Reviews

Traffic: Characters in search of redemption

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'Traffic' wears thin, feels rushed. There is neither much of an emotional tug nor an edge-of-the-seat urgency that the film promised to deliver.

A superstar uses his clout to have the state governor call the parents of a potential heart donor to have the organ for his own sick daughter. He then gets the state machinery and the traffic police, all fired up to ensure that the heart reaches from Mumbai to Pune just in time for the little girl to get the gasp of life. The film puts a noble issue like organ donation on the shinier side of the economic divide. Instead of getting moved by the action on screen I was left wondering what would have happened if someone poor and not as influential needed a heart as urgently.

Traffic, a remake of the Malayalam film of the same name, is about several lives intersecting or running parallel with an accident at the fulcrum. There is the star who could never find time for his daughter’s birthday or the school parent teacher meeting. There is a young reporter out on an assignment to interview the star till the accident leaves him brain dead. There is a constable who starts accepting bribes out of sheer economic necessity only to find himself humiliated in front of his wife and daughter. And there is a doctor facing betrayal. All the characters in search of redemption.



Director: Rajesh Pillai
Cast:Manoj Bajpai, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Jimmy Shergill, Parambrata Chatterjee, Divya Dutta, Kitu Gidwani, Sachin Khedekar, Amol Parashar
Run time 104 minutes


Though inspired from a real life incident the film feels too contrived, too full of happenstance. Especially in the last ride of the organ vehicle through a supposedly communally sensitive colony called Bilal Nagar with a Pandharpur procession also following in toe. Then there are other religious tokenisms—a Muslim heart for a Hindu girl, a Christian doctor in charge and a Sikh traffic constable to ensure a smooth ride all the way—all of which seem curiously naïve and meaningless in the complex world we live in these days.

What the film does have are some wonderful actors in the ensemble whose easy performances hold the fractured narrative together. Kitu Gidwani and Sachin Khedekar as the unfortunate parents and Vikram Gokhale as the hospital dean add dignity and gravitas to their characters but their roles seem unformed as do their stories. It’s the same with traffic head Jimmy Shergill. Only Manoj Bajpai’s constable Godbole has layers and nuances and he makes him a compelling watch. Ultimately Traffic wears thin, feels rushed. There is neither much of an emotional tug nor an edge-of-the-seat urgency that the film promised to deliver.

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 10:37:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-reviews/Traffic-Characters-in-search-of-redemption/article14304583.ece

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