Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Traffic signal: A dark comedy on India's urban poor

Madhur Bhandarkar is always interested in revealing the true picture of the society. He represents the normal day to day events in such a way that they become things of great significance. Traffic signal is based on the poor people in India who earns their livelihood by working around traffic signals in Mumbai. According to Madhur, this film is the last installment of his trilogy on Mumbai. The previous two are Page 3 and Corporate. Traffic signal is a dark comedy. The movie contains sixty characters. The central characters are played by Kunal Khemu and Neetu Chandra. Kunal Khemu is a collector who collects money from the street people and gives them to his mafia boss. Neetu is a village girl who comes to the city to earn money. India Glitz reports:

'Traffic Signal' tells that tale of about 60 odd characters who have their world centered on this place. Each of them have their own life and how they make it happen on the road is what the film is all about.

Silsila [Kunal Khemu], one of these 60 characters is a Manager by profession. Well almost! As a 'hafta' collector who is called a Manager and has been assigned the responsibility of collecting money from all those who conducted their 'business' at the signal, he was a young guy with a heart of gold who cared for all those who were a part of his 'signal' family! He too was loved by all and was protected by his mentor Jaffar, who was also the collector of his region.

Together, Silsila and Jaffar were a part of the bigger nexus as they worked for Haji, a mafia don who had his own reporting line to the politicians. An entire process of money movement came into picture as it moved from one channel to second, from second to third, from third to fourth and so on. In the end, there were people even at the top who got their share of moolah collected from the all those who made their livelihood on the traffic signal.

At this signal arrives Rani [Neetu Chandra], a girl of Gujarati origin, who sells embroidery stuff on the pavements. Coming all the way to Mumbai to make good money and return back to her native place, she gets into a little tussle with Silsila as he makes her aware about the bare necessity of sharing her profits as a part of the 'hafta'. Rani is quite naturally upset but as days pass by, she understands the reasons behind these demands and eventually also falls in love with Silsila.

In Bollywood film industry, Madhur Bhandarkar is famous for his realistic film making. Page-3 reveals the aspiring boys and girls who come to Bombay with lots of dreams. Corporate depicts the greed of human nature: How the big companies make money destroying people’s lives. It is very common in countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh where one would see different kinds of people gather and work around a traffic signal in big cities: beggars, food sellers etc. Traffic Signal tells the stories of these poor people. I am hopeful that, like the previous films, this one would also be well accepted by the critics and audience.