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Traffic  : A Heart On The Highway
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Friday, May 6, 2016
Rajesh Pillai
Manoj Bajpayee, Jimmy Shergill, Divya Dutta, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Parambrata Chatterjee

I’d say straightaway that late director Rajesh Pillai’s heart was in the right place when he made this movie first in Malayalam and then in Hindi. Two sound points work in its favour: firstly, a film on the green corridor where an organ is sent super quick by road to reach a patient awaiting life-saving transplant surgery, is both a noble and a necessary theme. Secondly, Pillai has a first-rate cast of actors to take forward this tale of unrelated characters who converge to make way for the heart on the highway.


June 25 is D-day for all the main players when Rehan, a rookie journalist on his first assignment, meets with a fatal accident. Helmetless, Rehan was on his way to interview over-busy superstar Dev Kapoor.


The pivotal points are Rehan who’s brain dead, Riya, the superstar’s ailing daughter who needs a heart transplant by evening and havaldar Godbole who volunteers to drive the newly-harvested heart from Mumbai to Pune within two-and-a-half hours. The weather’s dodgy, so a chopper is out of the question but the drive is equally tricky.


At the Mumbai end, Rehan’s parents played by Sachin Khedekar and Kitu Gidwani have to take the heartrending decision to turn off the life support and allow their son’s heart to be donated. In Pune, Prasonjit and Divya Dutta have heart-stopping moments while they await a donor for their daughter.


At the wheel is Godbole played with subtlety by the ever-reliable Manoj Bajpayee. A lot of other fine actors like the immensely likeable Parambrata Chatterjee as a doctor accompanying the heart while his own heart is breaking on the home front and polished Jimmy Sheirgill as the Traffic Commissioner, embellish every moment with their presence.    


Where red lights hold up the flow of Pillai’s Traffic are some old clichés like the busy superstar whose hubris must be humbled. There are forced points scored on communal amity by having Godbole drive through Aslambhai’s area or Muslim boy Rehan’s heart giving life to Kapoor’s daughter.  The lecture Vikram Gokhale as head of the Pune hospital gives Jimmy Sheirgill is important but should’ve been crisper. Also, by the time this film has reached the theatres, the green corridor is already a successful reality and therefore, not such a novelty.


But the late Rajesh Pillai will be missed for we could do with more of his brand of heartwarming cinema.


For a fine set of actors who put their hearts into an important story, Traffic gets a 3* rating.


Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author

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