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'Traffic' crawls on emotional route (Movie Review By Troy Ribeiro; Rating: **)
The song by Mithoon and Arijit Singh, "Neki ki raahon pe tu chal", aptly sums up the message of the film "Traffic", a remake of the 2011 Malayalam film of the same name.
"Traffic" is a film with a strong premise and gives the message that humanity is still alive. It also portrays the Mumbai traffic police in a positive light. However, the film is completely devoid of any entertainment value and appears somewhat lacklustre.
Ramdas Godbole (Manoj Bajpayee), a traffic constable in the Mumbai police, with a tarnished image, takes upon himself the responsibility of reaching a donor's heart from Mumbai to Pune, to save a 12-year old girl's life, in a bid to redeem himself.
How the lives of several strangers in two cities (Pune and Mumbai) suddenly get intertwined in an emergency situation on June 25, 2008 and how humanity wins over every other human emotion, forms the crux of this two-hour film.
While the performance of all the actors is outstanding, however limited their screen time, Divya Dutta as Maya Kapoor, the anguished mother of the 12-year-old recipient of the heart, Sachin Khedekar as the father of the accident victim, trainee journalist Rehan Ali, Amol Parashar as Rajeev, Rehan's friend and Parambrata Chatterjee as Dr Abel Fernandes, the cardiac Surgeon stand out with their effortless performances.
Prosenjit Chatterjee as superstar Dev Kapoor lends nothing to his character and perhaps is an extension of his real self. Jimmy Sheirgill as traffic commissioner Gurbir Singh evokes a feeling of deja vu as he is perpetually in a police uniform, indulging in the same histrionics and expressions.
Vishal Singh is endearing and his girlfriend too leaves an impact, albeit in a small role.
Manoj looks the character through his physical appearance and plays the traffic policeman with requisite restraint and responsibility, but frankly, he seems a tad disappointing after a film like "Aligarh". But that has got nothing to do with his ability as an actor. It is just that he does not have enough scope to perform.
Apart from the message of humanity, the film fails to thrill. The deliberate track of Dr Abel to serve as an impediment in the journey, along with the emphasis on the limited time to complete the mission, seem forced and uncalled for, adding nothing to the film by way of entertainment.
The film engages you in its message and makes you laud the Mumbai Traffic Police, but does not really entertain you. Somewhere, although you feel for the characters, you are not one with them as they fail to strike an emotional chord with you.
The music by Mithoon in the two songs "Neki ki raahon pe" and "Kuch der sahi theher ja tu yahaan" are soulful and mesh well with the theme of the film.
As a director, the late Rajesh Pillai is true to the subject of the film, with no needless digressions or commercial elements, maintaining the sanctity of the theme, yet he failed to recreate the magic of the original.
Overall, moving on a smooth even path this "Traffic"
seems to crawl, leaving you exasperated for some speed.
'Traffic' is watchable for its terrific cast (Review By Subhash K. Jha; Rating: *** ½ )
One extra star-rating goes to this uniquely formated thriller for its impressive cast of actors. Manoj Bajpayee is in terrific form as a digraced havaladar trying to redeem himself by taking on a seemingly impossible goodwill mission: of transporting a heart across the super-busy Mumbai-Pune Express Highway for a little girl’s transplant.
By the time the well-crafted though clumsily scripted thriller is over many of the characters have redeemed their souls and undergone a change of heart, one of the literally. The plot borrows from a 2008 real-life incident where a little dying girl in desperate need of heart transplantation was saved by a quick-thinking fleet of do-gooders.
The Hindi version could have done with a lot more restrain.While the main plot remains rigorously riveting, thanks to the able actors who make the urgent transportation look absolutely convincing. The digression about a doctor with an unfaithful wife is so artificial and forcibly super-imposed in the plot you wonder why they bothered! The climax is also an attempt to heighten the drama with exaggerated bravado when in fact the film’s subject matter is inherently dramatic.
Why add to the tension to the point of making the proceedings unbearably self-important? The climax has the heroic havaldar driving the car through a “communally sensitive” locality where the colour green becomes a benign flag for the urgently racing automobile.
It’s all too crammed crowded and claustrophobic to hold together in a credible clasp. Nonetheless the essential power of the plot furnishes enough heart to the goings-on. Even when the contrivances get over-manipulative there is never a dull moment in the narrative. The performers make sure we are with the drama all the way.
Manoj Bajpayee as the disgraced havaldar who rises to heroic heights brings to the screen a deeper understanding of his character’s suppressed rage than perhaps the script permitted. The ever-watchable Jimmy Sheirgill as a cop trying to make sense out of an impossible life-and-death mission is splendidly charged-up. Sachin Khedeker as the dying boy’s undemonstrative father gives the most emotionally rousing performance in the film.
But the film should have belonged to the two actresses Divya Dutta and Kitu Gidwani playing the respective mothers of the child who needs a new heart and the mother of the dying boy who can give a new life. There is a terrific telephonic exchange between the women where Divya pleads(with heartrending sincerity) while Kitu (we should see a lot more of the latter) listens. It reminded me of the Shabana Azmi-Smita Patil telephonic sequence in Mahesh Bhatt`s "Arth".
These patches of brilliance remain isolated in a film which seems to be as much in a hurry as its characters. Maybe the director knew he had to go sooner than later. Traffic is engrossing and innovative enough to make me wonder what Rajesh Pillai would have brought to the screen next. Perhaps another film with a lot of heart and a lot more restraint.
The film seems to have been hurriedly out together with patchily edited sequences and some awful dubbing including the sound of rain that comes and goes at will. Pillai deserved a more polished send-off.