This weekend’s big release will be Madras Café, the John Abraham and Nargis Fakhri starrer directed by Shoojit Sircar. It is currently in the news because of the protests and litigation that have called for the banning of the film. Since the film depicts the Sri Lankan Civil War and the still unresolved Tamil issue, many groups have protested against the film, particularly the depiction of the LTTE in the film. Many are calling the film anti-Tamil and the trailer of Madras Café has garnered many hate comments as well on its Youtube page as well.
However John Abraham who is not only the lead actor but also the producer of the film has called for people, particularly people from Chennai to support the movie as a novel and entertaining film made with a lot of heart.
Reportedly Vaiko’s MDMK and now the BJP have called for a national ban on the film. This demand is based on the currently anti-Lankan atmosphere where political parties are also calling for the boycott of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held at Colombo. Protesters feel that there could be a negative fallout of the movie’s screening and also feel that LTTE have been portrayed in a harsh light.
As of now I am free to purchase tickets for the film so the protests have so far yielded no results. It could be a mere coincidence but all films that raise such significant amounts of controversy have very good openings, so this could well be a blessing in disguise for the makers of Madras Café.
Release date: 23rd August
Starring: John Abraham, Nargis Fakhri, Rashi Khanna, Ajay Rathnam, Siddharth Basu, Piyush Pandey
Direction/Production: Shoojit Sircar/John Abraham, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Ronnie Lahiri
John Abraham plays Vikram Singh, an Indian army officer from RAW carrying out covert operations in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. Nargis Fakhri plays Jaya a war correspondent from the UK covering the situation there. The story is about the interplay between the rebels, freedom furthers and the IPKF. The director claims to want to tell the story of intelligence officers as ordinary people not as heroes out of fancy Bond films.Well that’s a relief – India’s answer to James Bond in the form of Agent Vinod was not exactly the stuff of celluloid legend.
From the trailer – with its brutal visuals, ominous music and highly charged scenes it seems obvious that this is not meant to be a family entertainer, but rather a hard hitting dramatic portrayal of a very serious issue.
It should be interesting to see two extremely good-looking lead actors together – the brawny John Abraham and the beauteous Nargis Fakhri, who incidentally speaks in her own voice and with her own accent in the film. Both actors are very easy on the eye and credible if not spectacular in the histrionics department. Model Rashi Khanna makes her debut in the film as Abraham’s wife. Ajay Rathnam seems modeled loosely on LTTE leader Prabhakaran. Siddharth Basu is a key RAW bureaucrat and Piyush Pandey plays an Indian Cabinet Secretary.
As for director Shoojit Sircar, TV commercial maker, producer and director, his previous films Yahaan (a lovely film made in 2005 starring Jimmy Shergil and Minissha Lamba focusing on the love story of an Indian army officer and a Kashmiri girl), Vicky Donor (a highly entertaining film with an important social message starring Ayushman Khurana) lead us to believe that Madras Café should be the thing to do this weekend. Also in the pipeline is a Sircar’s other film entitled Shoebite starring Amitabh Bachchan; which however is currently stalled. By all accounts, Madras Café could be well worth the watch.