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Madras Movie Review

Review Overview

Screenplay & Direction
Technical Aspects & BGM

Cherish the real north madras life on screen!

Ranjith’s Madras is a richly satisfying film which shows North Madras life at its grittiest, stunningly detailed levels. Overall, it is a film with sterling performances, a wholly original story and superlative filmmaking. A great dramatic achievement from Ranjith. A must watch!

Cast: Karthi, Catherine Tresa, Kalaiarasan, Hari, Rama, Jaya Rao, Aadhi, Vinod, Nanda Kumar, Ritwika & Others. 

Cinematography: G. Murali

Music: Santhosh Narayanan

Editing: Praveen KL

Stunts: Anabariv

Art: Ramalingam

Written & Directed by: Pa Ranjith

Production: KE Gnanavel Raja’s Studio Green

Distribution: Dream Factory

PRO: Johnson

Release Date: 26-09-2014

Run Time: 02:31:00

Ranjith’s Madras is a richly satisfiying film which shows North Madras life at its grittiest, stunningly detailed levels. If you have ever a spent a week or so in north madras, you are bound to immensely enjoy the film than others. It’s an exhilarating 155 minutes movie-watching experience.

Never before the inhabitants, the environment and the entire setting of North Madras have been shown with such staggering and immersive realism in a Tamil film. That’s what makes Madras one of the best films of the year and Ranjith, an extra-ordinary filmmaker and an absolute talent to watch out for.

Just when you think you’ve had enough of gangster or politics based movies, comes this fascinating thrill, an in-depth look at the life of people in north madras. Madras is a relentless experience about the singleminded pursuit of ‘wall promotions’, the only high-profile visibility a politician can get among the countryside households. The story revolves around a giant wall. When a political party called Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam is split into two, the ownership of the wall becomes the million-dollar question between the divided parties. Since then, the wall keeps witnessing never-ending turf war, mysterious murders and political desires. Jayabalan of Aadukalam fame as the towering figure on the gigantic wall appears to be the most perfect choice in the cast. So, who does the wall belong to?

Ranjith’s filmmaking breaks conventions and possesses a stylisitic boldness which makes the happenings on screen highly refreshing. His exhaustive details lend verisimilitude to the near-flawless writing.  Ranjith doesn’t show the people in north madras as poverty-stricken, loud-mouthed ranters. He shows the other side of the people, which is often overlooked in films made here. Kaali (Karthi) is a software professional, teens in the neighborhood practice cycling regularly, they participate in dance competitions (which is also why you will see a bunch of dancers perform to almost every song in the film), they passionately play football in the nights, they play carrom for timepass and most importantly, they are interested in politics – which is why you will see them wear Che Guevara pictured, Manchester United logo-printed t-shirts. The women are independent, sympathetic and brave – example, Kalaiarasi’s (Catherine Tresa) beautifully constructed character arc. Catherine Tresa has neatly pulled off the role with her cute expressions and razor-sharp dialogue delivery with a tinge of north madras slang. Her chemistry with Karthi is etched so well that even a forced romantic portion and a momentum-cursing Aagayam Theepidicha song in the second half seem bearable. The camaraderie among people oozes a new mood of realism and never once it feels forced. There is a genuine authenticity in Ranjith’s characters and their attributes, which is the big success of his writing.

Hari, who plays Johnny, leaves you in splits with an effortless performance whenever he appears on screen; his will be a character to remember. Kalaiarasan, who plays Anbu, has delivered a superb performance as Kaali’s (Karthi) friend and as a husband to Ritwika, who plays Marry and comes across as quite a natural performer. Ranjith has aesthetically shot the intimacy between a husband and wife. Rama as Kaali’s doting, prideful mother is a scream and even Kaali’s grandmother chips in with amusing wisecracks here and there. Madras is easily Karthi’s best film after Paruthiveeran. Karthi as the hot-tempered, naïve and fearless Kaali is an absolute delight to watch on screen.

You can’t praise highly enough the contributions of the ensemble here, kudos to Ranjith for extracting the most assuring performances from his cast. The staging of the engament scene between Karthi and Catherine Tresa is the most enjoyable part of the film in the second half.

Technically, the film, spearheaded by cinematographer Murali’s splendid work and editor Praveen KL’s meticulous cuts, is first-class. While Murali’s lens makes the film thematically significant, Praveen’s editing gives the film its spirit in friendship and love scenes and a stomach-churning experience in fight scenes. While Murali’s camera painstakingly captures the ethos of north madras, Praveen’s editing keeps the proceedings engaging and offers a fascinating experience for the viewers. One wonders where Murali kept his camera while shooting the fight/chase scenes in the tapered roads of the locality. And, watch out for Praveen’s masterly one-minute long montage scene in the first half when a group of rivals device a sketch to execute the opponent. This artful chemistry between Praveen and Murali is also one of the cornerstones of film’s success.

Anbariv’s stunts are riveting, especially the pre-interval chase and the climax stunt. What a dream year Santhosh Narayanan is having! His background score elevates even the most traditional scenes to an entirely different level. Unlike Jigarthanda, where Santhosh used an eclectic range of scores for a variety of scenes, here, he has retained recurring themes for fight scenes and romance portions. And, the most resonating track of all is the 70-second odd Suvar theme, which comes at different junctures of the film and never feels boring, thanks to Murali’s visuals too. The sole regret in the film is the hurried last fifteen minutes, which could be excused when you have made a solid film on the whole.

Overall, Madras is a film with sterling performances, a wholly original story and superlative filmmaking. A great dramatic achievement from Ranjith. A must watch!

Written by Surendhar MK


Madras Movie Review Rating:  3.75/5