Well, John should have courted the Tamils too to have a smooth overall release. John has broken some records too in his political endeavor. He comes across as a fine actor, who was hiding behind the nonsensical masala films but had given enough glimpses of an actor in Water (2005) and New York (2009). He also came across as a bold producer, who refused to give in to political bullying in Tamil Nadu.
I personally am against bullying of any kind. Cinema is a public domain of creativity and let the public decide where the movie stands instead of some "all-knowing" politico dictating the terms for it's non-release.
Major Vikram Singh (John Abraham) is a RAW agent, who is assigned to go to Jaffana (Sri Lanka) to help bring political stability. He has a tough job apprehending Anna Bhaskaran (Ajay Ratnam), leader of a Tamil outfit LTF. In the course of his assignment, he meets Jaya Sahni (Nargis Fakhri) who is a British war correspondent. And slowly the plot unfolds. It is not only the war and political situation but there is a sinister plot of assassinating the former Prime Minister of India (Sanjay Gurbaxani).
The plot has been hatched out sitting in a Madras Cafe. And before our RAW agent can safeguard him, fate intervenes. Unable to bear this failure, the agent hits the bottle. The movie unfolds in a flashback with the agent relating it all to a church pastor. Factual liberties have been taken but they certainly don't matter. What matters is that the movie is a taut spy thriller. Never in its entire length does one feel out of sync with the happenings.
Nargis Fakhri speaks in English but there is thoughtful sub-titling. Cinematography brings out the lush green scenery. The action scenes leave one right in the midst of battlefield. How realistic can a movie get? There are three mesmerizing songs that reflect on the ongoing happenings in the movie. Ajnabi tugs at the heart-strings, Sun le zara is effective in the war zone and Khud Se is like a dialogue with oneself.
The actors chosen to play LTTE leader V Prabhakarn (Ajay Ratnam) and Rajiv Gandhi (Sanjay Gurbaxani) need special mention as they bear uncanny resemblance to the characters they play. Anita Pratap too would be left comparing her life with Nargis's portrayal. The cast has been aptly chosen and they infuse life in their roles.
Yes, unnecessary political controversy created will certainly dent the box office collections but the question is hasn't this controversy also deprived the viewers to watch a well-executed movie that brings alive a crucial part of India's political history and shows a snuffed out young political life? It is definitely not the movie's loss but of the viewers. It goes without saying the movie will win many awards in the coming days.
What is equally important is John has opened the door for other SAARC nations to relate their histories. He is a harbinger to change that brings in intelligent movies. Once in a while you watch such RAW and rustic movies that it is almost rare. After watching Madras Cafe, it is time to christen John as Madras Abraham. Hats off.