wogma rating: Watch but no rush (?)
Unevenly paced yet engaging, a must watch but not necessarily in a rush.Read more
We were looking forward to Shoojit Sircar's next film, right after Vicky Donor, weren't we? We did, and I doubt the genre he'd pick would matter. But, such a pleasant surprise and how exciting to see him take on a thriller.
Anyway, it's been a while since we had our last thriller. And after the spate of romantic films, Madras Cafe is a welcome change. The manner in which the trailer has been put together and the texture of the film interest you immediately.
Of course, ever since John Abraham did No Smoking, I've admired his guts to participate in risky projects and found it difficult to dislike whatever he takes on even though I'm not the biggest fan of his acting. And then of course, he went on to produce Vicky Donor which was another risky project. This obviously makes you look forward to the next film he picks to produce.
Fortunately, to balance expectations slightly you have Nargis Fakhri who single-handedly spoiled Rockstar for me. Hopefully, she'll have little scope here to have much of an impact. One of the rare times when I want a smaller impact role for a woman. Also, it helps that her character requires to have an accent.
While you can make out most of the story from the trailers, you do look forward to Madras Cafe. The music is garnering enough interest too.
- meeta, a part of the audience
After two weeks of typical masala fare, anything "different" is more than welcome. And that's exactly what Madras Cafe is - different - something that hasn't been tried too often in India; a real-life incident from recent history fictionalised but put forth with as much realism as is possible; the politics behind the incident is deciphered to some extent. For that I admire the makers for investing the time, money and talent in this project. Yet, ultimately as a film, Madras Cafe's narration seemed like I was narrating a horrifying news item to my kids - simplified; episodic; brought down to their level; without getting into too much detail yet pointing out the necessary elements.
In its treatment, Madras Cafe reminds you of the numerous political thrillers from Hollywood which are very well-executed even if pulsing with drama. It keeps you engaged, has a texture that it maintains beautifully throughout the film, and of course, has its share of loopholes. It assumes a high regard for a certain position - in this case, it substitutes the President of the United States of America with the ex-Prime Minister of India. His importance and stake in the scheme of things is a given.
There are a few other things that worked against the drama though. For example, at the very outset you know the outcome of the film. There is nothing to look forward to in terms of turn of events, there is nothing to hope against hope for. I couldn't help but wonder what if the film hadn't opened with Vikram's (John Abraham) take on things. I wonder if the build up to the same event would've been different, I wonder if there would've been a better connect with the characters.
Here you have someone you know nothing about in remorse about some deadly political event he was a part of. You are given a bit of his backstory but other than that you have nothing than your nationalism to connect to the happenings. The moment Jaya (Nargis Fakhri) makes a pretentious comment about anti-nationalism, you disconnect from her. And this is one of her first few lines in the film. Not that she has much to do later in the film, yet I was constantly looking for some way to be more involved.
The first half of the film is narrated with fervor and is completely engrossing. The many events and characters keep you on your toes. The brief background of the situation that was steaming in Sri Lanka and the ethnic war was perfect both as a quick revision to those of us who knew of it and an introduction to those who didn't. Like I mentioned earlier, motivations and implications are explained efficiently.
You are taken aback by the realism when you realise how overt a covert operation really is. It's not difficult to believe that that's how things must be in real life. So real that you forget it is John Abraham playing the role of secret agent, Vikram. This is by far his best performance. In addition, once you've walked out of the theater, you have to marvel at his gutsy decision of producing a film of this nature - this film is as devoid of masala as it gets.
I am sure, the film had a number of things that aren't authentic but the dangerous situations in which our agents operate just glares at you. At the same time, you wonder if one agent's life is really considered precious enough for the entire R&AW to put its men at stake.
Moreover, later, the pace slackens off in the second half where Madras Cafe tries to delve into the emotions of the people who you aren't connected with. I don't have so much of a problem with slow-paced films as I have with inconsistency in the pace. It's like you have to apply a sudden brake when you are driving at top speed. For example, while you have a person kidnapped and released within five minutes, the methodology of decoding hidden messages is painstakingly and childishly described later in the film.
