Sunday, January 30

Traffic is an absolute triumph for Malayalam Cinema!!

Movie - Traffic (Malayalam)
Director - Rajesh Pillai
Producer - Listin Stephen
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - Bobby & Sanjay
Cast - Sreenivasan, Anoop Menon, Rahman, Kunchacko Boban, Vineeth Sreenivasan, Asif Ali, Sayikumar, Vijayakumar, Krishna, Lena, Sandhya, Roma, Remya Nambeeshan, Reena Basheer, Prem Prakash & Jose Prakash
Music - Mejo Joseph, Samson Kottoor
Cinematography - Shyju Khalid
Background Score - Mejo Joseph
Art Director - Saburam
Editor - Mahesh Narayanan
Release Date - 7th January 2011

Warning - This is going to be a fairly long post. So kindly bear with me. :) 

Well, I have no words. After a long time, I've had an overwhelming experience watching a Malayalam film and I'm proud of that. After being through endless criticisms, some people finally woke up and showed us what Malayalam Cinema is actually capable of. Traffic is a path-breaking cinematic experience with one of the most flawless screenplays ever written in Malayalam Cinema. Perhaps the first movie with an ensemble cast and no conventional hero/heroine, the script and direction are the heroes of this film. This movie took me through a complete emotional roller coaster. I experienced sorrow, tension, adrenalin rushes, anxiety and elation in those two hours I spent inside the hall watching this movie. I didnt even want the interval to happen, something which I've felt while watching only one other movie - Inception. 

Traffic follows a multiple narrative structure. It tells the tale of many people affected by a road accident at a traffic signal. Inspired by a true event, the entire narrative of Traffic is set in one day, 16th of September where fate plays a game in which the lives of many people become interconnected. A heart transplant surgery is to be performed and the live heart is to be transported from Kochi to Palakkad within a limited time of 2 hours. How this is done, essentially forms the core of this movie. It is a road movie, an action thriller and an emotional drama, all rolled into one. 

The screenplay by the brothers Bobby & Sanjay is flawless to say the least and it is certainly the backbone of this feature film. Traffic is just their third film after the very impressive and effective Ente Veedu Appontem and Notebook, and they've shown such maturity and innovation in their writing that many of our most experienced writers cant even imagine matching up to. There 2 young gentlemen are the future of the Malayalam film industry which was dying without good writers. Rajesh Pillai, who made a forgettable debut through Hridayathil Sookshikkan some years back, makes a thunderous impact with his second directorial venture. He has been able to do full justice to the excellent script by the writers and one can say without a tinge of doubt that no other director, however experienced he might be cannot do a better job than what Rajesh has done for this film. So Rajesh, Bobby & Sanjay, here's a bow from a film lover who feels proud seeing a masterpiece in his language after such a long time. 

Each and every member of the cast has his/her moment of glory in the film. The film does not have a hero or heroine and each character is as important as the other. Remya Nambeeshan who has evolved into a beautiful young lady makes a mark. Roma, acting after a brief gap, does quite well and does not overact. Sandhya also gives a decent performance. But among the ladies, it is Lena who plays the superstar Siddharth's wife who makes a solid impact. She shows that she has immense potential and no one had really bothered to tap into that until now. Her break-down over the phone in the second half leaves you stunned and disturbed at the same time. That scene alone can make all our top-line actresses put their head down in shame. The lady who played Vineeth's mother and the other new girls who made their debut through the film were also effective. 

