Seven years back, Madras Cafe hit the screens. At its time of release, the film was one of the select few geo-political dramatic thrillers to have come out of India. Today, John Abraham (and of course Akshay Kumar) is making quite a few films in this genre, Parmanu – The Story of Pokharan, Romeo Akbar Walter and Batla House to name a few. However back then, he had a New York behind him and audiences had loved him in the part that he played.
This time around, he even stepped in as a producer and forged a partnership with Shoojit Sircar who ensured that a tout thriller was delivered. Madras Cafe was in fact one of the select few no-nonsense films belonging to this genre to have been made back in 2003 and though the core plot was based on Rajiv Gandhi assassination, this was not publicized as a marketing and promotional peg. The focus was on getting the promo right which generated enough intrigue and then the overall narrative ensured that the target audience was enticed well enough.
This is what happened as this offbeat film, which was devoid of hardcore ‘masala’ elements and was instead structured as a Hollywood style realistic thriller with a docudrama feel to it, caught audience attention from the first day itself. The film took an opening [5.23 crores] almost similar to that of New York [5.60 crores], which was a far more commercial film with Katrina Kaif, Neil Nitin Mukesh and Irrfan Khan in there as well, and also came from the house of Yash Raj Films. The lifetime of 42.67 crores too was similar as that of New York [45.40 crores].
This is the reason why Madras Cafe actually deserves a lot more credit than what it has earned over the years. It was one of the first belonging to this genre and though over a period of times there have been a few such films that have been made, John Abraham had pioneered this way back in time.
Another reason the film is special is also due to John Abraham’s career best performance of that time. As an actor, he has been delivering quite well, especially in the last 4-5 years, with a very good strike rate of a far higher count of hits and superhits when compared to disappointments. However, in 2013, he took a risk no less to not just act in but also produce a film like Madras Cafe. He excelled in both departments and ensured that the filmmaker took him a lot more seriously than ever before.
Certainly, a lot of credibility was earned post the release of Madras Cafe by John Abraham.
Today, John Abraham is working on a lot of films while exploring different subjects and though Mohit Suri’s Ek Villain 2 is set to be as ‘masaledaar’ as it gets, he is concentrating a lot on action. Sanjay Gupta’s Mumbai Saga is set to see him in a very intense role of a gangster. Debutant director Lakshya Raj Anand’s Attack features him in a stylized action arena that has been hitherto unexplored by Bollywood. As for Milap Zaveri’s Satyameva Jayate 2, the film is looking at being one up over the first installment that broke many records on release.
All that one waits for now is theaters to reopen so that John Abraham can strike again and reach out to mass as well as class audiences with his varied films.