Also, Madras Cafe tries to bring in the sentiments of the terrorists a little too late in the film, especially considering the film is very clear about where it stands on the issue. A one-liner takeaway at the end of the film only amplifies the fact that not enough time was spent on the other side. I think it is brilliant that a filmmaker/writer picks a side and sticks to it. Then, why the need to show the other side?
On the other hand, I loved the other contrast that director Shoojit Sircar brings out. Every once in a while, in this place full of violence and turmoil you see a peaceful monk walk through as if he were in a monastery. Also, the contrast of the monstrosity of the terrorists/rebels agains the beautiful landscapes of Sri Lanka are captured beautifully by cinematographer Kamaljeet Negi.
So, here we are, some things brilliant, others not so much. A film that insists on not naming names but is about the events that build up to the assassination of an ex-Prime minister of India in 1991 and not to mention releases in the week of Rajiv Gandhi's birthday. Nevertheless, a film I'm glad was made, even if there were things I didn't quite like. A film which I hope you will watch, even if you don't rush to the theaters. A film that makes me wonder about its timing, given the current political climate of the country.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Thumbs up, by Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama : ...MADRAS CAFE is an earnest and honest effort, a terrific thriller, with several poignant moments and episodes that leave a stunning impact.... full review
Thumbs up, by Akshaya Mishra , FirstPost : ...It’s easy for a movie like Madras Cafe to dissolve into the nonsensical in the true tradition of Bollywood espionage/suspense thrillers. But this film holds its own.... full review
Thumbs up, by Vinayak Chakravorty, india today : ...The film tells a story we already knew. Yet it scores because of the way Sircar maintains intrigue, teasing viewers with regular twists Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/madras-cafe-review/1/300998.html... full review
Thumbs up, by Karan Anshuman, Mumbai Mirror : ...John Abraham's more nuanced performances. he is perfectly convincing as the man in charge of ops in Jaffna. UK-based reporter played by Nargis Fakhri are less plausible.... full review
So-So, by Mansha Rastogi , Now Running.com : ...Madras Cafe is a stupendous thriller and though it slips in some parts, the film is an overall winner. Cinema like this should be encouraged!... full review
So-So, by Shilpa Jamkhandikar, Reuters : ...The acting is as average as the film is – Abraham is earnest but doesn’t rise above what is a one-dimensional role. Nargis Fakhri’s character is also poorly sketched and doesn’t have much screen time.... full review
Ziddi_Armaan: Madras cafe... a must c !
wasimmiyya: Madras cafe !! A non commercial n an intelligent Bollywood muvi ...Bollywood raising d bar wid such muviz...great work
vishalraaga: Madras cafe a great film.
Viru1998: Madras cafe has my 5 ' stars'
veer_3101: John abraham has evolved as an actor. Watched # #madras cafe captivating and spell bound
vbroutray: Madras Cafè desrves a special mention for the haunting background score like Entry to Jaffna & the title theme Madras Cafè.Excellent Moitra.
tweet_yadav: Madras cafe... Just Woww...awsome
the_Utopist: Madras Cafe is a rather intelligent film coming from the Indian film Industry. Go watch it.
sushrithreddy: Madras cafe is a perfect drama which makes you to sit on the edge of your seat.
sunitdere: Madras Cafe ... A must watch ... Hats off
sumitsaurabh: Enjoy the weekend ! 3.5 stars to madras cafe !
sophiaahmed: Yummy midnight shwarama - Good ending to a good movie at Dubai Mall - Madras Cafe.
shwepps1082: Madras Cafe..super movie in this day n age!! Finally a gud realistic movie in a while! N for once i like John A :)
shubhamey: Madras cafe (y) must watch movie Awesome work @TheJohnAbraham thanks for producing such a great film Whole movie's awesomely written ...!!
sharma_apoorv: Liked the movie madras cafe. #MadrasCafe
SarangiSabu0977: madras cafe was a beautiful movie.
samratsaha222: Madras Cafe....! Best Bollywood movie of the year....... simply "awesome"....
