Madras Cafe Reviews
"We tried, but we lost?" No, you warned him, and he didn't listen.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Date: 26 Dec 2013
With: Maa, Azeem