×

‘Madras Cafe’ Won’t Play in Parts of India, U.K.

Tamil exhibs refuse to show John Abraham starrer due to fear of violence

Exhibitors opted not to open John Abraham starrer “Madras Cafe” in several cities in India and the U.K. on Friday, fearing violence from activists protesting the film. Tamils who feel an affinity with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam protested what they said was the pic’s biased view of the conflict and the portrayal of Vellupillai Prabhakaran, the Tigers’ leader.

In Chennai, Tamilnadu, the Tamil Nadu Film Exhibitors Assn. said the film will not play in the state. Facing threats of violence, individual theater and multiplex owners were advised to use their own discretion when booking advance ticket sales. Directed by Shoojit Sircar, the film opened to mixed reviews and middling box office in the rest of India.

U.K. exhib Cineworld said: “Our policy is to show a wide range of films for different audiences. However, following customer feedback and working with the film distributors, we have decided to not show ‘Madras Café.’ ” The exhib offered refunds to those who had already booked the film.

Distrib Viacom18 and production company J.A. Entertainment said in a statement: “We have made a realistic film without being frivolous and over-sensationalizing anything as we believe that the Indian audiences are now looking for credible and realistic cinema. We have told a story, it’s our right of creative expression, we have worked hard to make this film. We only urge people to see the film without being biased and judge it on its merit and not politicize a creative product.”

Popular on Variety

However following a special screening in Chennai, activists were angered even further.  Seeman, head of the We Tamils, called the film “nauseatingly anti-Tamil.”

Student orgs and political parties such as the Bharatiya Janata Party and We Tamil had been protesting the film. “Madras Cafe,” set during Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war in the 1980s, includes a depiction of the assassination of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, for which the Tamil Tigers have been blamed. Abraham portrays an Indian intelligence agent.

And while the BJP naturally opposed a film that showed the assassination of Gandhi, who belonged to a rival party, Shashi Tharoor, minister of State for Human Resource Development, said: ‘Moving to see ‘Madras Cafe’ on Rajiv Gandhi’s birthday. Strong second half, fast-paced film. Outstanding direction and acting, especially by John Abraham.”

In recent months activists have held up the release of other films such as “Thalaiva” and “Viswaroopam” with threats of violence to theaters.

More Film

  • Time's Up U.K. Teams With British

    British Stars Carey Mulligan, Himesh Patel Compile 'Alternative BAFTA' Nominees List

    British stars including Carey Mulligan, Himesh Patel and Gemma Arterton have contributed to an ‘Alternative BAFTAs’ list of nominees that honors talent overlooked by this year’s awards. The campaign is organized by Time’s Up U.K., which is rolling out a social media blitz this week in the lead-up to Sunday’s BAFTA awards honoring the women [...]

  • Rebecca Hall appears in The Night

    'The Night House': Film Review

    A knack for creepy atmospherics and individual scares goes a long way in the horror genre, and it takes “The Night House” pretty far. Though this tale of a new widow’s apparent haunting gets progressively lost in a narrative maze that’s complicated without being particularly rewarding, . Rebecca Hall plays Beth, an upstate New York [...]

  • Herself

    Amazon Studios Buys Phyllida Lloyd's 'Herself' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Amazon Studios has nabbed North American rights to Phyllida Lloyd’s “Herself,” an Irish drama about a woman who builds her dream house after escaping an abusive marriage, Variety has learned.  The streaming service is planning a theatrical release for later this year. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, where it enjoyed a warm [...]

  • Blast Beat

    'Blast Beat': Film Review

    Back home in Bogota, teen brothers Carly and Mateo — played by siblings (and Disney Channel veterans) Mateo and Moisés Arias — are metal-blasting, skateboard-riding punks, and reluctant partners in crime. Carly, the sensible one, can’t prevent Mateo from dynamiting a dollhouse. But he’ll swoop in, hair flapping like a vampire’s cape, to rescue his [...]

  • Rebecca Hall appears in The Night

    Rebecca Hall's 'The Night House' Sells to Searchlight Out of Sundance

    Searchlight Pictures is closing in on the worldwide distribution rights to “The Night House,” a supernatural thriller that premiered to strong reviews at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, insiders close to the deal said. Directed by David Bruckner and starring Rebecca Hall, the deal is reportedly valued at roughly $12 million. It marks the first [...]

  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell in

    'Downhill': Film Review

    Pete (Will Ferrell) and Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) are a prosperous American couple who’ve taken their two sons on a ski vacation to the Alps. Are they having fun yet? That’s a question that hovers over the movie, as the family members hit the slopes and make pilgrimages to the alpine-lodge restaurant, or retire to their [...]

  • Joe Keery appears in Spree by

    'Spree': Film Review

    It didn’t seem like there was a large portion of the movie-going population who felt that Todd Phillips’ “Joker” was too subtle, in either its commentary on the modern era of those who are involuntarily celibate, or its homage-like appropriation of classic Martin Scorsese movies. But maybe writer-director-producer Eugene Kotlyarenko has other information, since that’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content