Touted as a multi-narrative thriller film, Traffic has hit the screens amid low expectations. This V-Day film is quite a treat to watch if you don't expect much more than a few souls redeeming themselves in a life-and-death situation. Although a thriller is ritually expected to throw up nail-biting moments, Traffic is not much about edge-of-the-seat moments as it is about human emotions detailed in not a dramatic fashion.
Based on a true incident which took place in the city of Chennai, this one is an adaptation of a 2011 Malayalam film. Released in Tamil as Chennaieil Oru Naal (meaning 'A day in Chennai') in March 2013, Traffic less than 2 hours long. It takes some time and attention to connect with more than two threads.
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) (in Telugu version, it is Hyderabad to Kodad), after traffic police created a 'green corridor' ( of synchronized traffic signals).
Karthik Vishwanathan (Sachin) is a journalist whose first assignment is to interview star actor Gautham Krishna (Prakash Raj) , 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, 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.
In trying to infuse some regular elements (which are by no way forced), the director should have shown more imagination, especially in visualizing and conceptualising the songs.
Cheran's subtle performance stands out. Prakash Raj is good as an unsentimental superstar, but the fact that he did not dub for himself is bad news. Suriya's cameo would not have meant much if not for delivering the humane message.
Production values are top notch. The performances are definitely adequate; some emotions are understated in an inappropriate manner at places.
Verdict: A slice-of-life film that gives an exciting movie-watching experience.