Cast: John Abraham, Nargis Fakhri, Rashi khanna
Director: Shoojit Sircar
Runtime: 130 Minutes
A political thriller set in the midst of Srilankan Civil war and Rajiv Gandhi Assassination, with a documentary-like treatment in terms of storytelling, realistic depiction for an inglorious event in our political history is what Madras Café is all about.
The draggy first half does hinder the progress, but once crossing that hurdle entertains you with its intensity. If not for the last hour, this would have turned out into a boring war-account journal of a soldier.
The buildup takes time, almost the whole of the first half and only ends up becoming interesting towards the end. Perhaps a different approach in depiction, like a to-and-fro flash back or a stroke of Vantage-point analysis, would have worked better. Rather, they go in sequence which limits the story and stops it from going to a level that this could have achieved.
Madras café revolves around the Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, LTF (as LTTE has been named)’s agenda on tamil liberation, how an Intelligence failure may result into becoming a game changer and the life and times of a Soldier-turned Raw agent to bind it all.
John Abraham plays the character of Vikram Singh, who has been deployed in a covert operation to find the solution that the Indian Government needs, i.e, Bring Anna (LTTE Chief Prabhakaran) onto a feasible negotiation. The mission is to install peace in Sri lanka to not let it become another security threat to India in future because of any western influence.
Although John’s acting skills haven’t been his forte before, but his dedication to try and fit-in this one, shows. Yet, the idea of Director Shoojit Sircar to portray him as someone who could get lost in the midst of the crowd so as to attempt at playing a spy, doesn’t exactly fall into place. There are of course patches where he does appear good and is an improvement.
However, the real catch out of Madras café is Nargis Fakhri, playing the role of an international war journalist named Jaya, and having to only speak in English with a British accent which she is familiar with, makes her repeat the mistakes that she was part of in Rockstar. This is actually her re-launch. She not only makes the character her own, but makes it meaningful.
Other notable characters include Siddharth basu as Robin Dutt (RAW Cheif ), Prakash Belawadi (Playing the role of Bala) and Rashi Khanna (Playing the role of John’s wife Rubi), who leave a mark with their performances.
The background score, as well as the use of real guns and bullets, has put in a sense of authenticity to the thriller, while shots in various south Indian cities, Thailand, Sri-lanka give you the feel and idea of the Civil-war like situation.
If it wouldn’t have been for the intense pace and perhaps the events that followed in the second half, the film wouldn’t have turned out to be the way it is. There were a couple of things that Shoojit Sircar, could have used a bit differently, yet for the realistic depiction and trying to not show the issue in just pure white and black, he deserves an applause.
It’s not great, even takes time to shape up but promises to have depth in everything that it does. With a little patience, you can watch this espionage thriller, which could have been so much better, with a vantage point like treatment.
I’m going with a 3/5 for a new kind of genre attempted by Shoojit for an espionage thriller, which could have been better.