clandestine operation by the Indian military force and RAW intelligence agency against LTTE. This movie very much well directed that it could become one of the best movie in 2013. It's really worthwhile to watch. Must see.
October 17, 2013
This kind of movies are rare in Hindi Film Industry. A biopic, intelligent thriller; a slight inference to "The Bourne Series" is un-unthinkable. But, hats off to John Abraham for putting up such a sensitive topic on screen.
August 26, 2013
This Intense and fiery espionage flick easily slips into the league of our classic thrillers. Sircar carefully sketches the narrative streamlining fiction and pragmatism, giving it a niche of its own. Quite evidently a lot of research has gone into this narrative and probably is the closest attempt ever to capture the actualities of the heinous plot of Rajiv Gandhi assassination..Casting is an absolute awe with sircar extracting nothing less than a feat from his ensemble team of fine performers. Cinematography is exceptional and editing is at its slickest. John's performance reflects the kind of fine tuning and refinement the actor has nurtured over his career spanning a decade. Sircar has conceptualized and executed the entire script with power packed flamboyance.. A Bold thumbs up!
September 28, 2013
Good and bad in parts
September 23, 2013
superb thriller by shoojit sircar!!!serious n intense screenplay and no irrelevant songs n cheezy dilouges...based on d protests in srilanka by tamils in the late 20th century and how the indian PM was killed because of the chaos in a foreign country....kinda quite un-bollywood movie but brilliant work done by the cast and the director
September 20, 2013
Ever since the onset of hindi cinema, the onus of being the movie backdrop exclusively lies with north and west India. Recent times has witnessed diversification to east India (Devdas, Yuva, Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey, Lootera) as well. Now South India seems to have caught the fancy of Bollywood filmmakers. Be it autobiography (The Dirty Picture), comedy (Chennai Express) or issue awareness (Madras Cafe), the backdrop and supporting cast is intermittently South Indian!
Madras Cafe primarily deals with LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) during the mid 1980s, followed by the assassination of our late Prime Minister, Shri Rajiv Gandhi at the onset of 1990s. However, the movie does not claim to be a celluloid presentation of the same. Throughout the movie, the rebel group is referred to as LTF.
The movie is kind of well made. Scenes are beautifully derived out of approximately thirty years old photographs of evacuation and massacre that took place in the Sri Lankan regions that were infested with the rebel groups - both Tamil and Sri Lankan. This able derivation does remind you of the international movie Frida (Salma Hayak, Alfred Molina). Therein too scenes are beautifully derived out of paintings done by Frida Khalo.
Most of the cine goers of today were either not born or were very young during the mid 1980s. And thus, the movie does create the required awareness. The producer-director duo, John Abraham and Shoojit Sircar did a fantastic job with their debut film 'Vicky Donor' and they continue to create the same magic with 'Madras Café', in spite of the two movies being as contrasting as chalk and cheese. Shoojit has intelligently played upon the strengths of John and the result is good. Also, hats off to the makers for refraining from showing unnecessary gore, death and item numbers. Please note that, the Sri Lankan Civil War killed an estimated 80,000-100,000 people between 1982 and 2009.
However, the problem lies in the style of movie narration. Most of the hindi speaking audience is not well informed about the ongoings of the southern region, nor do they understand an iota of any of the southern languages, or the local culture that prevails there. Madras Cafe deals with a complex subject as it entails - the Indian PM and his Cabinet, Indian Military and Intelligence, Rebel Forces in Sri Lanka - both the Tamil and the Sri Lankan, Sri Lankan Army, Media and Armament Suppliers from abroad. And then, there are possibilities of leaks in all the organizations. Each leading character is prone to have a personal motive along with the political motive. Now, such a complex tale requires a lot of precision and clarity in its method of story telling. In the absence of which, you are very likely to get confused, unless you are an avid reader and movie enthusiast of international political thrillers. The aforementioned confusion very much prevails in the first half of 'Madras Cafe'.
During the climax of the movie, you make an interesting observation. The climax deals with the assassination of the ex Indian PM by a human bomb (South Indian lady). Normally, during such scenes, you pray till the last second, to call off the fast approaching calamity as you simply don't want it to happen. Till the last second, you pray for the hero to come and save the day for everyone. But, here, you actually want to see it all happen! You want the black day in the history of Indian politics to be re-created right in front of your eyes, as you were very young and confused when this event actually took place!
