What do you think makes a good movie? And what are the side effects of watching a great movie?
Is a movie good when it makes you laugh? Makes you cry? Perhaps makes you feel a range of emotions? A movie with colorful characters and beautiful locations may be? What about the music, song and dance? Or may be a good movie is the one that takes you away from daily grind and gives you a break that you think you deserve…. But, once in a while there comes a movie that challenges all of your definitions and assumptions, makes you stop and take stock of what you look for in a movie, possibly changes the way you look at cinema experience. For me, that’s what Madras Café did.
I went to movies after a long time. And watching Madras Café was more of a convenience that of choice. It was the only movie that was available in the time slot that I could go. I had heard rave reviews of the movie and John Abraham’s new found acting skills. But as usual, I wasn't expecting the reviews to be accurate. I was in for a surprise this time.
If I use words like realistic and heart-wrenching, it would be an insult to the movie. The movie is anything but heart-wrenching. What it is, is mind-numbing. The movie walks you through the times and lives of people during the 80's Sri Lanka. I’m not very good with politics, has never been. So, pardon me if I don’t use real names of people that are portrayed in the movie. But just because I don’t know the names or don’t wanna utter them, does not by any means reduce the intensity and sincerity with which they are portrayed. They are as real as one might see in a documentary. They are real because they are clear in what they represent. For example, Anna in the movie is not a traditional villain. He is not a garishly dressed, loud mouthing and laughing person who captures the hero and spills all his plans to him. In contrast, he is a well attired, soft spoken, clear sighted person who knows what he wants. There is an uncanny realism in his speech. Like the foreign reporter says to John… “He has clarity in thoughts. He is not just a power crazy terrorist.” Where Anna portrays the unrelenting idealist; John and the rest of the team plays a dedicated and smart team of RAW agents who dedicate their time and skills in protecting the country. The sheer amount of work and complexity of challenges that are shown in the movie take your breath away. And you are left with an awe-struck feeling of helplessness.