After few mindless commercial films, Karthi is indeed back with what he is best at through the film –Madras. The film hardly saw any hype or hoopla and was contanstly getting postponed but atlast, the delay has payed off gracefully. Director Ranjith has come with a rocker of a film, which is refreshingly fresh, intense at places, rugged and rustic throughout, yet edgy which is based on the lives of people living in North Madras as the principal backdrop narrated in an innate style. It has been a long time since we saw a film like this. There is something new about the story telling and packaging with minimal commercial compromises which makes it realistic along with a power packed performance by Karthi, who carries the film to its winning post. It is a perfect team work of Pa.Ranjith, Karthi, promising set of newcomers, Santhosh Narayanan, Praveen K.L., Studio Green and others which makes Madras a satisfying fare.
Plot : The plot of Madras is pretty much straightforward and simple. A huge wall in the middle of housing board complex plays the central character and we are being introduced to two aggrieved parties who are frequently seen fighting over the proprietorship of the same wall and who gets it in the end forms the crux of the plot. Apart from this we have Karthi and Kalaiarasan’s thriving friendship, Karthi’s love for Catherine Tresa, slaying at some junctures and obviously the unprincipled politicians in the North Madras area. In basic the film combines family sentiments, romance, action and violence.
Direction : Kudos to Director Ranjith who has succeeded in presenting the tale of the North Madras people with a lot of realism mixed well with commercial aspects. Compared to his debut Attakathi, this looks like a winner to me. If we take the one-liner of Madras, it looks quite plain and very ordinary but what makes the film seem impressive is the real strength of the film which is its writing, the stunning characterisations, the colloquial local tamil slang used all over the film, the genuine touching of friendship and the novel attempt to show real romance between not only Karthi and Catherine but also between Kalaiarasan and Rithwika is noteworthy. The bona fide milieu, the witty dialogues and the easy to follow events are very evident to show that it is much relatable to the audience. He cashes in on strong friendship values, romance and family bonding to narrate a revenge story sans any commercial cliches, hats off to him.
Coming to Karthi who plays a middle class IT guy, he has invested in his character with a lot of realism and protected it from ever turning into a caricature, Karthi delivers a performance that is arresting. The character conveys volumes through his eyes and emotions and Karthi lives in the role of Kaali right from the first frame to the end. Wish he chooses more such films with terrific characterisations. In my honest opinion, from a purely performance perspective, I would consider this as his best after Paruthiveeran and Naan Mahan Alla. His character arc in the second half is well written and equally well executed by him and he has the audience buying his mode of vengeance. Debutant Catherine Tresa is of course a promising find and she manages the character of a middle class girl to some extent but not to the standards of saying she really pulled it off easily. Her chemistry with Karthi is wonted and does not add much value to the film. Kalaiarasan as Anbu who comes as Karthi’s close friend gives a top-notch performance and he gets registered in our minds after the first half, he is just extraordinary who gets equal importance to that of the hero. The rest of the supporting actors, mostly new comers like Karthi’s parents, Maari, Johnny, Blue Boys were adequate and looked in top form. The director is to be given the credit to make them live into their roles without any uneasiness.
From the technical angles, music director Santhosh Narayanan is the major backbone to the film and elevates the viewing experience to a whole new level as he is able to capture the mood of the film in the appropriate way and made it an outstanding effort. Santhosh Narayanan’s musical score lends a solid support to the proceedings, his ‘Kaagitha Kappal‘ and ‘Naan Nee‘ take the top honours in visuals. G. Murali’s new camera angles, tones are brilliant and perfect vantage point for every scene. The night-effect scenes gives the story the right tone. The scene where Karthi stands in front of the wall and his shadow grows on it as the camera moves is a fantastic thought. The first half of the film sails through effortlessly, but it is the small change in speed and the little twist that slows down the film slightly in the second half with a couple of sequences. Editor Praveen has otherwise done a supreme job by keeping the runtime in an uniform pace. The fight sequences staged are well done by the stunt masters. The interval block will be one of the best intermissions seen this year as Karthi who keeps running and hiding from the hooligans all of a sudden halts and hammers one of the guys from the group without any second thoughts, the crowd went bersek and saw an uproar for it from the audience.
On the flip-side Madras goes predictable as we move towards the end and the climax looks much infirmed with no proper acknowledgements from the fighting parties which I felt could have been even powerful but thats fine and can be excused. Much to the movie buff’s delight and Karthi’s fans, this will mark Karthi’s durable comeback with his performace. If you loved and supported films like Pollathavan, Aadukalam, Pandiyanaadu or the recentJigarthanda, without a shadow of a doubt I can say, you shall like this film. In the end I felt like saying,”Machaan, padam sokka ikkudhuubaa”, yes, it is indeed Karthi’s comeback film, go for it!