Madras Cafe- Film Review

“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)


From Baghdad to Bolangir – Labour Laws in India: Saba Sharma

KAFILA - 10 years of a common journey

Guest post by SABA SHARMA

From the crisis in Iraq, a story is emerging of 40 construction workers in Mosul who have gone missing, some reports claim because they were trying to escape from the city and were captured by militants in the process. Many of these workers, feared kidnapped by ISIS, refused both their employers’ and the Indian government’s help to evacuate, as many have not been paid up to five months’ wages. Another report reveals that a group of 46 nurses from Kerala, working in a hospital in Tikrit, have refused to leave despite an offer from Delhi to help them evacuate. They need the money, as do their families back at home, so they would rather move to a safe zone in Iraq than return. Two nurses in the same hospital, who are on holiday in India, told the BBC that they would return despite the travel…

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Communal Joy

In this musical world there is no room for dying children, selfish sisters, or intractable foes. Instead, plots are redesigned to further the young couple’s romance while celebrating their love through the energy of song and dance. The pictures were filled with swooping crane shots, voluptuous plays of fabric and colour, and skifully orchestrated background detail. With the detailing’s done to set the Mise-en-scène.

The artist – hero is a lonely character, who is inhabiting an oppressively patriarchal and capitalistic society, who cannot fully sublimate desire into art. Unlike his life portrayal, he is forlorn and despondent bereft of any hope. And yes, he is my protagonist.  He speaks softly but with a heavy, distinct melancholy tone. Holds the notion of double and divided identity close. When seen in a mix of gleaming close – ups, one can decipher the world weary charm.

In flashback-

Circumstantial elements denote an rising star amidst clouded beliefs.


Graphic Art

Elevated to a starred status*

Radical Love

“I suffer from life and from other people. I can’t look at reality face to face. Even the sun discourages and depresses me. Only at night and all alone, withdrawn, forgotten and lost, with no connection to anything real or useful — only then do I find myself and feel comforted.”
— Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Wodehouse magic

But they did need a passport, and that was the English language. English was undoubtedly Britain’s most valuable and abiding legacy to India, and educated Indians, a famously polyglot people, rapidly learned and delighted in it – both for itself, and as a means to various ends. These ends were both political (for Indians turned the language of the imperialists into the language of nationalism) and pleasureable (for the language granted access to a wider world of ideas and entertainments). It was only natural that Indians would enjoy a writer who used language as Wodehouse did – playing with its rich storehouse of classical precedents, mockingly subverting the very canons colonialism had taught Indians they were supposed to venerate


Mutterings of the sea to the din of a great city

The sounds of our day to day life we hitherto perceived merely as a confused noise, as a formless mass of din, rather as an unmusical person may listen to a symphony; at best he may be able to distinguish the leading melody, the rest will fuse into a chaotic clamor. An old maxim that art saves us from chaos. It is true ! Art’s vocation is to redeem us from the chaos of the shapeless noise by accepting it as expression rendered meaningful, as significant.. ly ordered.

Segregated individual intimate voices, and made them speak to us in vocal vibrations.


Pogrom Politics from 1984 to 2002: Sanjay Kumar

KAFILA - 10 years of a common journey

Guest post by SANJAY KUMAR

Delhi 1984 and Gujarat 2002 are among the darkest spots in India’s post independence history. Like all other communal killings in the country, they too were similar in the mechanics of their violence. Connivance of the top state authorities, active role of elected politicians, police and bureaucratic indifference, a cornered and hapless minority, and participation of ordinary folks in violence and looting, all elements of the process of communal killings almost reached the  point of perfection in these two pogroms. So much so, that they indeed were not contained, but played themselves out fully, till the time killers and looters got tired, or when nobody was left to be killed, and nothing remained to be burnt and looted. All those who talk, think, write or make claims about civilisation in India, should take a few moments off to come to terms with these two events…

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Extracts – Into the wild

Some readers admired the boy immensely for his courage and noble ideals; others fulminated that he was a reckless idiot, a wacko, a narcissist who perished out of arrogance and stupidity—and was undeserving of the considerable media attention he received.

Alaska has long,

been a magnet for dreamers and misfits, people who think the unsullied enormity of the Last Frontier will patch all the holes in their lives. The bush is an unforgiving place, however, that cares nothing for hope or longing.

Gallien asked whether he had a hunting license.

“Hell, no,” Alex scoffed. “How I feed myself is none of the government’s business. Fuck their stupid rules.”

It should not be denied. . . that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations, with absolute freedom, and the road has always led west.

At long last he was unencumbered, emancipated from the stifling world of his parents and peers, a world of abstraction and security and material excess, a world in which he felt grievously cut off from the raw throb of existence.