Madras Cafe Reviews

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½ December 26, 2014
A dramatization of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and the first time a suicide bomber used plastic explosives. Decent direction. Like with many Indian movies the colors and locations are highlights. Too long, and slow in parts.

"We tried, but we lost?" No, you warned him, and he didn't listen.
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

film industry.

The good:

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

good either.


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.
July 7, 2014
Was this the Rajiv Gandhi story?
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.
Super Reviewer
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.
½ February 8, 2014
Amazing direction , superb screenplay and what a subject. Its so difficult to make a film on such a sensitive issue. Hatts off shoojit,
January 20, 2014
A fully logically ....... entertaining movie
January 18, 2014
Good story but not the best execution. Last 20 minutes are phenomenal though.
½ January 1, 2014
blah blah blah, snooze snooze.
not seen anything superior or even close to a wednesday! in the hindi thriller genre, madras cafe reeked of "trying too hard".
anyway, madras cafe-d for nargis fakhri. very attractive "vase" she is but between the 2 "vases",it's still brit accent katrina over american accent nargis.
December 27, 2013
Day: Thursday
Date: 26 Dec 2013
Time: 10.30pm
With: Maa, Azeem
December 25, 2013
Entertaining. John is pretty good. Nargis is also good and pretty. Lacked a little oomph for its genre. Definitely a watch !
½ 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!!
½ November 24, 2013
Even though the writing is quite on-the-nose for a film that claims to be so different, I do admire the ambition of the film. A thriller rooted in factual events is not easy to make. But I do want to say two things about the film. Nargis Fakhri - please know that you have the potential to ruin a perfectly good film. John Abraham - I applaud your guts for producing films like Vicky Donor and Madras Cafe, but I can't help but wonder if your latest production could have greatly benefitted from an actor that has less visceral and more intellectual muscle. I wonder if an actor like Kay Kay Menon could have injected in Vikram the kind of brooding intensity that the film really needed for us to care about what happened. Instead, we watched, simply waiting for the next thing to happen, without much emotional investment.
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.
½ 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!
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