Director Shoojit Sircar’s Madras Cafe is a story based on the civil war in Sri Lanka in the late 1980s that included merciless killings of Tamilians and the resultant political drama that unfolded in India including the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.
The first half of the movie could be a bit confusing for those who are not aware of the past true events of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, led by the rebel group LTTE that led to the sacrifice of many innocent lives. The story starts with John Abraham, playing the role of an Indian army officer, talking to a priest in a church and then we go through his flash back. He is sent to do a covert operation in Jaffna. He meets a foreign journalist (Nargis Fakhri) and goes through talks with Anna, the head of the fictional rebel group LTF. He faces many betrayals from his own colleagues that results in many failed missions later. His wife is murdered. A soldier’s life is being sensitively portrayed in the film.
The second half of the movie is a suspense thriller where the viewers, who if they didn’t understand the first part completely, are forced to come back to the original script. Things come to light and we realize who is the culprit and what actually is Anna planning to do. Messages are decoded in India and Nargis as a journalist helps by disclosing her sources that provide further information. A chemical engineer makes bombs and delivers it to the people who are hired and trained to be human-bombs. Throughout the film, I couldn’t realize why the movie is being titled Madras Cafe. It could have been any other more effective title. But then we are shown that the main conspiracy of assassination of the ex-prime minister in exchange of heavy arms happens in this cafe in abroad.
John Abraham has polished his acting skills and never gives one single opportunity for criticizing his role. He himself has produced this film along with Ronnie Lahiri and Viacom 18 Motion Pictures. Nargis plays the role of a journalist quite effectively. Only she delivers every line in English. She travels from India to Jaffna straight into the jungles to interview Anna. And then suddenly she is shown to be in a posh room in her office in a foreign land. Her life is shown indeed very fast that doesn’t quite gain my approval.
The film doesn’t have any item songs or vulgarity and doesn’t waver even once from its original script. The story doesn’t bore and powerfully delivers the true facts of the civil war. An excellent cinematography by Kamaljeet Negi is guaranteed. For those who like to see action thrillers with lots of murderous scenes and bullets shooting straight through the head, this movie is a must watch. The end is not like most of the Bollywood movies where there should be a happy ending mandatorily. This is an example of how past history can be portrayed without any fear of being biased or falling into the race of achieving-that-100-crore-mark status. There is no over-commercialization and the lead roles have not gone too overboard with their film’s promotions, given that every other Bollywood film nowadays are being promoted like the world is going to end tomorrow and so let’s beg the audience today itself to watch the movie straight away! This film will keep the audience guessing in the first part, a bit confused with where the story is taking them and then the second part will keep our eyes glued to the screen. A gripping film and so just take some time out and then go and watch it. This film is worth every penny.