Saikcumar: Madras Cafe has to be John's best movie. Must admit that it's a bold attempt overall. #MadrasCafe #India
Sahaypk: Madras Cafe : Go&watch. Different kind of movie with great direction. U will also learn something abt our country past
S1024B: Madras Cafe is a must watch.
Rohkyv: Bravo. I agree with you. Worth it. :) RT @crazyhumankid: Madras Cafe has been watched. Standing ovation has been given.
ridhi1221: Madras cafe : a must watch .. a wonderfully directed and executed film !
rashi_daga: Madras Cafe, gripping and well executed.
Rahulbishani13: Madras cafe,the whole movie is good n a must watch...Bt rajiv ghandhi key shoes....pathetic...
pujaaaaltekar: Madras Cafe a must watch film !!!
psemophile: Madras Cafe is hilariously over edited. But still great.
Prithvithakker: Madras Cafe well directed & acted. It's all about the story, direction& acting. Hats off John. Well done "Madras Cafe team." @TheJohnAbraham
prithviraj906: Watched Madras Cafe...An awsm movie...
princeursaryan: "MADRAS CAFE" nice movie. . u all need to see it
PratikRaj236: Madras cafe: A must watch... Flashback to LTTE and Rajiv Gandhi' assassination..
PranshulJain25: AWESOME INTENSE MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!Madras Cafe
prakashtweet: Madras cafe-soojit sarcar and whoever researchd and materialised it for making as a ciema, hats off.
pnpk1976: Madras Cafe deserves an Oscar nomination. If Argo could win so can MC. Absolutely brilliantly directed. Good job Surojit and team
Piyushsumera200: Get off the train baby....Arguably the best political thriller of the bollywood has arrived!!!!@madras cafe
parthbakshi: Madras cafe a really awesome political thriller after a long time.
palnish: Known plot, unknown truths, awsum direction ...gud watch# Madras cafe
niyam_haria: Madras Cafe is a must watch movie. The alleged plot behind Rajiv Gandhi's assassination exposed in a gripping way. Dont miss it.Gr8 movie :)
NirjaBhartiya: #Madras cafe a fabulous film:D
ninja_chaacha: Beautifully shot and scored,Madras cafe is an experience. It reaches out, it whispers and then, it stays..Take a bow shoojit.
NIMEESH99: Watched a smart Film after so long~ poignant~intelligent, well-executed~ well-enacted cinema, kudos to the Team of Madras Cafe !!"
neorajas: Madras Cafe a must watch. Something different.
Neetu_Chandra: The only word for MADRAS CAFE is.. WOW. Hats Off to Sujeet Sarkar,John Abrahim n the whole TEAM. In No offence to... https://www.facebook.com/neetu.chandra1/posts/10152120859291521
nagaraj_squid: Madras Cafe - a very good movie.
mrcthevar: #Madras CAFE. "Changing face of Indian filmmaking"... Well researched,directed and edited... Want more Madras cafe types of movie....
Mpavan_9: Madras cafe s an superb must watch movie. Nicely made based on true story. Good work from director.
mohammed_mia: Madras cafe. Worth for ma money and time. Awesome movie. Must watch. John Abraham. Good to go boss. U rocked it.
