‘Madras Cafe’ suffers blow in UK, Tamil Nadu

Updated 01 October 2013

‘Madras Cafe’ suffers blow in UK, Tamil Nadu

MUMBAI: A Bollywood spy thriller set against the backdrop of the Sri Lankan civil war has been pulled from British and some Indian theaters after protests over its depiction of rebel fighters, the movie’s distributors said.
Madras Cafe, which opened Friday, features John Abraham as an Indian secret agent sent to Sri Lanka during the island’s decades-long conflict between the government and separatist Tamil rebels.
But the film has failed to reach a number of cinema halls after ethnic Tamil populations in India and in Britain complained that they were unfairly portrayed.
“Our UK exhibitors, Cineworld, decided to hold back the film after protesters gathered outside their UK offices,” said Rudrarup Datta, marketing head at the film’s Indian co-producer and distributor Viacom18 Motion Pictures.
“Exhibitors do not want to take a risk and withdrawing screenings of the film is their prerogative,” Datta said.
No British cinemas are currently showing the film although they were still hopeful of a release at a later date, he added.
A full release has gone ahead in the United States, Canada and the United Arab Emirates.
Indian media reports said theaters also refused to show the film in southern Tamil Nadu state after protests from its large Tamil population.
Activist group Naam Tamilar (We Tamils) asked the state government to block the film’s release, unhappy that rebels were depicted as “terrorists,” according to media reports.
In Britain, an online petition was launched calling for a halt to the film’s release there because it was believed to portray Tamils “in a poor light.” Nearly 2,000 people have given their support to the petition.
The film passed India’s censors with no cuts and a parental guidance certificate, and was classified for those aged over 15 in Britain, while director Shoojit Sircar has insisted the movie does not take sides.


Lack of spirit leaves World War II saga hanging midway

Roland Emmerich’s just-opened “Midway” comes nowhere close to the 1950s and 1960s war adventures. (Supplied)
Updated 14 November 2019

Lack of spirit leaves World War II saga hanging midway

CHENNAI: Movies on World War II have delighted cinema audiences for years. Nobody can forget the daring Allied escape in the 1965 “Von Ryan’s Express” with Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard driving a train through Nazi-occupied territory.

There were others in that decade and earlier such as David Lean’s “The Bridge on the River Kwai” about British prisoners of war building a railway in malaria-infested Burma (now Myanmar). These were great classics, but recent efforts have not been as memorable.

(Supplied)

Roland Emmerich’s just-opened “Midway” comes nowhere close to the 1950s and 1960s war adventures. Despite audiences still being thirsty for WWII sagas and a star-studded cast (Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Mandy Moore, Ed Skrein and Nick Jonas), the film is unmoving, mainly because of the shallow characters. If the dialogues are stiff, the dramatic potential – including the relationship among the men – appears to have been left midway.

The film begins with Japan’s December 1941 air attack on the US naval base in Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, which dragged America into the conflict, and the flick follows America’s revenge mission culminating in the June 1942 Battle of Midway.

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For the US, it was a victory against all odds giving them control of the Pacific’s Midway atoll. It was also a major triumph of human spirit, but the film does not quite capture it.

Most of the exploits relate to real-life fighter pilot Dick Best (Skrein), whose devil-may-care attitude earns him the title “cowboy.” His wife Ann (Moore), the only female character, urges him on but seems a washed-out figure. However, there is plenty of action in the air with dog fights, bombings and pilots ejecting from burning planes high above the ground.

(Supplied)

For fans of singer Jonas, his small but significant part may appeal. He is sailor Bruno Gaido whose spontaneous and heroic action during a Japanese raid earns him promotion.

“Midway” plays at three levels, including one about Japanese military officers, and was shot in Hawaii and Montreal with a lot of computer graphics thrown in. The camera work (Robby Baumgartner) is impressive, but somewhere the soul is missing, and the characters fail to come across as real people.

Despite this, the film opened atop the North American box office last weekend with a reported $17.5 million in ticket sales.