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Madras Café Review: John Abraham can't act but go watch it!

Directed by Shoojit Sircar, Madras Café, stars John Abraham and Nargis Fakhri in lead roles. The backdrop of this film catapults you straight into the centre of the civil war in Sri Lanka during the 1990s. As a film viewer from South India, I do not feel that the movie attempted to ridicule or insult Tamilians as is being suggested by many. The narrative is conducted as neutrally as possible and with tremendous sensitivity.

You will be gripped by an overwhelming sense of anger, despair and pain as you are taken through some heart rending scenes of how the Tamils were persecuted in Sri Lanka
Some of the most disturbing scenes in the movie present a very different view of India’s political endeavors to manipulate and take control of the ethnic conflicts between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil population there. 
It also shows how vested powers from across the globe strategically pushed forward their vested economic interests to end India’s ‘peace’ attempts by masterminding the assassination plot of India’s former PM at the time – Rajiv Gandhi.
What I liked most about Madras Café is that it portrays a highly sensitive issue such as the ethnic persecution of Tamils and the dynamics that led the LTTE to plot the PM’s assassination without any attempt to cater to any particular section of the audience. 
The film does make a sincere attempt to take a neutral and objective stand on the incidents that led up to the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi including the portrayal of the team that prepares itself to do so – there is no condemning of their acts or any attempt to kick up political mileage of the same. 
Madras Café Review: John Abraham can’t act!
John Abraham dons the role of Vikram Singh, who is a member of India’s intelligence service and he is deputed to Sri Lanka to help the two warring factions reach a peaceful resolution that suits India’s political interests. Nargis Fakhri plays the role of a war journalist whose reach is far and wide and whose network sources seem to be more accurate and advanced than India’s top intelligence agencies.
The first glitch is this – From the initial scenes to the last scenes in the movie, John Abraham disappoints totally. A drunken, disheveled John Abraham who relates the most shocking episodes of his life to a priest fails to impress. He fails to act unless you count wooden expressions behind cooling glasses as ‘acting’! His brief stunt as a drunken man is such a dud that you want to throw up. He cannot convince anyone that he is working for RAW – his expressions, body language and dialogue delivery are so pathetic that you would want to cry in despair at a fine film being torn to shreds by an actor’s inability to act. 
Perhaps an actor like Abhay Deol or Arjun Rampal may have elevated this film to a masterpiece with some brilliant portrayal.
The second glitch is this – poor star cast. This film has all the right ingredients except the star cast. 

Even Siddharth Basu disappoints in his portrayal of the character he is playing. No actor in this film except perhaps the actor who plays the role of “Bala” stands out as a striking performance.
Madras Café Review: My Verdict
The much talked about issue of how Madras Café has portrayed LTTE is really going over the top. The LTTE seem like a bunch of Robin Hoods in this film as compared to the reality of what things were like at the time. So this is what I have to say– the Tamils shouldn’t take this movie as anything than what it is – a thriller movie.
While Madras Cafe has not shown us the complete story, it attempts to do so with sensitive restraint and without putting us through unnecessary songs or ‘masala’ scenes.
I’d rate Madra Café as a movie that attempts and fails at giving us serious portrayal of Indo-Sri lankan political history.
At many levels, the movie will shake you up – but it won’t topple you down. The star cast lets you down but the narrative, the plot and the storytelling doesn't. Go watch it!

Comments

Friendship SMS said…
Sometimes, you need a good director to extract out the best from an actor, who is praised for everything except acting skills. Madras Cafe has been made in such a way that it has extracted the best out of John, perhaps for the first time, who is often praised for his physique and looks rather than acting skills. Even, Nargis manages for deliver a good performance in this excellently told story. A must watch for the connoisseur of good movies make such bold subject oriented films succeed commercially as well, which are usually and unfortunately not given their due. Well done MC team!
@Friendship: Thanks for reading this review and for sharing your thoughts on it. The good thing about books and movies is that we all relate and experience it differently even when the content is the same. Madras Cafe has attempted to extract the best out of John and I agree on that point. Where I differ is that I am more certain that while John gave it his best shot, a better and more talented actor would have done more justice to this movie. But hey, thanks a ton for stopping by to comment. I appreciate it.