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Traffic Review: #NotEnoughSpeed

A slow pace and a weak narrative kill the powerful performances in this Manoj Bajpayee-starrer

Archita Kashyap 6 May 2016, 8:02 PM
T2 Review
Manoj Bajpayee plays a traffic constable in Traffic

Manoj Bajpayee plays a traffic constable in Traffic Image: iSpice

Starring: Manoj Bajpayee, Jimmy Shergill, Divya Dutta, Kittu Gidwani, Sachin Khedekar, Parambrata Chatterjee, Prosenjit, Amol Parashar

Adapted screenplay by: Suresh Nair

Directed by: Rajesh Pillai

Produced by: Endemol Shine India

What I would pay for it: 400/500

You will like this if you liked: Babel, Amores Perros and Contagion

When a film is called Traffic, pace and tension seem to be essential to its narrative. Unfortunately, both are missing from most of the Hindi Traffic, a remake of the Malayalam film by the same name. Despite convincing performances, the film’s pace doesn’t do justice to it’s essentially taut premise. (Traffic Trailer: A mission to save a life)

In brief, Traffic is about transporting a human heart while navigating the nerve-racking traffic of Mumbai and Pune during peak monsoon. A movie star’s daughter needs a human heart urgently and a doctor’s young son is breathing his last. Doctors at both hospitals are willing to take on the challenge of the donor heart reaching the patient on time but Mumbai’s traffic police have to manage this near impossible feat in record time. With a corruption-tainted traffic constable, played by Manoj Bajpayee, rising to the challenge, Traffic revs up with this journey where a sincere police man, accompanied by a grieving friend of the dead patient and a nervy doctor, ride through the pot-hole ridden roads to save a life.

While Manoj Bajpayee, Jimmy Shergill, Parambrata Chatterjee and Prosenjit deliver efficient performances, they seem somewhat disenganged from what's happening onscreen. Kittu Gidwani and Divya Dutta deliver emotional and convincing acts as grieving mothers. This cast of solid actors holds up a sluggish, overtly emotional start to the film’s central premise. In swinging back to their stories, the film religiously follows Amores Perros, the Mexican cult movie that set a standard on this narrative form. But these back-stories are wafer thin, not moving enough. Their incendiary impact slows down the film’s pace, distracting from it’s urgency.

There are a few details that grate while watching this film. The angle of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood twist is completely unnecessary. The influence a film star, an otherwise indifferent parent, exerts with politicians, law and order and common people, and the privilege of being rich is not subtly highlighted. Traffic wouldn’t move for the layperson in these cities, and that’s a fact that keeps popping up in your mind while you watch the film. Director Rajesh Pillai has missed out on the edge of the seat feel that diminishes most doubts in it’s narrative, which he had achieved successfully in the original.

Having said that, Traffic veers away from formulaic Hindi films and proves how underrated good acting talent remains in our mainstream industry. This one is for those who want to take a chance at the cinemas this weekend.

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