Sunday, April 17, 2011

Traffic Review - Malayalam Movie Review

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A pacy, interesting film from Rajesh Pillai – that’s what I’d say and many cheers to the writers - Bobby and Sanjay! The visuals by Shyju Khalid are awesome, so is the music. It is almost unbelievable that Rajesh Pillai has made such a remarkable comeback, following the pathetic debut that he had made with the movie Hridayathil Sookshikkan – a movie that is worth not remembering at all. He’s made the best kind of comeback in the movie industry – churning out a big superhit.  

Traffic Malayalam Movie Review: The Story
The story unfolds on a day that changes the lives of four families whose diverse lives cross paths because of an accident that takes place, something we can easily relate to.

It begins with a young budding journalist, Rehan (starring Vineeth Sreenivasan) is thrilled to conduct his first interview with a super star (starring actor Rahman). Alongwith his best friend, Rajeev (starring Asif Ali - budding talent, great potential), Rehan sets out to conduct the interview. Aditi (starring Kaadhal Sandhya), is the special girl in Rehan's life though she is struggling emotionally after her divorce, and she sees him off. Meanwhile, Dr. Abel (Kunchacko Boban) travels with his dear friend (starring Krishna) with plans to surprise his wife Shwetha (starring Remya Nambeesan) with a brand new car to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

Two central characters are played by Sreenivasan as Sudevan, a police constable who resumes service after suspension for having accepted bribes and Rahman donning the role of a superstar named Siddharth, and the role of his wife is played by Lena, who is constantly worried about their daughter’s critical health condition. A small but meaty role is played by Roma as Miriam, Manager at an FM Radio station.

Traffic Malayalam Movie Review: Urban Life in Kerala

On the way, there is an accident that throws into our focus several diverse issues touching the lives of those who are affected. The ripple effect is captured beautifully, so are the implications. Bobby and Sanjay's script reveals some of the most disturbing problems facing the growing elite class in Kerala, a conservative state once known for its simple and healthy way of life but fast becoming a highly material state, where cyber crimes and divorce rates are competing neck-to-neck along with pornography rackets that target upper class girls and making it unsafe for women to travel in and let alone, have ice creams in ice cream parlors!

For example, it exposes the social hypocrisy and ‘recommendation’ malaise that is hugely spreading across Kerala. For everything and anything, we have the tendency to get recommendations. In this film, a police constable who was suspended for taking bribes uses local political pressure to get back into service again. Again, another instance in the same movie shows how a boy’s father is harassed by politicians and bureaucrats who come with recommendations asking for the boy’s life to be permitted to end! Then, again, the police force in the state is pressurized by political and medical recommendation to take a huge risk in manipulating traffic to safeguard the interest of an influential Superstar. In this movie, every minute is made to count because it involves constant twists and turns and as a film viewer, you wouldn’t like to miss any of it. 

While the habits and lifestyles of the growing upper middle class of Kerala is interesting to watch, it is hardly inspiring because they get things done with an unfair advantage, that too ironically, in a Communist State! The paradox is unfortunate and it tells us that those who have power, whether as media, film stars, politicians or doctors, can get what they want using their power of influence and the rest of us end up getting nothing.

Traffic Malayalam Movie Review: Some brilliant performances and some are not 
In this movie, the story telling was brilliant and one of the best written screenplays in recent years. 

We saw some brilliant performances from Sai Kumar, Sreenivasan, Sandhya and in particular, Anoop Menon, whose performance was subtle, classy and totally extracting the best out of him as an artist.

Personally, I felt that the characterization of certain roles could have been exploited fully and been better etched out by the writers, if they had looked beyond storytelling and towards the growth of the actors involved. Writers and directors share the responsibility of extracting the best out of their characters, a rare strength displayed by wiser veterans like MT Vasudevan Nair, Lohitha Das and others.

For example, the role played by Kunchako Boban, who is an actor with several strengths, was not good enough to add depth and substance to the body of work that he has done earlier. His key strengths were not exploited fully.

The role of Remya Nambisan is vague and unclear, giving us no insight that justifies her behavior in the latter part of the movie. But I have to say this: she looks stunning in her new sexy avatar. She has not had such a sensational makeover in any Malayalam movie before Traffic. 

A drawback in the Traffic movie plot - All the assumptions we make are from the song sequences and that is not a fair way of depicting a character that triggers extreme reactions towards the second half of the movie.


Traffic Malayalam Movie Review: Rehman & Lena
Rehman is natural and definitely effortless in depicting the obvious snobbery of a super star. His acting is flawless, as always. However, as a loyal Rehman fan, I would prefer not to see him doing negative roles. 

Lena too acts well in some scenes where her maternal instincts take over her complacence but there is clear inconsistency in the overall sketching of her character. At most times, she resists her husband’s narcissism and is critical of her husband’s ‘super star’ attitude but when it comes to her daughter, she becomes more assertive of exploiting his stardom to get over regulatory obstacles.

Perhaps this can be justified as how any normal mother would behave, but then as a star wife, she constantly complains and never encourages her husband’s work, yet she takes utmost advantage of that to keep her daughter alive. Something is just not consistent in the character sketching. Or perhaps, the writers were attempting to portray her as a woman of strengths and weaknesses with equal weightage.

Traffic Malayalam Movie Review: My Verdict
Like in a painting, a book or even a commercial advertisement, as a film viewer, I look forward to receiving a hidden message through a movie. Sometimes, the message is there and it is up to the viewer to decode it and at other times, it is right there, staring at you in the face but in an unforgettable way. The films made by some of Malayalam’s classic directors such as Padmarajan, Bharathan, Sibi Malayil and Sathyan Anthikad are examples of this school of thought. This movie had everythingelse.

Traffic Malayalam movie is a good, thought provoking, one-time watch and best seen in theaters.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

great review ..Lena's character was fake..I was thinking about it..

Jzt 4 me... said...

Uhm...even I loved the movie...

Still some things was too much to accept...especially, the scene where they go thru some Chawls and all...

And Lena...lol..some of her dialogues at the end of the movie, really made the audience to Booohhh..at her..

But then, this is one movie, where I saw the audience appluading even after the movie closed title...

Swapna Raghu Sanand said...

@Anonymous - Good to hear I am not the only one who felt the characterization could have been better.

@Jzt4me - True. I too felt the scenes relating to the chawls were unrealistic.

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