Sometimes you just earnestly wish that some movies become classics but those just flatter to deceive you because of a few bad choices. Madrasapattinam is one of that.
From the title slides which have a stark resemblance to the title card sequence of Lagaan, you just get reminded of Titanic all through the movie but Madrasapattinam’s uniqueness stays with the technical wizardry and the genuine attempt of the actors to present a perfect love story (almost)…
The movie starts with a death of Amy’s husband and she for some reason wants to come back to India. Accompanied by her grand daughter, she lands in chennai in search of Parithi (Arya) with a photo taken 65 years back. You are taken back to 1947 when India is preparing for it’s independence when the young Amy (Amy Jackson), daughter of the governor comes to Chennai to live with her father. She meets Parithi, a dhobi from Washermenpet area in interesting circumstances. After a few interludes, they both fall in love whereas Amy is forcibly engaged to Robert Ellis (Alex O’Neill), the commissioner of Police. Parithi enters in to a conflict with Robert in a land acquisition issue and the conflict ensues. At the brink of India’s independence, the lovers try to elope while the Governor and Robert plot the killing of Parithi. In between the fights, Parithi kills Robert and Amy leaves injured Parithi below the Basin Bridge. Whether Amy finds Parithi after 65 years is told in a interesting but predictable climax.
The real heroes of the movie are the trio of Nirav Shah, Antony and Selvakumr. Nirav Shah proves why he is the most wanted lens man in the country (he rejected Endhiran by the way). Extremely different color tones, beautiful lighting of the Central Station and the grandeur of Old Madras creates a beautiful poem in front of your eyes. Antony on the other hand, packing his fast paced cuts in his attic settled down for a more subtle editing techniques. The back and forth time line editing and perfect synching of the timeline is a treat to watch even though the first half seems to be little longer. Selvakumar (remember the broken lighthouse in Iyarkai) wows the audience with remarkable research he has done for the sets. Central Station, Basin Bridge, Mount Road, Washermenpet, exotic Chennai Tramways and even Lux ads amaze you in every frame. The CG work of iCube (Mumbai) is so perfect that you can’t say the difference in most of the scenes. If you have seen the movie, the whole top of Central Station is created through CG (Courtesy: Vijay Tv Special Program) – interesting isn’t it?
I thought Arya is going to cakewalk the role while Amy will be the glamdoll of the movie. It actually became the topsy turvy with Arya portraying stoned expressions and Amy giving her best in every scene. In fact in the climax scene where she tries to save Arya below the bridge, she just nominated herself for a few awards. The supporting cast of Nasser, Balasingh, the friends and Vijay’s usual suspects from Poi Solla Porom do their parts perfectly. Alex O’Neill as the menacing Robert Ellis provides the ample antagonism and evokes sympathy when he asks “Kill Me? Why? For loving you”. Another important mention should be old Amy (Carla), to be true she has acted better than Arya in the movie. Even the smallest characters like the Taxi Driver, the ever sleeping lazy guy, Police Sub Inspector stay in your mind after the movie. Last but not the least, we have lost one of the finest actors, VMC Haneefa and it’s hard to believe that this is his last movie.
The real villain of the movie is GV Prakash Kumar. Yes the love theme is so mellifluous and the Pookul Pookum’s orchestration sinks your heart. But why GV you needed 3 Hindi Singers to sing the three most beautiful songs of the movie. While Sonu Nigam scrapes through, Udit Naryanan and Roop Kumar Rathod murder Na.Muthukumar’s lyrics like butchers. It sounds awkward to listen to Udit when he pronounces செந்தமிழ் (Senthamizh) and it took me at least 3 listening to find the word ‘Aaruyire’ in Roop Kumar Rathod’s rendering. ( Can the Tamizh saviors formulate a rule that we need correct pronunciations of the wonderful Tamil Lyrics? It really hurts people like me who love the language). The other important let down in GV’s music was his BGM in the important scenes like the scene where Amy saves Arya and the climax. The climax scene should leave the audience in tears but the music was so mediocre that it became just another climax scene. GV needs to learn from pros like Ilayaraja and James Horner. He just disappoints. I think GV was Vijay’s only mistake.
Vijay and AGS Cinemas should be congratulated for taking back in times and trying a risky project. Yes the eternal love looks like Titanic sans the painting scene of course but the research and recreation of Madras wows you. Yes there are mistakes like Robert Ellis and the Governor getting to speak Tamil suddenly and bad casting in the old characters. The deft screenplay and grandeur of Madrasapattinam makes it as one of the best movies this year. It just loses the classic status by a whisker.
A 3.5/5 for Nirav Shah, Selvakumar, Antony and Vijay. Don’t miss this wonderful ride to Madharasapattinam to visit the things we miss in Chennai.