I am not a film reviewer; nor is this piece a review of the film ‘Madras Café’ that I watched recently.
But it would be well worth the time and attention of the Firstpost readers to know my thoughts as this film focuses on Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination and the ethnic conflict of Sri Lanka that ravaged the island nation for over a quarter century till Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was militarily decimated by the Sri Lankan troops in May 2009.
I first need to briefly explain my credentials. Though I hate to blow my own trumpet, it is essential first to establish my locus standi for writing this.
As a correspondent of the United News of India (UNI), I had the privilege of covering the entire gamut of events right from around 11 pm of 21 May, 1991 when I was called by my office to immediately report for duty when the news of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination broke out. From then on, for years I covered the Rajiv Gandhi assassination – in parliament, outside parliament, investigations by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) and every single hearing of first the Verma Commission of Inquiry (that probed the security lapses leading to the assassination) and then the Jain Commission of Inquiry (that probed the conspiracy aspects of the assassination and held hearings for almost five years).
I have the privilege of reporting for UNI the proceedings of every single hearing of the Verma Commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge and now late JS Verma, and the Jain Commission, headed by Justice Milap Chand Jain, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court.
Simultaneously, I also did lot of investigative stories on the SIT investigations into the case. For over five years, my sole occupation, nay obsession, was reporting on Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination and interacted with investigators, intelligence officials, lawyers, judges and politicians virtually on a daily basis.
As a result, I acquired a treasure trove of classified information, data and documents which I used in the form of a book. I wrote an investigative book called “Beyond the Tigers: Tracking Rajiv Gandhi’s Assassination” in 1996. Though the manuscript was ready in about six months in 1996, I could not get it published until 1998 till the trial court’s verdict came out. Kaveri Books, Daryaganj, New Delhi, published the book in 1998.
Lawyers, judges, police officials, bureaucrats and investigators who have been associated with the Rajiv assassination case have maintained that this was, and still is, the only investigative, credible book on the subject.
It is against this backdrop that my humble comments on ‘Madras Café’ should be seen and adjudged.
First of all, John Abraham must be saluted for co-producing ‘Madras Café’. He has broken new grounds in taking up a bold subject and charted a territory in mainline cinema where several other producers tried several times but failed to come up with a film on the subject. With ‘Madras Café’ Abraham has immortalized himself in Bollywood and his name will remain alive for the posterity for serious students and practitioners of Indian cinema.