Traffic - Review

wogma rating: The keen should rent; else TV (?)
quick review:

Interesting plot with inconsistent pace and unnecessary drama.



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Traffic is not your regular Bollywood mish-mash put together. It is another kind of mish-mash, the kind that symbolises road traffic typical of any Indian metropolis, maybe? It manages to scrape through as a reasonable thriller, even if it is predictable. A donated organ needs to cross 160 kilometers in just 2.5 hours. Interestingly enough, it is not the predictability that takes the film down, it is the pace and laughable moments of drama created.

The drama is hardly necessary. Although arguably, any drama at all can be avoided, in this particular case, the plot is interesting enough to pull the movie through. It didn't need any external assistance. In fact, the drama comes in the way of you getting on the edge of your seat.

This in turn ends up lengthening the film. At a good 15 minutes less than 2 hours, Traffic isn't a long film and even so feels elongated beyond what could have kept it thrilling. Individual scenes elongate. “Reveals” are over-explained.

Despite a low budget, no frills show, there are a few scenes that are done really well. Then there are the obvious product placements and lapses like mobile phones that work in rain that serve as distractions too.

However, the two things that hold Traffic together are the basic plot and the commentary it tries to engage its audience in. The performances aren't particularly bad, but they seem rather superficial even though every one cries really well. They manage to bring a lump in the throat. Of course, actors like Divya Dutta, Manoj Bajpai, Sachin Khedekar, Kitu Gidwani, Vikram Gokhale and Jimmy Sheirgill try to infuse as much energy as is possible in the lacklustre dialogue. However, this brings the performances all together only to a not-bad-not-great level.

The general comment on social fabric though is what keeps you engaged. Much like a web Traffic touches on the taboo that being involved with a widow is to dowry to wide prevalence of extra-marital affairs to the corruption and need thereof in the system to value and power of VIPs. I especially liked the little things like the clamor of media and general public oblivious to the urgency of the situation and a character not wearing a seat belt despite of the various road accidents they've seen so far and the precarious situation he is in currently. That's just how we are.

All of the above is done without getting in your face – just a part of the story. In fact, leaving enough room to make you wonder about things going on in the film vis-à-vis real life. What if it were not a VIP situation, would it have worked out? Of course, it just might have, there is no reason to go cynical, but it does cross your mind - this when there were VIPs involved, what if it were a common man? It makes you think about the things - What would have to be at stake for you to take unimaginable, selfless risks? On the other hand, is it because you feel you have nothing left too lose? I should point out here though that the intensity of the traffic problem is only in words here. You barely see any major trouble being caused by it.

However, does the situation - yours, society's - resemble that of the dense web of road traffic?

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A few harsh road accidents.
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: Extra marital affair.
  • Concept: A general comment on the social fabric – as messy as road traffic?
  • General Look and Feel: A low budget, no frills show

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 2.5
  • Story: 3
  • Lead Actors: 3
  • Character Artists: 2
  • Dialogues: 2
  • Screenplay: 2
  • Music Director: 2
  • Lyrics: 1

Traffic - Movie Details

Traffic - Trailer

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Comments (2)

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Its a perfect Review... Totally agree.


This one surprised me. Seeing Manoj Bajpayee on all the posters of the film, I was expecting a film on the life of a traffic policeman. The typical day to day grind, the positives and the negatives of a city where the drivers are pushing the limits in every sense, a family life centred on a chawl etc. Mind you, I had not watched the trailers.

But instead of all this, the film turned out to be a thriller!! Of all things, this is the last that I was expecting. And Manoj Bajpayee's role could be referred to as a cameo - despite the fact that his face is splashed over every poster. To be honest, there is no single face that could represent the film Traffic. Every character is just there, no particular character has been allowed to grow beyond its limits. So despite so many familiar faces (and there are a lot) in the film, at the end no single face stays in your mind. This can be labelled a success in itself, as none of the stars were allowed to dominate the proceedings thereby dwarfing other characters.

The film in itself succeeds partially in achieving the edge-of-the-seat thrills. The film takes a long time to reach its main theme i.e. thriller. Till that time it just introduces the various characters, and has your classical non-commercial film look and feel. But from the word go, when the thriller part starts, you as the viewer know exactly where the film is going to end. So there are no prizes for correctly guessing the end. There are a few twists here and there, but they seem artificial (too much convenient coincidence) - and they are explained very quickly (so the surprise element does not linger for long). Nevertheless they manage to keep you reasonably well engaged with the film.

The film also tries to interweave too many individual stories into one another, and without any purpose. Take for instance Rehan and Dev Kapoor. There was no need whatsoever to link them up by being interviewer / interviewee. The whole interviewer / interviewee episode could have been dropped without impacting the story by an iota - and it would have lent a lot of credibility to the proceedings.

Also: the fact that the entire lethargic public services machinery across cities are mobilized into the most efficient operating machine raised the question several times, would it have been done if a commoner was involved? The answer that came each time without hesitation is a vehement NO. Not in India at least. No governor, no super rich surgeon, or no commissioner would even spend 2 minutes of their time in case a commoner was involved. Thus the film comes across as a bit artificial affair. On the other hand, the film is based on a real life incident that occurred in 2008 in Chennai. And not knowing the details of that case, I presume that a non-celebrity was involved in the real life case. So hey, who knows? Maybe sometimes the so called public servants are really serving their true master - the common public.

Overall: the film is an alright one time watch if you have nothing specific to do. Predictable but fast moving - no particular outstanding performances (which is a positive point for me). And yes, if like me you don't like watching grown-ups cry (especially senior citizens) then skip it. It is not a movie a must watch film.

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