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Friday, 23 August 2013

Madras Café (Hindi 2013)

I think I had my typewriting class on the 22nd May 1991 around 9 am.  I was eager to attend because I was struggling to get the hang of it.  But when I stepped out of home (and I hadn’t read the newspaper that morning) I was greeted by empty streets.  I walked all the way to the station only to be greeted by silence.  It was only about 20 minutes later when I got back home that I realized what had happened less than 12 hours back.

Those who were around at that time know what I am talking about.  Those who weren’t, can look into their history books because it was one of the darkest days in the history of this country.  I would have expected Shoojit Sircar (fresh off the success of Vicky Donor) to have done more justice to a man who was arguably the harbinger of change into this country.  Sadly, he turns it into yet another mockery.

A Major in the Indian Army, Vikram Singh (John Abraham) is roped in for a covert operation in Sri Lanka as part of the RAW.  His mission is to infiltrate the rebel army and cause a rift in the line of power so that the rebels can self destruct.  He lands up doing everything but that.  He also gets caught in the bargain and is saved, only to go back pretending as a news reporter – in Sircar’s world, all this is a walk in the park.

He also, happens to meet an international Indian journalist Maya Sahni (Nargis Fakhri) who is dressed like Maddy Bowen in Blood Diamond but shows a bit more cleavage through her maroon wife beater vest.  She also happens to speak only in English (Thank God!!!) but for some reason Vikram speaks to her in Hindi only.  There is no justification given for the same but as I said, it happens in Sircar’s world.

Of course, in Sircar's world, RAW Agents dress up in jazzy denim and speak in Hindi and don’t get caught in the bargain either.  In Sircar’s world, things of utmost importance cannot be spoken over the phone but can wait for 2 days when Maya will travel from London to Delhi.  In Sircar’s world, Tamil refugees coincidentally have developed a Malayalam accent.  Of course.  Cochin is closer than Chennai.

Horrible editing, disastrous work with the sound, dialogues that inspire no confidence and a script / story that is absolutely baseless ensure that Sircar’s follow up to Vicky Donor is just about short of a disaster.  To his credit, he at least pays attention to some details to recreate props from 1991 such as VHS Tapes, manual telephone exchanges, green screen computers and dot matrix printers.

But there is no other aspect that makes any sense.  Nothing is logical or sensibly arranged.  It was as if, “I have tried my hand at comedy, it worked.  So let me try my hand at a Political Espionage Drama revolving around the assassination of one of our most preferred Prime Ministers.  It should work.  No”?

No comments on the performances but I wasn’t expecting anything great.  John Abraham is sincere as always but this is as much as he can deliver.  Nargis Fakhri thankfully doesn’t have too much of screen time.  Siddhartha Basu & Piyush Pandey appear lost more often than not.  Disappointed, both with the effort and a wasted opportunity to tell a story that most of India would have been eager to know about.  4 on 10.

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