Madras Cafe : Bollywood Action Movie Review

A poster of Madras Cafe
A poster of Madras Cafe | Source

Madras Cafe is a Bollywood action and spy movie, starring John Abraham, Nargis Fakhri, Rashi Khanna and many others. This film is based on real happening in India and Shi Lanka during 1980-1990.

This is a must watch film for all those who like to see films related to war, spying, action, thrills, politics, journalism, and off course realistic Hindi movies.

This Hindi movie is a different from most of the Hindi action films. It does not entertain traditional things which masses love to watch on screen like love, love songs and Masala. The director of this film is serious about the content of this film, and have presented it in serious way.

Circumstances: Civil War in Sri Lanka and India's Role

The film is based on the backdrop of civil war in Sri Lanka which broke up in 1983. The rebels wanted to form an independent state. To end the civil war, India sent its armed force (IPKF, Indian Peace Keeping Force) to this neighboring island in 1987. The intention was peace keeping without involving in conflicts, but within a few months the situation changed and IPKF had to fought many battles with the rebels. This turned into a full pledged war against rebels, involving 100000+ men of IPKF, Indian Army's Air Assault Division, Armored Regiments, Infantries, Mountain Divisions and Paramilitary Forces. Indian Air Force and India Navy also had to help the land forces.

Around 1200 IPKF men were killed in the war, many thousands were injured. On the other side, about 11000 rebels were killed.

RAW, India's external intelligence agency failed to co-ordinate with IPKF which resulted setbacks and heavy losses of IPKF men.

Although India got a tactical success, the rebels took a revenge by assassinating Rajiv Gandhi, the then Indian Prime Minister of India. This was a turning point in modern history of India.

Storyline of Madras Cafe

Based on above backdrop, the story of this film is a superb fusion of facts and fiction.

Research and Analysis Wing Sends Major Vikram Singh to Jaffna on a covert mission. Jaffna is the stronghold of Anna, the Supremo of rebels. Major Vikram Singh's mission is to weaken Anna. He uses various tactics but his plans are leaked.

Major Vikram Sing meets a British journalist in Jaffna who wanted to find the truth behind the Civil war. With the journalist's help, the RAW officer uncovers a conspiracy to assassinate then Prime Minister of India.

What happens next? What happens in the entire film? I resist myself from telling you more about the story. The film is full of conspiracies, treachery, setbacks and losses. I do not want to reveal the horrible things in the story.

This is a 'Must Watch' movie and I am sure it will not disappoint you.

What I Liked in this Movie?

First of all, unlike most of the other Hindi movies, this movie concentrate on the story without diverting it to other sub stories.

The story and actions are down to earth. Unlike other movies, there are no shouting dialogues. There is no typical heroine who loves the hero. The heroine is there just to do her journalism job and return to her homeland.

Selection of actor is great. Instead of selecting famous actors, the director has selected less known or new faces. Except the hero, most of the faces are unknown to the audience. As the people in the story are from bigger geographical area and distinct linguistic and ethnic groups, the director has selected that type of actors. Further, the accents of Hindi language changes according to the characters.

According to my knowledge, this is first time when a great film has a Christian hero in the story. Although his name is Major Vikram Sing, we get to know that he is a Christian while the story moves forward. This is a good sign as most of the Hindi war movies have a so called patriotic but Hindu touch, having a compulsory Hindu character as the hero.

The film keeps itself away from patriotism, hatred against enemy, glorification of army and nation, justification of war etc.

There are few battles in the movie, but all of them are horrible.

All these things are a sign of Hindi movies becoming mature.

Of course, such type of films are not for masses.

A scene from the movie

A scene from Hindi spy movie Madras Cafe
A scene from Hindi spy movie Madras Cafe

Cast and Crew

John Abraham, the famous actor and a producer of Bollywood has played the main character's role in Madras Cafe. He plays Major Vikram Singh in this film.

Nargis Fakhri is Jaya Sahni in the film. She has played the role of a British war journalist in Sri Lanka.

Rashi Khanna has played role of the wife of Major Vikram Singh.

Beside these three main characters, others include Siddharth Basu, (a key bureaucrat of RAAW), Ajay Rathnam (Anna Bhaskaran, leader of rebels in Sri Lanka), Prakash Belwadi, Tinu Menachery, Agnello Dias, Piyush Pandey and hundreds of junior artists.

The film is directed by Shoojit Sircar, and John Abraham himself is the Producer.

The story is written by Somnath Dey and Shubendu Bhattacharya, while dialogues are written by Juhi Chaturvedi.

Reviews and Ratings

Let us see what famous film critics say about Madras Cafe:

Madras Cafe dives boldly into terrain Bollywood hasn't touched before. Its arsenal features research, respect and bravely, no songs. Political, tense, finally explosive, Madras Cafe is no picnic in the neighborhood park -Srijana Mitra Das in Times of India

Madras Café works as an effective portrait of the futility of war.I recommend you make time for it- Anupama Chopra in Hindustan Times

It’s a brave plot in our politically hyper-sensitive times. One hopes this movie begins a trend in mainstream Hindi cinema -Akshaya Mishra in First Post

Irresistible stuff if you love brain work in your movies -Vinayak Chakravorty in India Today

Madras Cafe is a swift, smart and serious study of an inglorious chapter of history -Sukanya Verma on Rediff.com

Madras Cafe : Exclusive Interview of John Abraham & Nargis Fakhri

Official Trailer of Madras Cafe

© 2013 Mahaveer Sanglikar

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Comments 4 comments

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 3 years ago from India

Interesting review. Looks like it will be different from the stereotype Hindi film. I am yet to watch this.

Voted up and shared.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

An interesting review of a film I have been wanting to see. Remains to be seen how near to reality the actual storyline is!

Voted up, interesting and shared.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Very good review, Jainismus....hopefully I can catch this on DVD at some point in the future.


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

No singing and no dancing certainly set this film apart from the usual Bollywood releases, Jainismus. Thanks for the interesting review.

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