Film: Traffic Signal
Director: Madhur Bhandarkar
Cast: Kunal Khemu, Konkona Sen Sharma, Ranvir Shorey, Sudir Mishra, Neetu Chandra
Traffic Signal marks the completion of the trilogy director Madhur Bhandarkar set out to make (the other two being Corporate and Page 3).
The movie dwells upon the networked lives of street urchins and chiefly Silsila (Kunal Khemu), who is the leader of the pack.
To break it down and provide you with crux of the story, it is that of Silsila who is responsible for gathering the weekly collections from everyone at the signal. He is caught amidst his love and high regard for the survival of his people and awe for Bhaijaan (Sudhir Mishra). The admiration turns to contempt when he discovers that Bhaijaan, who had assured them of no killings, was in fact the one who ordered the shootout at the signal in the first place.
On the other hand this movie throws light on prostitution too. Noori (Konkona Sen Sharma), a prostitute, is busy making men proud of their manhood and is too busy to acknowledge the love of doped out Dominique (Ranvir Shorey). It is not until his death that one sees the acknowledgement in NooriÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s eyes, the moment the tears start streaming.
This slice of life movie depicts the preparation undertaken by beggars and street urchins to look the way they look and act (literally) the way they do. The movie also goes to the extent of breaking down all inhibitions one would have about these people.
What is evident is the research that has been undertaken before scripting the film. Minute details such as mannerisms and the language used are well brought out through the film. On watching the film you are left astonished by the fact that members of the society who were and in some places are looked down upon are actually the movers of the very same society.
The director has managed to bring out natural performances from the actors; Kunal Khemu has shone like a star and is certainly the surprise package of the entire film. The others are their usual best, including Konkona Sen Sharma and Ranvir Shorey who need no proof of talent. The bolt from the blue was Sudhir MishraÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s role as Bhaijaan, after a brief appearance in Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi, it marks his return to the silver screen as an actor, and might I add a good one at that.
Interestingly, Bhandarkar confirms that he has paid homage to his films, not sparing even those that are only announced as yet. Dialogues in certain scenes incorporate references of Page 3, Chandini Bar and his forthcoming film Fashion. One even saw a neon lit board of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Chandini Bar 2ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ possibly indicating one in the making.
What others need to learn from Bhandarkar is perhaps how to use in-film placements. This film was not devoid of product placements but they certainly were not jarring and instead supplemented a sense of realism to the movie experience. In-film placements included brands like Mid-Day, Star News and Cinemax. The brands blended into the film perfectly.
If you were to find a problem with the film, here is wishing you all the best in finding it. Speaking of it, the only possible boo-boo was perhaps the sudden shots of brightness due to the scene lightings, but that really does not count.
Traffic Signal gets two thumbs up, for being a stark depiction of reality on celluloid.
What one learns from Traffic Signal:
1) Think twice before dipping your hand into your pocket to give beggars change
2) It is normal to wait impatiently for his forthcoming film Fashion
3) Song and dance need not be the end all of a good film
4) You are a contributor to the richness of a once upon a time beggar (Go ahead and claim your share)
5) Slice of life films always work, they are crowd pullers
6) At the signal, if you are in a car roll up your windows or if in a rickshaw pretend to sleep (Bikers sorry, nothing that you can do)!