Madras Cafe – Movie review

Madras Café (2013) is a Hindi movie directed by Shoojit Sircar and acted/produced by John Abraham. The movie is a lot different from Bollywood stuff we have seen in recent past. While acting from Siddhart Basu (RAW chief), John Abraham and Nargis Fakri is just about average, the other supporting actors are really good – cabinet secretary, anna bhaskaran and other RAW staff.

1st half of the movie is like a self indulgence from the director. He had a great canvas to showcase the enormity of civil war. But the problem is in trying to bring so many short events into the screenplay and try to compress them in 1 hr. Screenplay is the casualty as the whole flow of events is not done properly. Trying to show people suffering, realistic guns, helicopters and other war material works for a while but get monotonous.

It is the 2nd half that compensates for the issues in 1st. Plot unfolds beautifully and reaches the expected climax. Mixing facts with fiction works really well here. Direction and screenplay both take this part to much higher levels.

What I did not like though is the background score – it is just noisy and abrupt. Of late, directors are paying lot of attention to micro level details. Examples of recent such movies are Lootera, Special 26 and now Madras Café. While it is a good thing, not sure how many people would even notice if the ex-PM wore Nike shoes or Lotto shoes on night of assassination, etc. And sometimes, this attention for details leads to incoherent scenes in those movies.

Kudos to John Abraham and Shoojit Sircar to take such a risk and make this movie on a sensitive subject. The director is behind 2 very good movies in the past – Yahaan and Vicky Donor. While Yahaan has some very real action scenes, it over simplified the Kashmir problem and did not have a strong story line. Vicky Donor was a superb movie.

Madras Cafe has nothing offensive of the Tamils. Good movie – could have been a great one if the 1st half was better managed. Bollywood has a long way to go in making believable war movies – Madras Café is a good thing in that direction.

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