Movie Review: Madrasapattinam (2010)

A fine mix of old times and the contemporary with the perfect blend of Patriotism and Love gives the delicious meal of the day and that’s what Madrasapattinam is all about!

The story is set in a present day and pre-independence era of India where Amy Wilkinson (Amy Jackson) comes to Chennai during the British rule. Parithi (Arya) who is brought up in a washer man family who is also a professional wrestler happens to meet Amy. Amy gets impressed with his looks and his demeanor. Amy carries with her an age old camera of British times and clicks away everything she sees in her way. She requests Parithi, to tour around Chennai accompanied by Cochin Haneefa, a Brahmin British stooge. She falls in love with Parithi deeply and thus the story is set to revolve around these characters 60 years back to the present.

The movie would have been just another historic documentary if it had followed the normal story line starting from the pre independence to the current time. But the director has brought out the storyline in an interesting fashion by shifting the storyline between the past and the present. The simple concept of flashback was handled with more subtlety. The scene shifts to the pre independence era in a swish of time and shifts back to the current one with due continuation. This makes the movie drift more logically and sticks to the flow.

After watching the movie, I fell in love so much with Chennai more than Amy Jackson. Chennai cannot be depicted more captivating than this. The mount road, Spencers and everything steals the hearts of every Chennaivaasi or Chennaite. The classical look of Chennai is something which we have seen only in the forward mails and in the websites. But to bring those looks to the city in the movie and the efforts behind it is more appreciable. It takes a real effort and talent to depict the city in its old form and to bring back the reality to the audience. The streets and roads of the old Chennai or Madras is well portrayed with the men protesting against the British with Indian flag. The mention of Subash Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi, Kamarajar, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Jinnah brings the memories of our old History text books. But to make the audience perceive the existence of those people in the movie is real challenge. It was really pathetic to see how Chennai has been polluted and the resources were wasted in the long run post independence. The Coovam River which was used as a medium of transport using coracles is now a polluted stinking water body. This movie really brought in the aspects which people have to look back and try to preserve the city’s dignity.

The performances by the actors were really laudable. Nazer speaking about Subash Chandra Bose and people waiting for Kamarajar in the railway station were something which I was finding it difficult to imagine. But still it made a good effect on all of us. Arya has done his part well. A normal Dhobi and a wrestler who is silent, illiterate captivates not only Amy’s heart but all our hearts too. Amy Jackson who is cute and the daughter of Governor General of India pre Independence cherishes her stay in Chennai to every extent. When she thinks of her days spent in Chennai during pre independence, the view of Madras changes from new to old and then back to new. When we see the movie in her view, it really creates more belongingness to the City than the movie.

The “Mingu Mingu Mingu…Tingu Tingu Tingu” humor sequence in the movie reminds of the age old “Atharibacha” story told by my father.  Cochin Haneefa gives his piece of Humor as well. His irrelevant translation brings in giggles and laughter at appropriate times.

After irritating requests “Ayyaa oru uthavi, nandri sollanum, English la” from the Arya and the group of his friends, the school teacher abides and teaches them the word “Thank you”, and after a struggled attempt to remember the word, even after repeated murmuring of the word “Thank You Thank You Thank You”, a simple jerk on the road created by shallow pit makes them forget the original word and the word takes up the form “Mingu Mingu Mingu”. These were some of the subtle comedy sequences which may go unnoticed if the audience were not so inclined towards the language. Since the teacher tells Arya and the group of his friends that “A B C D” is similar to Tamil “A Aa E Ee..”, Arya corrects him saying it must not be taught as  A B C D”, it must be “A Aae B Bee C Cee…”. The humor quotient was well maintained with Arya similar to that of his sequence in the movie “Sarvam”

Romance and the urge to get independence strikes volatility in Arya’s mind. When the independence was announced he feels happy and when he comes to know that the English people have to leave the country, the only thought that hits his mind is Amy. Love is something which happens in between two hearts and not in between the people. The war of independence and the war of love storms his heart and the lull prevails when he wins both. The romance was well portrayed in spite of it is being in-between the two, who belong to different nationalities. Since the language was the only barrier, Amy succeeds in learning Tamil which was his only language in which he can express and convey his love. Though Parithi couldn’t successfully live with Amy in his life time post independence, he lives peacefully in Amy heart towards the end.

When Amy says, “Maranduttiya…”(Did you forget?) for the first time, when Arya tries to recall the English words to say “What is your name”, it brings in a sheer joy and excitement not only to Arya but to the audience as well. Amy speaks in Tamil after that.

I felt the song sequences were not that much impressive except the “pookkal pookkum tharunam” number. It was more story oriented with patriotism, independence than a music oriented one. This shifts the interest of the audience towards the movie than the songs.

Last but not least, though this movie seemed to be unique and impressive, it had little inheritance of the story and the sequences from the movies Titanic and Lagaan – The patriotic quotient from the movie Lagaan and the Love quotient from the movie Titanic. This was the general observation from the crowd. But as said, no story can be unique and it has to gain inspiration from the stories from the past, this movie stands no deviation to this rule. But, no one can be blamed for this. This story stood unique in its own aspects of cinematography.

Madrasapattinam has a perfect mix of Story, Humor, Love, Patriotism and Chennai. A unique attempt in the Tamil industry which will definitely applauded and will be profoundly honored. A must watch for all Tamil people and those who love Chennai much like me 🙂

A big applause for the director and all those who made this movie a real entertainer! Do watch it in theatres.

Madrasapattinam – A love in Madras and for Madras!!

Love You Chennai!!!!!!