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[Movie Review] Madras Cafe

“Criticizing national politics does not make you anti-national”, says the British war correspondent in SriLanka – Jaya Sahni (played by Nargis Fakhri) to the protagonist Vikram (played by John Abraham) an Indian army special officer, giving a hint to audience that this is not a movie made to praise army or blame politicians but to show the bitter truths of war. We rarely get to see any filmmaker in Bollywood making a political thriller, this film definitely stands out as its been inspired from all real incidents that brought India and SriLanka on tenterhooks, how Indian politics suddenly took a sharp turn and it paid price in form of assassination of its former Prime Minister. Interestingly director does not take sides, as he makes the conspiracy clear to the end that when two nations are confronting it is not just two forces but there are lot of other external forces acting from behind in their vested interests and how such interventions can change the world history.


The story is mainly based on SriLankan Civil war during 1980s which was never touched upon by Bollywood earlier. The movie begins with the disturbing scenes of war crimes and deaths in Jaffna area in the northern part of SriLanka. Then director unfolds the historic events of Indian Peace Keeping forces going to SriLanka, drives us through the political mistakes and military misunderstandings, the conspiracy woven by few foreign powers and how India fell in trap that LTF (a rebel group, inspired from LTTE) which was actually supported by India all of a sudden became its staunch enemy and started operating against Indian peace keeping forces. The LTF leader Anna Bhaskaran (inspired from LTTE Prabhakaran) is only concerned about Srilankan Tamils and he will fight till they obtain freedom, but can India afford it?

Vikram is an Indian Army officer who is chosen by RAW for a covert operation in Jaffna where the situation was going out of control. Vikram gets a team and given a mission but after going to Jaffna he realises the enemy in not outside but he may need to fight within. He meets Jaya, the British journalist, who helps him understand that the fight is not confined to few people but there are some influential people involved in the conspiracy. As Vikram tries to unravel the conspiracy of so called West, he finds about assassination plan of Indian former Prime Minister. Can he save the Prime Minister?

Casting has been chosen cleverly to make the characters look real as many were new faces or not so known except John Abraham, who carries the whole weight on him as story rotates between Jaffna, Kerala, Delhi, and Bangkok. Nargis Fakhri looks convincing as a British war correspondent, speaking only English in British accent. Other actors gave decent performances, two of them stand out – one is Rashi Khanna as Vikram’s wife Ruby who impresses both with her innocent looks and acting, other is Kannada stage actor Prakash Belawadi as Bala, Major Vikram Singh’s superior in Jaffna who succeeded to make an impression in the minds of audience in a peculiar character role.

The director Shoojit Sircar’s research gets reflected on screen in unfolding history. Movie lacks any twists or Bollywood style action sequences but still keeps you hooked with a fast paced narration. Apart from being a spy thriller, the movie makes one to ponder on how politics are actually played in international sphere that life of even national heads come at stake. Surprisingly, not just India lost its former Prime Minister but it lost the trust of its neighbour too and till now India-Srilanka relations have become no better. Though director claimed it as a work of fiction, it is known and commendable to make a movie on troublesome events of history which India would prefer to forget.


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