Actingwise, all are OK. Within his range, John is wisely experimenting with his roles, and he is doing a good job out of it. It is a pleasant surprise to see the popular Indian television producer-director and quiz show host, Siddhartha Basu perform well. Ajay Rathnam as 'Prabhakaran' looks effective. Special accolades for Prakash Belawadi for playing the drunken and shrewd south Indian official in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. His facial structure resembles that of the legendary musician A.R. Rahman. Nargis Fakhri plays the role of a hard core British journalist. Her naturally accentuated English has suited the role perfectly. Also, she has well adopted the cold demeanor required for such a role.
September 19, 2013
Who is the winneR? who gained? Awesome movie
September 6, 2013
Madras Cafe succeeds with the rawness of its conception. Sircar's attempt to dust the most controversial Indian conspiracy and giving it a fictional make-up is commendable.
The dramatized version of Indo-Lankan account culminating the assassination of ex-PM (Rajiv Gandhi) is spoken from the point of a RAW Agent who defends political killings at the same time accepts the flaw in his own system leading to the global warfare and carnage. This espionage thriller lacks energy as well as facts but doesn't take any judgmental stand
Mr. Perfect built-John's attempt to underplay (in the sense being himself) made him likable,Nargis the British journalist with American accent survives. Ajay playing the main character Anna fails deliberately with his expression missing the natural charm and characteristic smile of Velu Prabhakaran but it is Siddhartha Basu and Prakash who excel making a stand-out appearance. Dibang plays the best cameo in his own reporting style.
Madras café doesn't serves the original "filter kaapi" but the instant decaffeinated version is riveting and engaging;deserves a watch.
September 12, 2013
Madras Café comes from the Zero Dark Thirty school of filmmaking. The backdrop of the movie is that of the 1990s civil war inflicted Sri Lanka and centers on a fictional account of the Rajeev Gandhi assassination. Compared to others films coming from the recent Bollywood obsession with espionage thrillers, the content and craft of Madras Café is of superior class and the director Shoojit Sircar deals his subject with much needed boldness and realism.
The film opens in the 1990s. LTF (Liberation Tamil Front) is battling the Sri Lankan government to get a separate state for the Tamil minority of the nation. The conflict has reached to a critical point with increasing number of casualties. This issue has gained international attention and as an influential neighbor, India comes in as a mediator to talk both parties to amend peace. But when the LTF rejects all kind of peace proposals from India, the only option for the Indian government is to operate covert missions and take down the leader of LTF.
In comes Major Vikram (John Abraham), the right man for the right job. He's recruited by RAW and is assigned the responsibility to head all undercover missions and bring an end to the guerrilla movement. As the story unfolds, Vikram delves deeper into conspiracies and double-crossings that test him both physically and psychologically.
From the beginning, the film carries a tensed tone. The opening minutes of the film presents brutal images of war and the outcry of the innocents are hauntingly filmed. It is perhaps the strength of the screenplay that keeps the story unpredictable, even though we are aware about the assassination plot upfront. Each sequence throws Major Vikram into uncharted territories as we witness him whirling into uncertainty and suspicions.
As a political thriller, Madras Café is fast paced and demands sincere attention from its audience. The only glitch is that it tries to incorporate too much material at once and races its way till the end. Also, few scenes, the ones with the officers talking in their own lingos, are completely exposition heavy and confusing. However, even with a politically incorrect plot, Madras Café is believable and it leaves behind a social commentary on the devastating consequences of war.
September 6, 2013
It failed somewhere, though the story had all the potential.
September 3, 2013
It was not a perfect film, yet I enjoyed it. It was refreshing to see such a sort of a film for a change. The rest of the marquee offers the usual rah rah kiddo romances.
Shoojit Sarcar keeps the camera moving and is able to mask effectively the lack of acting talent in his main star line-up. Hence, Nargis Fakri passes muster as the hot shot war correspondent, and John Abraham as the RAW agent. Siddharth Basu is there as a RAW chief.
The movie which was a bit muddled in the start, clears up in the second half and the pace actually improves. This is refreshingly unlike most movies which flag post interval.
There is no romantic or sexual tension between Nargis Fakri and John, which is also a good thing. We are tired of all encounters between men and women ending up in bed.
The movie is more than a decent watch. It is well filmed and edited.
There was attempt to be as authentic as possible with the shoes of the PM getting a coverage. Reminded me of that sad day in May 1991.