Misbi4u: Madras Cafe Liked:-)
MihirBijur: Madras Cafe is a great watch. The alleged plot behind Rajiv Gandhi's assassination exposed in a gripping way. Don't miss it.
michael786: Madras Cafe is a refreshing return to the theatres for a film that expects you to be educated, informed and attentive. 4.5/5
ManishDoomra: Madras Cafe, another good attempt made by Shoojit Sircar after Vicky Donor
madangrv: If you ask me, I recommend you to make time for this one...! Madras Cafe is a worth watch!!! We all watched it... https://www.facebook.com/madanramvenkatesh/posts/10151795334608887
Lavjit_Singh: Madras Cafe. An excellent research presented by excellent cinema.
laalbatti: Madras cafe, certainly raised the bar very high. Awesome movie.. Time we let ourselves be truly democratic.. No reason for ban..
kvpops: Madras Cafe is one of the finest political thrillers produced in our country. there is no substitute to a great... http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151669274411553&l=7f639d0c54
kumar86kumawat: Really nice movie....jhon keep it...2 nice movies from ur production house #madras cafe
kt8621: Hi @Shivani510 I just saw Madras Cafe. Really gripping political thriller and definitely worth a watch. Do try to catch it
KaustubhKapse: madras cafe is The very thrill& shocking film must be The watch movie
kaushikmkhrj: madras cafe is a must watch movie for everybody........................
KarimSays: Madras Cafe is one good movie. Nice story and screenplay. Also, not a big fan of no brainer movies so another reason liked it #madrascafe
jyothi204: Watched Madras Cafe.. its so easy to criticize th efforts n so easy to not acknowledge unseen Heros who make us live life.. gud movie..
justanirudhs: John, hats off to you, for having the guts to make Madras Cafe. Atleast after so many years somebody did it
jsaideepak: LTTE gets peed on in Madras Cafe, loved it! :p
Jon_Doe_297: Madras cafe. Super. Zero nonsense. Go watch.
jaymathur: Madras Café was a good watch. Gripping and well made movie from Bollywood.
JayDex_18: Way beyond bollywoods league #madras cafe
itsmepai23: Madras cafe-Absolute must watch. Warning not for faint hearted and tp film goers. Some quality film making still alive.
imKalpak: Shoojit sircar & John's combination is too good. You seem to be glued on the seat till the assasination#Madras Cafe
iamyashsoni: Madras cafe!!!brilliant movie@TheJohnAbrahama a must watch...so far the best of 2013!!@NargisFakhri
iamvroon: Madras Cafe is a swift & smart movie.superb (MC) !!
gujju_: Madras Cafe is good. A perfect mix of facts and fiction. So glad to see a good movie after such a long time.
gsvas: Madras cafe a superbly well made film.
GrittyNomad: Madras cafe won't disappoint you.
gourabkundu: Madras cafe, 3.5/5. Though John produced a great cinematic experience, the ensemble and not the reminiscence of the lead makes it click.
g1pawar: Thanks Shoojit Sirkar for giving us Madras Cafe !!!
FormidableWords: Madras Cafe - One amazing political thriller in bollywood after ages !
DTCinemasLtd: MADRAS CAFE is a dark deep and satisfying film about the politics of separatism. http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=713460735336061&l=860c9118a0
DrVinzzz: I saw 'Madras Cafe' last night. Nicely made movie, well edited and good attention to details. I would definitely recommend to watch it.
drmchaturvedi: Madras Cafe. Reliving the time. Fantastic !!
dosti_etc: Yeah, agree with u... (: RT @crazyhumankid: Madras Cafe has been watched. Standing ovation has been given."
dmanjula71: Bollywood producing some real good movies nowadays....'MADRAS CAFE' is yet another must watch movie !!!!
dkalva: #Madras Cafe...4 out of 5 stars...good film.worth spending 3 hours of your time...
divine_inside_: Watched Madras Cafe in a packed hall. Shoojit Le Carre Sircar deserves a shabaash.Yes, it's controversial.That's why it works.
dhwanil_1927: Seen Madras cafe, loved this movie like anything. The most amazing direction. @ShoojitSircar sir, thank you so much for making such films.:)
dhaasu_vasu: Madras Cafe a really good movie. Must watch movie.
D_Rockerss: U cnt afford 2mis a singl minute of Madras Cafe..!! Best @TheJohnAbraham muvi till date.. super muvi in dis day n age..
