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Traffic Signal is worth a watch – a movie review

February 9, 2007

Traffic Signal is worth a watch. The film got bad reviews and that was one of the reasons I didn’t go for the film at first. Well, I liked the film. I don’t know why people said it doesn’t have a story because it very definitely does. The story is one of hope. It tells us how even in the worst of human circumstances, character and integrity can survive.
The movie also shows you how the Mumbai beggars live. We get to know the intimate details of their lives, the fact that they are controlled by the mafia, which in turn pays the politicians. Nothing new really as everyone knows that begging is an organised racket…but it was the Madhur Bhandarkar’s direction which brought the world at the traffic signal alive. Most of the characters looked and acted their part.
Bhandarkar has portrayed the beggars as victims, not exploiters. For example the boy who has been nick-named Tsunami is a ten-year from the Tsunami hit area who comes to to Mumbai as his parents went missing in the Tsunami. Actually they are dead – but as the compensation money has been eaten up by corrupt officials they are declared ‘missing.’ So every week the boy spends the little money he has to telephone officials in Chennai to ask if his parents have been found.
All the characters have a sad story to tell. The protagonist Silsila (Kunal Khemu) has been born and brought up on the streets. Rani (Neetu Chandra) the girl from Gujarat sells clothes on the streets of Mumbai. The prostitute (played very well by Konkana Sen Sharma) is in love with the drug addict. Sure, there are several small stories running concurrently in the movie but that does not take away from what I saw as the theme of the movie and its message – that the beggars are victims of a corrupt system and that inspite of their miserable lives, hope and love and truth survive.
Silsila decides to testify against the underworld don who organises the killing of a good politician. That was what this movie was really about. If more people like Silsila came forward it would help the system to change. But can we really blame people if they don’t because they fear for their life? How can we expect people who lead such lives to play hero? That is what makes Silsila larger than life…a real hero.
Well, the movie is entertaining in parts and sad in parts. But all in all, a decent film. Not earth-shaking cinema by any means, but it definitely does not deserve all the poor reviews it recieved.

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