Tamil cinema seems to be moving ahead of the tried and tested formulas, and bold directors – backed by bolder producers – have started experimenting on new methods of story telling. Madharasapattinam is – no doubt – one of such experiments. I hope all of these movies succeed in the box office pretty well, so that more of these kinds of movies are doled out by the film makers.
A period drama set during the pre-independence era is not something you come across every day in Tamil cinema. Director Vijay knows how to present it on the silver screen with the right combination of stunning picturisation and beautiful romance. The movie, if not anything else, is a treat for the eyes.
Credit has to be given to art director Selvakumar, who has done a spectacular job in recreating the ambience of the yesteryear Chennai – if not highly authentically – at least convincingly. There are the English ballrooms, dhobi ghana, the Central station, buildings of the Raj era, and what not – yet the camera pans across all of them seamlessly, and quite impressively – thanks to cinematographer Nirav Shah. The boating scenes on Coovum river will definitely enthrall every Chennaiite.
The director has to be appreciated for a simple storyline, told in an eloquent way, yet not straying away into non-issues, and delivering what is promised. The pre-independence era is just used as a back drop, and it is good that comic looking Gandhi or Nehru or Kamaraj don’t make appearances just for the heck of it. Highly appreciable for a first of its kind!
The girl Amy Jackson looks beautiful – convincing as the English Governor’s daughter. Does she have a slight Indian feel about her, or is it the director’s hand? Anyway, what is expected of her – she has delivered quite well. Arya could have been more expressive. He appears to have a plastic look right from the start of the movie to the last. VMC Haneefa (late) has succeeded in giving a few light moments. Other actors play their given roles by the book.
Historic and technical flaws are abundant in the movie. For example, I don’t think the English had such a hostile attitude towards the natives right before the independance. Things changed since the second world war, and the English were losing grip already. In such a situation, it does not seem logical how can would want to build a golf course, and that too dislodging natives from their land. The background score is another setback. It is too loud, and distracts you away from the narration a lot of times. I would still overlook things like these. It is supposed to be a feel good movie, and succeeds at that.
Finally, you cannot help noticing how similar the movie is to Titanic, except that it happens on land, in Chennai. And, the director should be credited for giving a simple and nice climax, without too much drama or emotions. It goes well with the premise.
Overall, you feel satisfied having watched one of the better movies of our times, and one that would set a new trend for more to follow.
My rating: 3.5/5