Tuesday, July 16, 2013


In my last post, I mentioned that this week, I was going to try and catch up with movies. Well, I certainly meant it. My flight was at 10.30 am, which meant that I did not have to wake up at the normally unearthly hours I have to wake up on, on the days I'm traveling to the airport. And so, I did not go off to sleep either. It also helped that we were flying by the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It really is a dream compared to the other domestic flights in India.

So I got to fiddling with the screen in front of me, and finally settled on Traffic. There is this thing about Malayalam movies- when they are good, they are excellent, and when they are bad, they can be pathetic! This one, thankfully, belongs to the former category.

The movie is about how entirely unconnected families and people are connected by a bizarre set of coincidences one fine day- 16th September- at a traffic signal. And how that tenuous connection binds a spell on an audience for 2 hours.

Rehaan (Vineet Sreenivasan) is a young man who's just finished college, whose ambition is to become a journalist and make a difference to at least one life through his reporting, and who's just landed his first job in a reputed TV channel. His first assignment is to interview the Malayalam superstar- Siddharth Shankar.
Rajiv (Asif Ali) is his best friend. And Aditi (Sandhya) is his lover, who has just gotten her divorce through.
He has a doting mother (Fathima Babu), and his father (Saikumar) is an extremely successful surgeon, who loves his son, but  is very clear that he's not going to use his connections to get him a job. But once he's on his way to his first assignment, he quietly makes a few calls, to make sure that the interview is watched by those who matter.

Sudevan (Sreenivasan)  is a traffic constable, who got caught in his first ever attempt, towards the latter half of his career, at taking a bribe ( in order to fund his daughter's education), and was suspended for the same. A friend takes him to a politically connected official to get his suspension withdrawn- by paying him a bribe! After two months of staying at home, he's finally off to work, and offers his daughter a lift to school, but she turns down the offer. A hurt Sudevan comments to his understanding wife that she must be ashamed of a father who got caught taking bribes.

Abel (Kunjako Boban), a doctor, has taken the day off to celebrate his first wedding anniversary with his wife (Ramya Nambeesan). On his way home, he gives a lift to 2 friends, one of whom is an inveterate womaniser, who delights in extolling his exploits with his latest ladylove.
Maria, (Roma)  Abel's sister is a hotshot senior executive at a radio channel.

Sidharth Shankar (Rehman)  is a superstar, for whom wife, daughter, family-everything else pales into insignificance beside his all important self.  His uncomplaining, long suffering wife (Lena) is the one who nurtures their bright young teenaged  daughter through his absences at home. The daughter is unwell, but the self centered star father goes about his busy schedule  inspite of his daughter being in hospital.

On 16th September, all of them are on their way to their respective assignments.. . .
 Rehaan is getting dropped by Rajiv to the television studio.
Sreenivas is on his way to office to join back after the suspension.
Abel is on his way to join his wife for the anniversary celebrations.
Siddharth gets ready for the release of his new film. . .
 when . . . .
A  lady driver nervously speeding away from dangerous eve teasers on bikes jumps a red signal. Her car sends Rajiv's bike flying and along with it, the riders.  Rehaan, the pillion rider sans helmet, is seriously injured, and goes into coma.

This accident brings another set of people together.

Siddharth's daughter in a hospital in Palakkad, can only live if she has a heart transplant. Rehaan is a matching donor, but the distraught father refuses to take him off the ventilator. However,  Aditi and Rajiv convince the parents to donate.
Then arises the next complication. There are no flights, and the only way to get the heart  ( from Cochin to a Palakkad hospital)  is by road.  All traffic on the route would need to be called to a halt while the vehicle sped at a crazy  pace through crowded towns and villages. 150 km , in under 2 hours, in rush hour traffic.

The city Commissioner Ajmal Nazar ( Anoop Menon) refuses to endanger the lives of millions of citizens for the sake of one life. The risks involved are too great, complications that could arise numerous, chances of success minimal. However an old and venerable Dr.Simon D'Souza ( Joseprakash)  convinces him to do so.
Sudevan offers to drive the vehicle carrying the heart in an effort to wash away the stain of dishonour that clung to him post the bribing incident. Rehaan's best friend and Abel, a doctor, accompany Sudevan.
The minutely monitored, frantic race against time starts.
All goes fine, and the trio make good time, better than expected. And then, the vehicle just-disappears. It is totally untraceable.

What happens next, why the trio go off the radar, how they manage to get back on track, but then lose their way, how the Commissioner cancels the mission in despair, and how the mission gets revived again... whether Rehaan's life does indeed make a difference . . . is the riveting second half of the movie.

The movie has been excellently scripted and edited.  All characters are equally important, and bring their own nuances to the table.Their performances linger on in memory-
the sensitive, idealistic young journalist...
the long-suffering housewife who finally flares up when she needs to secure the life of her daughter... (the role got Lena Best Supporting Actress award )
the anguish of  mature parents who stand to lose their son, at a time when everything is full of promise...
the heartbreakingly difficult decision to finally donate their son's heart

Anoop Menon needs special mention as the cop who needs to make tough decisions under pressure.

Sreenivas excels in his aam aadmi roles, and this movie is no different.  I especially loved that scene in the beginning, when after getting the suspension withdrawn, the politico guy berates him for taking a bribe. Sreenivasan mutely listens, and then is prodded by his 'experienced' friend to give the guy some money. He diffidently hands over the packet, for he's just been warned NOT to give a bribe. And the guy coolly smiles acknowledgement of the amount. Is such a satire of our times. :-)
The special appearance by veteran JosePrakash is indeed special, for the succint way in which he convinces the Commissioner into carrying out this mission.

Rajesh R Pillai , the director has indeed done a commendable job, as also have Bobby-Sanjay- the script writers. The pace of the movie keeps you glued to your seat. It is a total entertainer- with bits or romance, adventure, comedy, tragedy, villainy.. Racy to the last minute, the unexpected twists, if a little far-fetched, still add to the movie. Your heart is in your mouth as you wonder what will happen next, if Rehaan's heart will make it through the Traffic.

The movie won a host of awards- best film, best director, best script, best screenplay, second best actor, trendsetter award(!). It is apparently based on an actual incident in Chennai, and has been remade in Tamil as Chennaiyil Oru Naal. It is now going to be remade in Hindi as well. Quite a tribute to the success of the movie, wouldn't you say?

So slip on the seatbelts, and get ready for the ride, people, Traffic is indeed a movie to be watched!


sher khan said...

i know!!!! this was such an awesome movie :-) btw am a huge fan of anoop menon.. so end up watching all his movies.

Just Like That said...

Did you watch his interview on Kairali (JB Junction) then? Its kind of a Koffee with Karan kind of show, but better, I'd say.
I've watched Beautiful (loved it) and this was the second movie of his I watched.