Good Cinema is rare to come by and Madras Cafe was a movie that was not only quality cinema but also very informative which delivered a concrete message in its own unique style. To me, it was a movie I would recall for a long time as I was immensely touched, in the manner in which it was made and how it conveyed a strong message about the essence of humanity.
It begins with a harrowed looking John Abraham –aka Major Vikram wrapped in morose and disgust, sharing his thoughts with the church priest. He confides in him, his innermost angst and emotion and expresses his concern of the excessive amount of ‘Fear and Greed ‘that we humans are exposed to. With deeper interrogation by the priest, John starts narrating his tale and the rest is history.
John Abraham i.e Major Vikram was a major in the Indian army, who was dispatched to Jaffna , an area in the Eastern part of Sri-Lanka to take control of the situation which was going out of hand on account of the upheaval and mayhem caused by ( Anna Bhaskaran , the LTF chief ) – fictional name for LTTE . The set up is a little beyond post `1987 , wherein the LTF was fighting for a separate province of its own and waging war against the Sinhalese and creating ruckus with the normal civilians. The intent was to create a separate the rights of the minority i.e the Tamilians. In this situation India was forced to intrude as there was a major influx of Sri-Lankans (refugees) into India and this needed to be stopped.
At this juncture, the Indian govt was keen on the provincial elections in Sri- Lanka taking place and hoped that the opposition leader of LTF could be taken into confidence. However this attempt failed and had to look into ways to dismantle the situation. The military forces of India had failed to take control with LTF and thus looked further into creating ways with its intel team i.e R&AW. Major Vikram was chosen for this assignment and had to work with Robin, Head of Intel in Sri-Lanka. However, turns out the there was leak in information and Robin turned out to be a traitor which proves to be an expensive deal for the Indian Govt.
The plot also brings in a foreign element with people from Bangkok, Singapore, US etc who were keen on supporting the LTF due to vested interests in the strategic location of Sri-Lanka with access to the Indian Ocean and its bounties (My presumption here). The LTF gains more traction due to the support of arms and ammunition from this foreign aid. The arms sent by the Indian government for Indian army purpose was too hijacked the LTF.
In the interim John becomes a threat to the LTF as he managed to garner pivotal information which thereafter led to brutal killing of his wife. This pushes John to further get to the root of crisis and expresses his wish of de-coding this entire trap to the, then President. With his trusted sources, he’s able to track foreign communication and de-codes the on-coming assassination of the ex-PM who was standing for elections and had taken a strong resolve to end the woeful story of Sri-Lanka. This propelled the LTF head to execute a plan on killing him.
John managed to track this information which was communicated to the Indian Govt who was then helpless with limitations in provision of the security. The ex-PM chose to ignore the information and go ahead with his rallies for the upcoming elections.
At the rally in Tamil Nadu, a well trained suicide bomber and her team managed to blow up the area leading to the assassination of the Ex-PM (Then Rajiv Gandhi) and lives of many innocent people. With that the movie ended, ushering in John in the same spot in the church still morose but with the hope that things will change.
MOVIE MAKING: - The movie is directed by Shoojit Sircar, maker of Vicky Donor and produced by John Abraham. Together they conceptualised a fast moving gripper, getting people glued to their seats without wanting to budge. The beauty of the movie lied in the way they communicated so much of information in a unique style without being too blatant or loud about sensitive issues. The cinematography was brilliant which was dabbled in places i.e Sri-Lanka, India and Bangkok- Singapore. The places were beautifully captured with great clarity in nuances and the feel given was completely of the 1980’s and 1990’s. The fresh faces used in the movie made it look even more realistic with John carrying the movie beautifully on his shoulders as protagonist. The sequencing was good, must say every moment was captivating with second half being fast paced and interesting. What I cannot miss out on is the script, which was witty, flawless interjected with intelligent timely lines that were very though provoking. In a nutshell, a very well researched movie which conveyed all the events in a crisp duration of 120 mins. The movie left people thinking.
Take Away: - What stood out for me in this movie was the beginning and end. The end was with John quoting Rabindranath Tagore’s famous lines on; “where the mind is without fear”. This conveyed the intent of disseminating a fearless attitude on sacrificing for the country and taking up the right steps for the betterment of the nation. The movie appealed to my sensibilities, as I learnt about the whole of era of the Sri- Lankan Civil war which ran into long 26 years leading to killing about at least a lakh of civilians. It is a strong message to everyone on how wars lead to only destruction and peace should be maintained for the greater good of the society. It is an indirect hint to the politicians and decision makers on how to ignore their vested interest, abandon greed and look into the welfare of the common people. This take away upgrades the movie to a new level and places it in the niche segment of ‘Must Watch’.
DISCLAIMER : The interpretations are solely my opinion and I am strongly opinionated . Also very delayed re-view , but I knew I had to write this one. Intended for it to be a mix of the story and my interpretation of the movie. Cheers :)