Shoojit Sircar’s third movie after Yahaan and Vicky Donor, Madras Cafe is a mildly absorbing although superficial thriller. The movie that is produced by John Abraham has the Liberation of Tamils Front (LTF) and the Indian government as the two main sides that are at war with each other.
Vikram Singh (John Abraham) is a RAW agent, who has been assigned the task to negotiate the delicate situation across the Indian and Sri Lankan border. India has got itself embroiled in the Sri Lankan civil war between the Sinhalese and the Tamils.
The story runs in flashback mode as Vikram narrates to a priest how the Indian ex-PM’s life could have been saved. This forms the crux of the movie and in the end we are left with just that and nothing substantial in terms of the Indian and LTF struggle.
The casting is inappropriate and one feels that a better actor than John Abraham might have done more justice to the role. The other actors fail to impress too. The character development is not up to the mark. Take for example, Vikram’s wife Ruby (Rashi Khanna) does nothing more than worry about her husband’s safety. Her character is completely one-dimensional. So also many of the other characters, like Jaya (Nargis Fakhri), a war journalist have their respective roles to play but are not projected well enough.
The different locations in the movie seem quite authentic and the movie overall is pretty well shot. In keeping with the theme, there are no songs in the movie. There is just the background score which could have been better. However, even a great score couldn’t have saved the movie from ultimately being just an average thriller. Directing a movie without any songs is quite commendable and one must laud Shoojit Sircar for that.
A meatier story and a well chalked out cast could have done wonders for the movie. The plot wavers from the Sri Lankan struggle to the assassination plot of the Indian ex-PM. This is the main drawback of the movie. It is neither one way nor the other. Madras Cafe is stuck in middle ground. It never leaves a mark on you and getting out of the theatre one is left wondering that why one didn’t get one’s money’s worth with substantial scope in terms of material for the movie to exploit.