CAST AND CREW
Production: Studio Green
Cast: Catherine Tresa, Kalaiyarasan, Karthi
Music: Santhosh Narayanan
Background score: Santhosh Narayanan
Cinematography: Murali G
Editing: Praveen KL
Art direction: Ramalingam
Stunt choreography: Anbarivu
Dance choreography: Satish
Lyrics: Gaana Bala, Kabilan, Uma Devi
Distribution: Studio Green
Director Ranjith’s second movie, Madras gets down to business straightaway with minimum fuss. He himself introduces the setting, the area, the characters, the conflicts and along with the ‘Madras’ title track, the establishment part has been done remarkably. The applause begins right from the beginning.
The action is set in a part of North Madras where two rival political factions vie for supremacy. A lot of blood is shed and a wall, which is a prime tool for politicking, is the bone of contention and a matter of big pride for the people involved. Ranjith has surrounded this core with many equally important characters – Kaali, Anbu, Maari, Kannan, Johnny, Kalaiarasi, Mary, the Blue Boys, the parents and more.
The film encompasses elements like politics, drama, friendship, romance, betrayal, revenge and pride, and is a gripping affair all the way, with just a few minor breathers in the second half when the fare becomes predictable. The first half sets the benchmark pretty high with the tense, action-packed pre-interval segment being among the best this year. Editor Praveen deserves credit for making the first half as taut as it is.
Santhosh Narayanan continues to outperform with each passing outing and his background score is an experience to savor. His myriad theme tracks are pounding, soothing, dramatic, mesmerizing and add so much emotion to every scene. His songs are pretty popular already and would only gain more mileage now, after the release. The energetic title track, ‘Kaagidha Kappal’ (with interesting choreography) and the pathos number rendered by Gaana Bala stand out on screen. The two hit melodies ‘Naan Nee’ and ‘Aagayam’ come in quick succession in the second half during the film’s low-key moments.
Murali’s cinematography is the film’s other big pillar. Shot entirely in live locations in North Madras and inside actual housing board flats, the visual tone is vibrant and real. The multiple long, top-angle shots of the wall, the playground and the housing board community during different points of the movie, would stay in memory.
Karthi has to be appreciated for accepting this script where he is just a part and not the pivot. This is easily one of his best and his noted caliber as a versatile performer comes to the fore again. In the raw fist cuffs and brawls, Karthi’s intensity, punches and slaps appear truly real. Credit to the stunt choreographers too. Madras is definitely high on action!
Kalaiarasan as Anbu, steals the show and this has to be his lifetime role. The youngster has grabbed the opportunity with both hands and we have to laud director Ranjith for giving this dynamic performer good scope to showcase his wares.
Catherine Tresa, despite her sophisticated appearance, comes out with an authentic performance thanks to the way she emotes, the apt dubbing voice for her and the manner in which she has lip-synced. A new heroine is out to grab all our attention, well and truly.
Among the other characters, the shaggy lunatic Johnny earns a big cheer whenever he utters something in English and with his gestures and over-the-top style of performing. Ritwika, who plays Anbu’s wife Mary and Rama – Karthi’s nagging but concerned mother, are among the other standouts. Again, Ranjith has to be credited for making all these unknown actors come up trumps with a solid show each.
The North Madras lingo is a delight to hear and all the actors and dubbing artistes who have contributed to this effect, deserve a pat or two.
To sum up, Madras, though on the longer side and venturing into predictable territory beyond a point, stands out for the presentation, the characterizations, the performances and for the unflinching direction efforts of Ranjith.
Verdict: Madras definitely deserves a trip to the theaters