Movie: Madras Cafe (2013, Hindi, India)

Movie: Madras Cafe (2013, Hindi, India)

Madras Cafe is a political thriller seen through the eyes of a RAW field operative, set in the middle 1980s (through early 90s) during the ethnic struggle of Tamils in northern Sri Lanka. The movie starts with the peace accord (brokered by India) and traces the behind-the scenes events that lead to the death of the ex-Prime Miniter Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.

Madras Cafe Poster

Directed by Shoojit Sircar
Released in August 2013
Genre Political thriller, espionage
  • John Abraham, as Vikram Singh, a RAW field operative
  • Nargis Fakhri as Jaya Sahni, a British war correspondent of India origin (who speaks English throughout the movie)
  • Siddharth Basu as Robin Dutt, boss of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) who directs the covert operations in Sri Lanka, and mentors Vishal Singh
  • Prakash Belawadi as Bala, Major Vikram Singh’s immediate superior for the asssignement and local RAW team leader based in Jaffna
  • Rashi Khanna as Ruby Singh, wife of Vishal Singh.
Music by Shantanu Moitra
Produced by John Abraham, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, and Ronnie Lahiri
Language Hindi (with a smattering of Tamil and English)
Length 2 hours 10 mins

This movie, released in Aug 2013, received good reviews, but did not last long in theatres – its box-office performance is reported to be “average”.

The Plot

The movie starts with the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord in 1987 aimed to end the Sri Lankan civil war between militant Sri Lankan Tamil nationalists rebels (such as the LTTE) and the Sri Lankan military.

The peace accord is violated and the IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Force) is brutally attacked by the Tamil rebels (who were supposed to be protected by the IPKF). The Indian government attempts to salvage the situation by trying to manipulate various factions of the Tamil rebels, to ensure that the less brutal factions win the planned provincial elections, and continue to be on India’s side.
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Movie: The Lunch Box (2013, Hindi, India)

Movie Review: The Lunch Box (2013)

Lunch Box Poster

Directed by Ritesh Batra
Released May 2013
Genre Romance, Relationships, Art Cinema
Cast Irrfan Khan as Saajan Fernandez, an insurance company officer approaching retirement
Nimrat Kaur as Ila, a homemaker
Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Shaikh, Saajan’s replacement at work
Lillete Dubey as Ila’s mother
Nakul Vaid as Rajiv, Ila’s husband
Music by Max Richter
Produced by Anurag Kashyap, Guneet Monga, Karan Johar, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Arun Rangachari
Language Hindi
Length 1 hour 44 mins

When The Lunch Box was released in India in September 2013, after winning several awards and getting rave reviews from critics, it went on my “must see as quickly as possible” list, especially since the movie had Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the cast. A friend who saw it a few days ago also had some good things to say about it.

And then the controversy about the Oscar nomination for the Best Foreign Film category from India (The Lunch Box did not get selected, a movie titled The Good Road was nominated by the selection committee), whetted my appetite even further. I saw the movie on Sept 28th in a Multiplex in Bangalore.

Please be aware that the review below may contain “spoilers” (i.e., information about the plot of a motion picture or TV program that can spoil a viewer’s sense of surprise or suspense :-)).

The Plot

Saajan Fernandez (played by Irrfan Khan) who works in the Claims Section of a public sector insurance company, is approaching superannuation and is proposing early retirement. He is a crusty widower, a loner, and not very friendly with his colleagues or neighbours. He avoids training and handing over of his duties to his proposed replacement Shaikh (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui).
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Movie: Ek Din Achanak (1989, Hindi, India)

Movie Review: Ek Din Achanak (1989)

Ek Din Achanak is an art film of 1989, based on a Bengali story titled Beej. The movie is directed by veteran Mrinal Sen and has won a lot of awards national and international awards.

Ek Din Achanak Poster

Directed by Mrinal Sen
Released in 1989
Genre Drama, Suspense, Relationships, Art Cinema
Cast Shabana Azmi as Neeta
Shriram Lagoo as Sashank (Professor), Neeta’s father
Uttara Baokar as Neeta’s mother
Aparna Sen as Aparna, a student of Professor
Roopa Ganguly as Seema, Neeta’s younger sister
Arjun Chakraborthy as Amit, Neeta’s brother
Manohar Singh as Neeta’s uncle
Music by Jyotishka Dasgupta
Produced by N.F.D.C.
Language Hindi
Length 1 hour 45 mins

The Plot

One rainy day, when the streets of Kolkatta are flooded, Shashank, a retired professor (played by Shriram Lagoo) steps out of his middle class house for a walk and does not return. His family – comprising his wife (played by Uttara Baokar), his elder daughter Neeta (Shabana Azmi), younger daughter Seema (Roopa Ganguly), and son Amit (Arjun Chakraborthy) tensely wait for him to return and start the process of tracing him after a day or so, by contacting hospitals, informing the police, enquiring with acquaintances, and so on.
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Movie: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013, Hindi, India)

Movie Review: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)

Bhag Milkha Bhag is a biopic based on the life of the Indian 400 meters Olympian Milkha Singh, who won many international races and held records in the late 1950s to early 1960s.

Bhag Milkha Bhag Poster
Directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Released in 2013
Cast Farhan Akhtar as Milkha Singh (Adult)
Japtej Singh as Milkha Singh (Child)
Divya Dutta as Isri Kaur (Milkha’s Sister)
Soonam Kapoor as Biro (Milkha’s romantic interest)
Pawan Malhotra as Gurudev Singh (Milkha’s army coach)
Yograj Singh as Ranveer Singh (Indian National Coach)
Prakash Raj as tough army officer (Milkha’s army officer)
Dalip Tahil as Jawaharlal Nehru (Prime Minister of India)
K K Raina as Wadhwa (Bureaucrat)
Music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Produced by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra & Viacom
Language Hindi
Length 3 hours 10 mins

The Story

The film starts with the 1960 Rome Olympics, where Milkha Singh (played by Farhan Akhtar)  is leading a pack of elite runners in the 400 meters final. Something happens as he hears his coach shout “bhag Milkha, bhag” – he slows down and looks back, comes fourth and misses a podium finish.
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