Traffic Signal


Traffic Signal is the third film in a trilogy of expose films by Madhur Bhandarkar. Madhur’s films deal with subjects that are reality based but his treatment includes both real as well as shock value content. Traffic Signal deals with the lives of different people who make their living at the signal, the beggar boy, the hooker, the drug addict, the little kids who sell flowers, the eunuchs etc. It also aims to expose the ‘begging industry’, how all these people have to pay a bribe to a local goon who in turn has connections with local politicians. The film definitely has some shocking and touching moments but unfortunately the film has some major flaws like its slow pace which endlessly drags on exploring each character’s life in depth, also there is no definite script or story to the film but instead it seems like various scenes are thrown in together. Also the climax and the actual twist in the film are depicted only towards the end. Madhur takes too long to put forth his viewpoint and drags the story around for too long. Also the end is unconvincing and indefinite. Nonetheless a few characters have been portrayed quite well and their performances too are quite convincing, hence the film is merely average.

The film has been directed by Madhur Bhandarkar and belongs to the realistic genre of films. It stars Kunal Khemu, Neetu Chandra, Konkana Sen Sharma, Ranvir Shorey, Sudhir Mishra etc. The script and screenplay have been done by Madhur Bhandarkar and Sachin Yardi.

The Traffic Signal is inhabited by different people and Silisila (Kunal) an orphan who earlier begged here is just one of them. Now Silsila has become a manager in the treacherous ‘begging industry’ and collects ‘hafta’ or bribe from the others at the traffic signal, the small kids who sell flowers, the eunuchs, the beggars etc. Silsila does not spare anyone when it comes to collecting money but he is also a good person at heart and considers all these people a part of his family. Rani (Neetu Chandra) makes her living at the traffic Signal by selling clothes to some designers, Noorie (Konkana) is a sex worker and often has to pay her bribe to the local police by using her body. Then there is the drug addict Dominic (Ranvir) whose life has gone off course. All these people try to make a living at the traffic signal but they all also have to shell out a payment or ‘hafta’ to continue making their livelihood at the signal.

Silsila reports to Jaffar another hafta collector and they are part of the begging industry led by a local goon Haji (Sudhir Mishra). Haji also networks with politicians and is a part of larger scams. There are several other characters who make a living at the traffic Signal and are a part of the begging industry. However Silsila unwittingly gets involved in the politics of the begging industry and is made a scapegoat in the plans of Haji and the politician who want to build a flyover for their own selfish motives. Silsila will not be able to take on a local goon and a politician but he has no choice but to struggle and emerge. Will Silsila manage to get out of this conspiracy, will he survive, what will become of all the people making their living at the traffic signal if it is demolished to make a flyover?

Madhur manages to point out some stark realities that take place at a traffic signal; of course some of them go a bit overboard and at times seem over sensational. Madhur delves deeply into the lives of some of his characters but some of the characters actions don’t look very convincing, like the young boy who keeps spending his earnings on calling long distance to check if his parents have survived the Tsunami, the boy who keeps spending his money on fairness creams etc. Some of the characters also seem unrealistic like the socialite who keeps turning up at the traffic signal in her car. In his attempt to depict the lives of his characters at the traffic signal he tends to forget the attempt to expose the begging industry and the expose comes in only towards the latter part of the film. Also the personal problems of each character at the traffic signal are given more importance than any other aspect. The script seems extremely weak and lacks a definite direction; the screenplay too suffers as it is slow and not gripping in its entirety. He attempts to fit in various extremely diverse short stories into one script but is not very convincing.

However there are some tracks in the film that leave a mark, Konkana and Ranvir’s track of a prostitute and a drug addict liking her seems emotional and touching. There are a few other characters who leave a mark with their realistic portrayals. The subject that Madhur Bhandarkar has chosen is realistic and has a lot of scope. Towards the latter part of the film, the climax does revive the film a bit. The look and feel of the film is realistic and looks apt. The film does not preach or take sides as to what is right or wrong but Madhur tries to give it an objective look.

But the script is weak, lacks a strong storyline and the screenplay lacks direction and is relatively slow paced. Also the end of the film is not satisfying from the viewers point and also looks abrupt. The attire, make up and look of the characters is extremely good and in keeping with the characters in the film, cinematography by Mahesh Limaye too is good and aptly done. The music by Shamir Tandon is just about average and the song ‘yeh zindagi hai to kya zindagi hai’ is an average number. The dialogues have some witty lines and are average. Performances overall are average and the actors seem to have done a fair job.

Kunal Khemu looks the character he plays and also gives a fairly decent performance for his second film; he definitely has a lot of hidden potential. Neetu Chandra is just about average in her performance. Konkana Sen is first rate and delivers a good performance, Ranvir as the drug addict too gives a very touching performance. Sudhir Mishra is average, Upendra Limaye is average too and Manoj Joshi is good.

Traffic Signal comes from a director Madhur Bhandarkar who has already proved himself immensely with his last two films, but it is a film that will have a select set of audiences as it deals with realistic cinema. The script and screenplay do have its weak points but it still has some interesting content and hence is an average film. At the box-office the film may make it to the average mark due to the Madhur Bhandarkar expose brand stamp.

Related Bollywood Pictures

  • Traffic Signal - Premiere
  • Traffic Signal Music Launch