Cinema has been an agent of change in the past, pulling at the conscience of the movie buff, without sacrificing the enjoyment quotient, but there have been very few such responsible films in the recent past. The Malayalam film Traffic , released in 2011 is an exception, and now its remake in Tamil as Chennaieil oru naal by Radhika Sarath Kumar and Listin Stephen is a movie with a message. It tells you that accidents can happen to anyone and cause a chain reaction, and makes a strong case for organ donation. As actor Suriya says in the last frame, let your souls go to heaven and organs to human beings.
Of course, such a theme could turn out to be preachy or boring , but a neat screenplay and some good acting by practically the entire cast keep tedium at bay. The story is based on a real life incident in Chennai a few years ago, where an brain dead accident victim's organs were rushed by road from Chennai to Vellore (170 km), after traffic police created a 'green corridor' ( of synchronized traffic signals).
Karthik (Sachin) is a journalist whose first assignment is to interview star actor Gautham Krishna (Prakashraj) , but on the way he is involved in an accident, caused by an agitated girl jumping the red signal because of eve- teasing. His parents Jaya Prakash and Lakshmi Ramakrishnan and his girl friend Aditi (Parvathi) are shattered when they realize he is brain dead. Meanwhile Gautham Krishna's daughter Riya is on death bed and only a donor heart can save her. The parents finally agree but traffic police commissioner Sundara Pandian (Sharat Kumar) is reluctant to embark on transporting the organ since feels the window of transfer is too short. However, he rises to the occasion , and when a recently suspended but reinstated traffic cop Satyamoorthy (Cheran) volunteers to drive as a way of atoning for his past, the show is on the road. Television and fm channels closely track the van but it goes off the radar. The twist in the tale is caused by Dr Robin (Prasanna), who has his own inner demons to fight.
The climax is everything a commercial pot boiler can come up with . You enjoy the movie thoroughly thanks to some slick editing by Mahesh Narayan and slicker camerawork by Shehnath Jalal. Most of the crew , barring the lyricists Na Muthukumar and Arivumathi, had worked in the original film. On the downside, the film takes its own time to warm up, but it races to a finish in under two hours. The half a dozen songs fail to make an impression.
Verdict : Message in the movie