Even as controversies and chaos surround the screening of Shoojit Sircar's Madras Cafe, the film has opened up countrywide, except Tamil Nadu. Interestingly this John Abraham-starrer has impressed most of the critics. Read what they have to say.
Plot: An Indian army officer is sent to Sri Lanka on a covert mission. A chance meeting with a journalist leads him to some information that will change the course of his life.
The story and direction have particularly impressed the critics.
Film critic Saibal Chatterjee (NDTV) feels that Madras Cafe is a sinewy and riveting espionage thriller - one that balances acts between staying true to recent geopolitical history and the need to serve up an imagined, dramatised spy story. Chatterjee writes, "He succeeds on both counts. At no point does Madras Cafe appear to be in danger of losing its balance and plummeting into a void."
Film critic Mayank Shekhar (W14) agrees, "This is probably the first Bollywood film that looks closely at India's political involvement outside of its own shores. The director ably spins this as a war film, visually referenced to near perfection, yet scales things down to the details of a tight espionage thriller set among R&AW agents between Jaffna and New Delhi."
Akshay Mishra writes for Firstpost, "The shift in genre - Donor was a rom-com, Madras Cafe qualifies as a suspense thriller - does not dilute any of his defining traits."
Srijana Mitra Das writes for Times Of India, "Madras Cafe's true star is its story which builds up to an agonizing end. It brings to life the Lankan war which many viewers were too young to have known. It highlights India's ambiguous role, moving sensitively, taking no sides, except those of relationships involving respect - but no romance - between Vikram and Jaya, duty, victory and loss."
The critics are also raving about the performances in the film.
Das writes, "John stays low-key and competent as Vikram while supporting actors, like agents Bala, SP and Vasu, stand out. Restrained performances by the LTF suicide bombers are chilling."
Saibal Chatterjee writes, "John Abraham, cast against type, throws all his weight behind the character of the R&AW agent who loses more than he gains in the line of duty. As an actor, he comes up trumps. Nargis Fakhri, playing a journo who converses only English, strikes the right notes. Debutante Rashi Khanna makes an impact in a brief but significant appearance as the army man's wife. The other characters that complete the canvas - sundry secret agents, soldiers, militants and bureaucrats - are all identifiable figures who look and sound like real people."
Talking about the protests that stalled the screening of Madras Cafe in Tamil Nadu, Mayank Shekhar says: "The film doesn't delve into strong connections between Tamil Nadu mainstream politicians and the banned militant outfit either, so I am not sure exactly what the rag-tag groups in Chennai have been protesting against this film about-that the LTTE killed Rajiv Gandhi? They should be arguing with the Supreme Court."
Mayank Shekhar concluded his review thus: "This film doesn't conclusively establish a new angle or fresh motive behind Rajiv Gandhi's death, besides merely pointing towards western corporate interests. But it makes you search deeper. It's been over 22 years since. Who the hell gained so much from Rajiv's assassination? The LTTE is practically defunct now. After the film, we sat and discussed these things for a couple of hours. I've bookmarked a few articles on the web already, can't remember the last time a Bollywood film made me do that."
Madras Café has been applauded by most celebs in the industry.
Abhishek Bachchan: "Saw Madras Cafe last night. Well done @TheJohnAbraham @NargisFakhri and Shoojit. Such a well made film!"
Irrfan Khan: "Madras caffe is volatile piece of indian history, it left me stunned.The director's integrity shines like diamond. Torch bearer 4 our cinema. Outstanding film. Very moving. Congrats to the entire team! Go in numbers n make it a huge success ."
Ayushmann Khurrana: "#MadrasCafe mastercraftsmaship by @ShoojitSircar, very real performance by @TheJohnAbraham, well written by @writeonj. A gripping docu-drama.
Uday Chopra: "Saw #MadrasCafe a superb movie! Very intelligently made, taking a historical event and creating a story around it…must watch…well done!!"
Yaami Gautam : "Watched #Madras cafe last night &I urge everyone to watch it too.Felt extremely proud as Indian."
Have you watched Madras Cafe yet? Share your views in the comment box below.