The trip to Madrasapattinam is A trip worth taking!
Right from when the title credits appear showing the names of the technicians marked as places in a map to the end credits where the locations of Madras in 1990 & 2010 are juxtaposed, Madrasapattinam is aesthetically pleasing. Besides this, there is a beautiful narration of a love story of a local Dhobi & a British general’s daughter.
The narrative style takes cue from Titanic with an old lady going from London to Chennai in search of her lost love in Madrasapattinam. The 1900s and the 2010s are seamlessly intertwined and this makes for an interesting watch. The answer for the question ‘Is the story cliché ridden ?’ would be a Yes. But, what makes it an interesting film is the setup of the story. Set in a pre-independence India, there are scenes taken in famous landmarks of the old Madras & there is a scene that focuses on the lovers on the day of Indian Independence – There is a touch of brilliance in it.The director definitely scores with his creative imagination. He has been successful in giving a love story woven in a domain untouched.
At close to three hours, the film is lengthy but never does it sag thanks to the partly gripping & partly light-hearted line the film tows. Some of the lesser shown characters are used effectively for this purpose. Having said that, there has certainly been some build up for some characters but they fizzle out having not much scope in the end – Those of Nasser & Haneefa in particular.
Arya, once again, scores with his choice of films. It is disappointing that he isn’t getting success & acclaim. Hope Madrasapattinam gives him that. With his chiseled body & rocky expressions he passes with flying colors. He has limited dialogs but has ample scope for performance which he grabs to the fullest. He emotes well - the scene where he finds back Amy at Central station & moists his eyes being a typical example. He deserves a big break. He has performed the stunts very well, them being realistic – Credits to the stunt director.
Amy Jackson, the heroine, has done a neat job. This film doesn’t show the heroine a puppet who dances for songs. She has a role of substance and has done well. Her lip movements for the dubbing is much better than most of the Indian actresses’! The other important characters in the film are of the old Amy, Nasser, Cochin Haneefa (his absence will definitely be felt), Omar (of Poi solla porom), Travel agent ‘Eli’ and they have done their parts decently. There are some small but noteworthy roles – Those of the English teacher,the guy in eternal hibernation etc that tickle our funny bones effectively.
Editing by Antony is good with the mix and match of the two eras. Selvakumar’s art work deserves ample praise. We get to see the Madras which we might have only come across in framed photos – The central station,Cooum River,Elphinstone theatre and other such places. The attention to details shown deserves applause. Nirav Shah’s photography work is neat as it usually is. The SFX are pretty good as the graphics used for showing the Old Madras are not glaring. Infact, they make it look realistic.
One big plus is G.V.Prakash’s music. He has come of age and this film will definitely be a landmark in his career. ‘Pookal Pookum’ & ‘Aaruyire’ are ear pleasing songs. The Love theme that resembles (in style & not the tune) Nino Rota’s The Godfather Love theme lingers in the mind for long. It was satisfying to see that the director had not butchered the long songs. The picturisation of the songs were brilliant too with those of ‘Megame’ & ‘Vaama duraiamma’ taking the cake. The background score is pleasing & honest inducing nostalgia at moments.
On the flip side are some of the momentum breaking long scenes towards the end & the sudden appearance of a ‘Duraiamma trust’ which seems logically unfathomable. Also a heavy build-up is given for the search of the old Arya which ends rather inadequately.
To sum things up, Madrasapattinam is a nostalgic trip down memory lane for anyone related to Madras or Love in any small way. I could relate to it the Madras way! Vijay has been a promising prospect giving two good films in Kreedom and Poi Solla Porom. They were remakes and he had to break the shackles and come up with an original and he does that in style with Madrasapattinam.
A lovely trip this - from Madras to Madrasapattinam on a near smooth road with a few potholes