John Abraham Convincing as a Spy | Madras Cafe Movie Review

On the performances front, John Abraham can be a special mention. What else is there, read the Madras Cafe movie review.


Being born in late 80’s meant being witness to brutality and violence in Sri Lanka in early nineties (courtesy Doordarshan). Watching the movie “MADRAS CAFE” in a way made me relive the same days. Yes, the movie I watched last week, dealt with the same subject and the basic plot of Madras Cafe is the killing of an Ex- Prime Minister of India (read Rajeev Gandhi) .

The Movie:

Madras Cafe is the second joint venture between John Abraham and Soojit Sircar. The first one was the critically acclaimed, Vicky Donor. That apart, Director Soojit Sircar’s first movie Yahaan made an equally great impression with the audience.

Under this light, an average movie lover, particularly of that sort of movie making, had big expectations from the movie. Post 2005, many of these film makers are celebrities in their own right. An increasing number of movie lovers, not only go to theaters for the lead actors, but also for their favorite Directors. A great offering once, raises the expectations for the next.

John Abraham Convincing as a Spy | Madras Cafe Movie ReviewFor me, Director Soojit Sircar has once again hit a Home Run. Madras Cafe is a different movie from Sircar’s previous two, but it establishes him once again as a fine movie maker.

Madras Cafe explores the political scene in India in the back drop of serious situation in Sri Lanka. The lead role in the movie is played by John Abraham. John is playing the character named Vikram, a military officer working in RAW( Research and Analysis Wing) and leading covert operations in Sri Lanka, especially Jaffana and Northern Sri Lanka.

The plot has all the ingredients to make Madras Cafe a realistic representation of late 80s and early 90s Sri Lanka. Hence you can see a character inspired by late LTTE Chief Prabhakaran, an ex PM of India (read Rajeev Gandhi) and more. Giving some head space to creative liberty, the character resembling to Prabhakaran is named Anna, and leads a violent separation movement in civil war rattled Island nation.

Madras Cafe broadly tries to establish one thing: India had vested interests in the political and civil situation in Sri Lanka. Indian Government’s decision to send Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to Sri Lanka was an attempt to bring a political solution to the ethnic problem.

After establishing the basic plot, the movie proceeds to a high intensity drama when Anna refuses to surrender to Indian forces. In the back of the mind, Indian Government by then starts comparing its efforts in Sri Lanka with the ones US had in Vietnam. And in the midst this uneasiness, the plot sees the entry of Vikram, RAW’s under cover agent.

What happens next? Well See the movie. To motivate you, the John Abraham’s entry in the plot sees all sort of masala such as honey trap, conspiracy, Western Powers, power groups , information leakage etc. You also see the assassination of an Indian PM (resemblance with Rajeev Gandhi ?)

The Review:

Of late, the spy movies from Bollywood are being seen from the Agent Vinod, Ek Tha Tiger type movies’ perspective. That’s laden with romance, peppy dance number, item songs, and stupidly behaving actor. Madras Cafe doesn’t have all this stuff.

Every character, every dialogue, every action sequence appears justifying the seriousness of the plot. The movie is well paced and gives you no opportunity to glance away from the screen.

Overall the director has done good research on the subject. And this is reflected in the plot and the performances of the actors etc.

Cinetomographyby Kamaljeet Negi is remarkable.This is evident in the moving shots. The background music score (a trend made poplar by Oscar Winning Slum-dog Millionaire) by Shantanu Moitra brings out the tension in scenes quite effectively.

The movie has some non-actors as well. The Siddharth Basu look alike in the movie, is the real Siddhartha Basu – the ace quiz master of India. Basu has played the role of RAW Chief. He’s quite convincing. Debang, the once Head of NDTV Indian, has also made a debut with Madras Cafe. He’s playing an ex Spy turned Informer.

On the performances front, John Abraham can be a special mention. His performance as a RAW Agent stands apart. Overall he knows his limitations as an actor and thus takes full use of  the positives. On thing which particularly impresses is his body language for the role. Fitting just perfectly in the role, John’s character flawlessly mingles in any crowd; a necessary trait for any Spy.


Madras Cafe is not same as Chennai Express. In order to appreciate Madras Cafe, you need to have a taste for such movies.

My Rating for Madras Cafe: 4 out of 5 Stars.


Editor’s Recommendation: One John Abraham movie which reflects his acting potential is “Jhoota Hi Sahi”. The movie is worth a watch.