Among the men, there is the veteran actor and uncle of the writers, Jose Prakash making a film appearance after a really long time and his role essentially becomes the starting point and the inspiration for the main plot of the movie. The writers' father Prem Prakash also has a good role of that of a surgeon who makes the proposition of this heart transplant. Vineeth Sreenivasan's Reyhaan stays with us till the end of the movie as a sorrow. Vineeth gives a fine, natural performance in the very little screen time that he's got. Asif, who plays his dedicated best friend, is excellent and matches up to the amazing talent around him in every scene, thereby showing great promise. Anoop Menon plays the Kochi City Commissioner who takes up this extremely risky operation under his responsibility and I must say, that it is his second best performance till date after his award winning act in Thirakkatha. He represents the audience and their tension and anxiety throughout the movie and when his mission succeeds, we feel as happy and proud as he feels. Watch out for his performance in the single shot in the interval scene and the one towards the end where he stands there with tears in his eyes after his mission turns into a success. Rahman plays the arrogant superstar with elan and reminds us of one of our favourite superstars at many instances. He is super-effective in the scenes towards the end of the movie. Sreenivasan as the cop who takes up the responsibility of the mission to get back his lost pride and honour, is as bankable as he always is. He is someone whom Malayalis blindly trust, and that is exactly why his casting as the key character in this movie works big time. I've said this before and I'm saying it again - Kunchacko Boban is not the chocolate boy we saw in Aniyathipravu and Niram anymore. He has matured into an absolutely wonderful actor who can play any role with consummate ease. He proved that in Elsamma and with his performance as a doctor guilty of his own conscience  in Traffic, he has just reinstated that fact. This actor must be given due recognition and much more such opportunities to showcase his talent. He is just too good. And the best among the lot is none other than Sayikumar, who plays Vineeth's father. Each scene he appeared, he managed to make my eyes moist as I could feel the exact pain that his character was going through. An absolute triumph by the veteran actor in such a short role. Vijayakumar and Krishna were also good in their respective supporting roles. 

A lot of movies claim to be edge of the seat thrillers with nail biting action, but there would be nothing like that when we watch those films. But Traffic, despite being heavily loaded with emotions, is an action packed thriller which you can watch only with bated breath. My eyes were glued to the screen and many a times, I couldnt handle the tension and I remember clutching on to the seat, literally sitting on its edge. Inception did that to me last, and I dont have a memory of a Malayalam film doing that to me, ever. Apart from Rajesh Pillai's deft direction, this is also a result of the excellent work by the technical crew of the film. The movie is so engrossing and engaging that it is difficult to pay attention to the technical aspects of the film in detail. Camerawork by Shyju Khalid is the best this movie could have asked for. He takes us in between the action with his shots and editor Mahesh Narayanan confirms that the audience feels right in the middle of the entire action of the plot. The movie is so tightly scripted and edited that even a minute lesser or extra would have done a lot of damage. After going through all these emotions, action, tension and anxiety and reaching a finale, Mejo Joseph plays the soul-stirring theme music of the film and we cant help but feel elated just like the characters feel at that point. The song right at the beginning of the film was also very good and gave a peek into the lives of all the characters. 

Traffic shows how a disaster can be turned into a noble deed when good people come together and work towards it putting all their heart into it. It starts with specific characters and by the end of it, the entire society becomes involved and concerned about the situation and tries to do whatever little they can towards making this mission a success. A rock solid screenplay with no loose ends, impeccable work by the director and his technical crew and awe-inspiring performances by the actors make this one of the best movies ever made in Malayalam Cinema. The screenplay of this movie should be studied academically by people who are interested in making innovative cinema. People who've been complaining of the deterioration of Malayalam Cinema can feel relieved now, our cinema is in safe hands with the likes of Bobby, Sanjay and Rajesh Pillai. Traffic is perhaps the only movie in the last 5 years to be unanimously liked by people across the state, after Udayanaanu Thaaram & Classmates, and I can proudly say that this movie is even better than those two also. So once again, Hats off to Rajesh Pillai, Bobby, Sanjay and the entire team of Traffic. You've done us proud and given us reason to believe that there's still a future for Malayalam Cinema. I'm proud to say that I know many people who were associated with this film. Thank you for this movie!! 

Rating - 4.75/5


  1. the review was as good as the movie itself, and i believe theres not a greater compliment than that...

  2. you said the screenplay needs to be studied accademically, wish i could study your brain wireing pattern the same way, to know where all the creativity and skill with words come from..

  3. awesome review man.. u r one of the writers i look forward to now for unbiased reviews...
    anyways, gotto catch this "wonder film" of malayalam this coming weekend in NY..

  4. Just too brilliant !

    After Paleri, I thought this is another different revolution in Mal industry with a totally different genre & treatment...Hats off to the whole crew..

  5. thank u dhanish and vignesh. and dhanish, missing this would be a sin. :)

  6. Vivek,

    Awesome review as always...whenever i plan to go for a movie i just come to this website to see your review..hats off man..

    by the way, from which true incident was this movie inspired from??

    Libin Benedict

  7. Excellent Review!!!
    Thinks to go for TRaffic once again,after reading this review....

  8. This seems to be one movie that I shouldn't miss. My parents had got me cds of some latest Malayalam movies and I was rather appalled at what I got to see. Sanju