Madras Cafe ~ Review

Madras Cafe sees John Abraham shine in a hard-hitting anti-terrorism flick. Our Bollywood film reviewer, Faisal Saif provides the low-down on the story, performances, direction and music. Find out if it is one to watch or give a miss.

Madras Cafe

Madras Cafe comes from the same team who gave us Vicky Donor in 2012. Vicky Donor was successful in setting a new trend in Bollywood Cinema. The trend? A film which was considered out of the box, yet a commercial entertainer.

Madras Cafe talks about Sri Lankan Terrorism. Yes, you guessed it right, LTTE. Shoojit Sircar has made one film before Vicky Donor called Yahaan (2005) with Jimmy Shergill in the lead. Why I reminded you of the movie Yahaan? I will explain it later in my coming lines.

Madras Cafe Movie Still John Abraham

Major Vikram Singh (played by John Abraham) lands in Sri Lanka heading RAW’s covert operations. He must work with colleague Bala to get Anna Bhaskaran (played by Ajay Rathnam) who is the head of the rebel LTF group, also known as ‘Tigers’, to accept a peaceful resolution.

Vikram knows Anna will be a huge challenge. In this journey, Vikram is accompanied by his foreign journalist friend Jaya (played by Nargis Fakhri). What surprises him is how many others he must face.

The story of the film is dark, brutal and hard to digest with a common cine-goer.
John Abraham, Nargis Fakhri and Ajay Rathnam shine out.
Shoojit Sircars direction reminds you of his earlier film Yahaan (2005). He directs a film which might be hard to digest.
The camera work looks similar to Shoojit Sircars earlier film Yahaan (2005). The production values are good.
The background score of the film is wonderful.
Madras Cafe is good. No doubts. But just a one-time watch. Review Scores by Faisal Saif

Let me assure you that Madras Cafe is a subject which Bollywood has refused to touch upon previously. Still, our South Indian (once) maverick film maker Mani Ratnam has exposed Sri Lankan Terrorism in one of his Tamil films, Kannathil Mutthamital (2002).

Madras Cafe is harsh, dark and brutal at times. Madras Cafe of course has a no-nonsense screenplay. But the only question that raised many times in my brains, will Madras Cafe be digested with Indian cine-goers who first look out for ‘masala’ in a Bollywood film?

When we are talking about performances, John Abraham is simply superb and outstanding as he brings Major Vikram alive on the screen.

Nargis Fakhri as Jaya is good and convincing. Let me make a point clear, Nargis Fakhri’s role is an inspiration from real-life journalist Anita Pratap who first interviewed LTTE chief Prabhakaran.

Ajay Rathnam as the LTF Chief Bala is just amazing. This actor speaks from his eyes. The rest of the casting is also good.

Shoojit Sircar has churned out a wonderful film but it looks he has a fetish for Terrorism stories. Many times, Madras Cafe reminded me of Yahaan (which was a love story set in a Kashmiri terrorism backdrop).

Even the cinematography of Madras Cafe reminds you of Shoojit’s earlier film Yahaan at many points. The film despite of a 2-hour length drags at many points. The production value and background score is first rate.

But as I have wrote many times in my earlier reviews, these ingredients do not save a film. A film is saved by a good story’s backing.

A good story is a story which everyone in the country wants to hear. A good story is not a story which is heard or seen by a certain sector of audiences. Vicky Donor was a good story.

I read somewhere a senior and respected film critic (who loves to distribute ‘5 stars’ to any film like candies and chocolates) wrote: “Get off the train, baby. This is arguably the best political thriller that Bollywood has so far given us.”

By writing this line, I think he was (indirectly) pointing at the ‘Super-Success’ of Shahrukh Khan’s Chennai Express. But all I can say after watching Madras Cafe is: “Keep boarding the train which is full of entertainment and gives a value to your hard earned money.”

Madras Cafe is good, no doubts. But the film is just a one time watch!

Faisal Saif is our Bollywood film reviewer and Journalist from B-Town. He has huge passion for everything Bollywood and adores its magic on and off screen. His motto is to "Stand unique and tell Bollywood Stories in a Different Way."