“The film is a work of fiction, but it is based on research into real events, it has a resemblance to actual political events, dealing with civil war and the ideology of a rebel group.”, said director, Shoojit Sircar (source Wikipedia)
This particular film comes embedded in a context, which an experienced on by the nation, and it is, by its very nature very difficult to disassociate one from the semblance of the characters, which so fitting presents real events or perhaps (to shape it differently)have an an uncanny resemblance to the non- fictional elements.
This film is political espionage thriller, starring a new comer Rashi Kahnna in the lead role along with others like established ones like, John Abraham, Nagris Fakhri and, the background is commanded in the time period of the late 1980’s and the early ’90s, showcasing the Indian intervention in the Sri Lankan arena (ethnic conflict) and followed by the assassination of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. The main protagonist was shown to be enmeshed in the entangled mass of conspiratory military and rebel politics.
I might sound a little daft, with my proclamation of Madras café as a political thriller which does not arose much emotion, despite the much in-depth research gone into making this film. No wonder, from various insidious and ingenious ways they have resorted to destroy the facts and skirt around the issue than fully address it.
Basically, this is what is the lopsided stream running actively in the Indian cinema, no matter what the subject but over the top, larger than life picture is essential for the viewing and even the commercial viability of the film, unlike Shoojit Sircar, first movie (directorial debut) vicky donor, accompanied by witty stances, this doesn’t have much to offer, except a much excepted change in the subject line- which I guess, is the running trend. Even in the mainstream. From Arunrag Kasyap to Vishal Bhardwaj, everyone experiments with new subjects, but again keeping it sync with the mainstream, commercially profited style.
After having said all this, I still believe it did have some thrilling moments and the sound and cinematography was an absolute delight, brilliantly done!. On the other hand, the subject and the obsessions with a particular main character and his life revolving around a nation more than his very own being, made me a little skeptical. Nonetheless, the subject line is courageously taken up and I do immensely appreciate the little diversions, despite their non-veracity. This very essential diversion, I guess would open the market for the film on set. With this I leave you ponder, on the subject and choose wisely and independently of one’s historicity, and maybe view it as a well craved fictional film and see if it goes well with you.
Madras cafe had various incongruities, firstly – the film didn’t adequately address but rather gleefully depicted John’s unrequited love for “our Prime Minister”. Besides, this there seems to be no grey areas- as if about the conflict; the millions of research paper have nothing to contribute? (not a question but rather a reflection) I wonder if it’s so easy to fictionalize a piece or an lived reality and how do we choose to do the same, is a ponder able area. Further, the Indian state is the made the self-appointed savior of Sri Lankan Tamils and Anna Bhaskaran of LTF, Prabhakaran the villain. The film is fraught with increasingly, rising tensions which is deluding to an extend and also, the final brimming moment came about with the spectacular show of our failure as a national machinery to call off the appointed mission and the consequent assassination of our “our ex-PM” and finally, the ending which was astoundingly, foolish to suggest, that John grieves much more for the assassinated ‘ex-PM’ than his own wife!
Now, tragically and resoundly our anthropological history is not represented in India sufficiently rather it is fictionalized before being narrativized in the cinematic form. Here is my review of the film. (2013)