The primary reason to go for this movie was because we didn't get tickets for "The Guru'. Mani Ratnam is an all time favourite. Having not been able to see it for this long after the release was a torture indeed. Heck tried Inox and PVR but as usual if you don’t plan in advance for the weekend you don’t stand a chance of getting tickets at either of the multiplexes.
Here's a lesson for marketers, in the long run the mall which has a multiplex that shows the largest variety of good movies will be the one chosen by the public and all the stores in the mall will benefit from the associated business. Think I should give this theory a name, Good Movies, More Footfalls!
Anyways, the movie at hand, Traffic Signal-Directed by Madhur Bandarkar, Starring Konkona Sen. These are truly the only two names I knew and the only ones that stood out also, the others have done a decent job at best. The idea of interspersing stories and pushing the plot is an interesting ploy. You get the feeling that 'traffic signal' is a recollection of stories/urban gossip by various individuals which has been woven into a movie. Is it really the stories of scores of workers at the traffic signals? I don’t know, ironically after watching the movie on the way back, a guy approached us at the traffic signal trying to sell us those cheap tissue paper. I was all stocked up and so, said no!
Silsila is the main character in this pot pourri, a dumb boy who becomes a brave man when he decides to stand up to the baddies although he inadvertently aided their schemes. We are shown glimpses of everyday ingenuity by these traffic stop dwellers to hoodwink the public. The boy who begs for money to bury his father, with a pretend corpse on the other side of the road for those who demand proof! The college dropout who cons people in between his fixes (by the way a role underplayed to perfection) , the prostitute who hates working for free. Surprisingly the movie is bereft of holier than thou ness, and most of these people are quite happy with their current lifestyle. No 'I should rise above my lifestyle' jingoism. The script plays to the gallery, the beating up of the bank fellows being a case in point. Really unnecessary but something most people who are not in the high pressure sales jobs would like to do to all telemarketers. Another dig at marketers with the fairness cream episode thereby equating the large advertising behemoths with common shindigs. As always, the love story is there and so is the honest officer that is killed by the mafia. There is a disclaimer at the start of the movie which states that 'this' effort is not to pass value judgements on the lifestyle of these people but in fact appreciates their stories (defensive about exploiting their stories to make money for yourself, Madhur???). The one thing that Mr. Bhandarkar is a master at is to tear open the underbelly of dirtiness and present it with an appalling lack of tact, the man who lasciviously stares at a woman breast feeding her child, the children selling flowers who are pawed by lusty men, the list goes on...
But do we empathize with the street dwellers now that we are enlightened about their crooked ways? Would it make you reach out for your wallet the next time you are at a traffic signal or will you just sneer knowingly and roll up your windows. Somewhere along the way maybe it just hardens the cynic in you!