Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Traffic Signal: The Buck Stops here

In the rigmarole that our regular lives are, how often do we have experiences which make us examine the things we take for granted and be reassured by their presence. Such experiences can be called cathartic experiences when you are comforted by the realities that exist. Traffic Signal, the new Madhur Bhandarkar film in the theatres was one such experience for me.

I have often been asked by people do I take Hindi films so seriously. I have never asked myself the question as to why I write about films? The above movie prompted me to think about it. The answer I can give is that I enjoy films; I enjoy talking about it and so decided to get a little ambitious and write about them and share my thoughts.

For people who have already watched Traffic Signal, I doubt you want to read this review or any review of the movie. I empathise with you and I totally understand your position. For those who havent, take my advice, skip the movie and just read this review and I assure you, for a few minutes of your time, I can save you a nice sum of money, time, effort and three hours of what I can only call as the most amazingly excruciating experience of my cinematic life.

Traffic Signal grates on the atleast three of the many senses human beings have been endowed with. It hurts the eyes, the ears and most importantly any sense of aesthetics. Traffic Signal, is the latest outing of the 'art-mainstream' film maker Bhandarkar and it is his exercise in social realist cinema. But like the reputation that he carries Bhandarkar was not content with merely giving us the 22nd century version of a Salaam Bombay, he decided to mix the realism of Salaam Bombay with the happy family of Kabhi Khusi Kabhi Gum. The film is about the people who live in and around Traffic Signals and eke out a hard life through various means. The lead actor Kunal Khemu, who I remember as a cute child artist from the Aamir Khan ghost directed film Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke, actually went to meet people who live at such signals to prepare for his role. I really have not heard anything more ridiculous than that especially considering the fact that one saw the result of his effort. This preparation for the role, I-met-taxidrivers-to-prepare-for-my-role-as-a-taxidriver is passed on in Bombay as method acting.

The Mumbai tapori lingo, the bidi smoking characters, have never been reduced to such levels of abuse and ridicule as in Traffic Signal. It is during times like these that the enlightened despot in me raises its ugly head and overwhelms my otherwise liberal outlook towards life. I suggest we tie Madhur Bhandarkar at a Traffic Signal and whip him or better still we cripple him and make him beg at such signals or maybe sell copies of Mid-Day!

There is nothing to can say about the movie, the plot and the characterization of the movie has never mattered so little. The film is so offensive in its attempt at the filmy portrayal of perhaps the people who have probably the most difficult jobs of being the poorest in a third world city. Hypocrisy is not the sole claim of any single race, nation, and religion but when push comes to shove, I would gladly hand over the crown to our social realist film makers. David Dhawan has never looked so innocent, not even in his double entendre, Mehul Kumar a complete entertainer and Anil Sharma, a master showman when compared to Bhandarkar’s skills and big talk.

Mystery of the Movie: What was Sudhir Mishra (director, Is Raat ki Subah Nahi, Hazaar Khwaisain Aisi) doing in the film? He plays the villian, a bhai. WHY?


svety said...

baap re baap.....

Abhigyan said...

I also don't think as highly of Bhandarkar as most do (though haven't seen Chandni Bar). But I think I will still risk my money and time, in spite of your advice. By the way, your favourite Rajeev Masand has given the movie an equally glowing review, unlike most others. Check that out at

And I did not get why this movie clarified to you why you watch Hindi movies? To face such torture??