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
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*
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author