CyberShubhaM: Madras Cafe : Must Watch (y)
cpauleen: Well made movie "Madras Cafe" John at his best.2 hour 10 mins worth..
chota_engineer: madras cafe....simply awesome :)
chintanadva: Madras Cafe outperforms Jobs @aplusk by a significant margin. A must watch
boyzz648: hi john , saw madras café was awesome.. I have seen each and every films of yours and liked a lot.
blissfull07: Madras cafe, a serious but a gripping movie
BiteeTheBullet: Epic movie Madras Cafe ! *.*
bhavmca2006: Madras cafe ...excellent movie..Such a well made..deserves an audience...
avichal86: Madras cafe.. Must watch
ashishbadshah: Superb movie -Madras Cafe ! Excellent ! Gripping ...
ArvindatNIIT: Madras Cafe not running to a packed house but nicely made. Fairly gripping. Missed the item nos though as expected from a Bollywood film.
arunavasen3: Loved the movie Madras cafe......
amitabhk87: Saw #Madras Cafe. Compelling movie- an engaging political thriller.Fine direction with fascinating cinematography.
amarnaht: #Madras Cafe exceptional movie...serious but gripping one
AlexBrowningWWE: Madras Cafe is A excellent movie which is given 4 out of 5 stars.. Should watch it..! #MadrasCafe
akshayraje: Don't bother if you miss Chennai Express, but make sure to have a sip at Madras Cafe.
adatar: Madras Cafe is definitely one of the better movies of recent times. Recommended once for sure.
aanujsa: so much appreciation as MADRAS CAFE. Way to go Shoojit and John......a good satire on political system...
10uzair: Hat's off to john in an awesome display of actin in Madras cafe after series of melo dramas gt to see an awesome theatre kina movie
05Daulat: Watched #Madras cafe last night superb Movie ,would love to watch it one more time .Very well Directed by shoojit sircar
TrollLad: Saw Madras Cafe, ok types.. John's decent, Fakhri overacted as usual.. Story nice.. Other actors equally nice..
mahaveer_rs: Just watched Madras Cafe. It's more like a documentary. Could've been more gripping.
madarassi: Madras Cafe is no great move. Theek hai, one time watch. What's worth remembering is how terror supporters reacted to it.
gaurinandan: #MadrasCafe may fascinate the festival crowd but it leaves an average film goer unsatisfied.http://gaurinandan.blogspot.in/2013/08/madras-cafe.html
D_Misplaced1: Madras Cafe is a nice attempt and not bad.But it could have been a little more tighter in the screenplay.
BlAxEZaibi: madras cafe Not a bad movie.......
BeingAsghar: madras cafe not bad...one time watch movie...
_Gablu: Madras Cafe, Ok
sundramoorthy3: Madras cafe movie is create bad releation between tamil and Malayalam people's....it's bad one....we r brothers...
sumit_roy_: muddled writing, choppy storytelling & a shockingly bad ensemble performance. Madras Cafe breaks my heart. Superbly shot though.
NaviVupp: Politically incorrect movie and not worth to watch. The reality is far away. Madras Cafe. I give 2/5.
InATizzyWhy: I don't know why madras cafe got such good reviews.
AshnahJones: Madras cafe!!! #okayish #predictable #draggedit #2ndhalf #slept
anantmit: Disappointed with Madras Cafe, could have been so much better.
Want to Watch, by Rahul
Yay! Thumbs Up, by Ak : over all gem with excellent script
Yay! Thumbs Up, by Anant : Awesome cast, direction, action, suspense, thrill. A must watch and must recommend movie of 2013
Yay! Thumbs Up, by Anup : Best by john
Yay! Thumbs Up, by guddu : Madras Cafe
Yay! Thumbs Up, by Nishant Wadhwa
Yay! Thumbs Up, by sudeep : realistic look..excellent peformances.. well reaserched story.. neatly executed.. movie with a diff
This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.