Any movie set in the pre-independence era carries the expectations of portraying the freedom struggle. Madrasapattinam makes little or no attempts to get into that. Yes, the events of the freedom struggle and subsequent achievement of independence from British rule have not been shown in detail, nor have any of the legendary names associated with the freedom been depicted. So, Madrasapattinam is not a documentation of the freedom struggle and events associated with it. Then what is it?
Madrasapattinam (also spelt as Madarasapattinam, Madhrasapattinam) is the revolutionary love story of an innocent and valorous Tamil youth and a British girl set in the pre-Independence era.
The troubles and turmoil that their romance face and what transpired between the young White girl and the Tamil youth on the day of Indian independence have been dealt clearly and crisply with a touch of political background, laced with patriotism.
Story of the Movie:
The movie begins more like Titanic as an old English woman (Amy Jackson) almost at her death bed in London, wants to come down to Chennai in search of a young man Parithi (Arya) whom she last saw on 15 August, 1947.
Almost 60 years from then, she is clueless as she has just a picture of Parithi, which was taken then. The search begins. There are scenes where she recalls her past. It is revealed that Parithi was a valorous dhobi in ‘Madrasapattinam’. He revolts against the British officials for they plan to construct a golf course in their dhobikhana.
Comes Amy jackson, daughter of Madras Presidency Governor, and she develops an affinity towards Parithi. She is friendly and helpful. Sequence of events leaves romance blossoming between them. Parithi calls her affectionately as Duraiamma.
Even as they face trouble from the angry White officials, comes 15 August 1947 which brings freedom to India. Duraiamma is now forced to go back to England. Parithi runs from pillar to post and fights to hold his sweetheart’s hands. But he couldn’t achieve his mission. Cut to present, Duraiamma is back in search of Parithi. Did she realise her mission forms the climax.
Full marks to the team of Madrasapattinam for recreating Madras, which existed only in photos, history books and minds of people who lived during that era. Though most of us do not have a very clear idea about how Madras would have looked like before 1947, the picturisation is good enough to convince us that this is an authentic representation.
G.V. Prakash’s background music.
Prakash has come up trumps with the songs that reflect the time. What more, the background score is apt for the movie. At places, he reminds one of maestro Ilayaraja. He has shown a lot of promise and ‘Madrasapattinam’ is sure to take him places. The sorrow of a woman missing her lover has been brought out well by Prakash’s background score.
Delightful performances by Arya and Amy Jackson.
Arya excels in his role. He fits the role to T. Be it an angry youth voicing against the Whites or a romantic youngster running around to save his beloved, he is right there giving his best.
Amy Jackson walks with the top honors for a beautiful portrayal of a lady torn between her love and the mighty empire. She looks absolutely beautiful, emotes well through her expressive eyes and is able to earn the sympathy of the audiences during tough times
The rest of the cast too is spot on in delivering the goods. Cochin Haneefa delights as the dubashi (translator) lending many moments of fun as he plays around with languages that he does not know. The rest of the cast including Nasser, Balasingh, M S Baskar, Balaji, Kishore and Jeeva are adequate. English man Jack James as a greedy British cop is an apt choice.
While there are positives aplenty for Madrasapattinam, there are one or two aspects that could have been better.
The storyline and the events might sound a bit familiar to you. Yes, there are points in the movie where one is able to draw parallels to other great movies. The opening portions remind us of Titanic, while the challenge thrown by the British at the dhobi community gives us a Lagaan feel.
The dialogues do not seem to be the kind that would have been spoken before 1947, the lines look very contemporary, especially the Tamil dialogues. One can overlook this in a commercial film. Using the proper 1940s Madras Tamil could have worked either way for the movie. There are quite a few English dialogues (understandably), but they do not look like an inconvenience or act as a barrier between the film and the audiences
But, in spite of all this, Madrasapattinam has a unique identity and the reason for that is in the title of the film itself – Madras. That is the single biggest highlight of the movie.
Director Vijay, who has stepped out of filmmaker Priyadharshan’s school, has made his mentor proud with his third directorial venture Madrasapattinam.
Verdict: Worth a watch.