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'Buddha In A Traffic Jam' Review: Thought-Provoking But Not Evocative Enough
Director: Vivek Agnihotri
Cast: Arunoday Singh, Anupam Kher, Mahi Gill, Pallavi Joshi, Gopal K Singh
After being subjected to protests for live and open-court screenings, Vivek Agnihotri’s ‘Buddha In A Traffic finally hit the theaters today. The film that is largely trying to sell a mindset may not be as successful in selling the ideologies but definitely strong enough to polarise the youth and act as a catalyst for thought-provocation.
The film delineates the strong grip of Naxal activities through the struggle of Vikram Singh (Arunoday Singh) who is caught up in the deepest shackles of conspiracies encircling the age old debate of socialism and capitalism. Vikram, a typical management student studying in one of the top notch B-school of India becomes an overnight sensation after his campaign ‘Pink Bra Campaign’ that aims to fight moral policing. Being particularly interested in one of his professor; Ranjan Batki’s (Anupam Kher) ideology, the 27-year-old Vikram ends up playing ‘a secret game’ with him. Little did he know that this game will put his life to risk.
The film opens with a scene set up during 2000 BC in Bastar and transitions to 2014 BC effectively. Unfolding in form of chapters, the film has everything about Naxalism, Adivasis, capitalism, socialism and more importantly communism in its plot. While the plot is a little shaky at times, there isn’t a single moment that can be called dull in this fiasco-filled film. From the conspirators in jungles and remote areas gearing up to maim the nation to the well-educated faces of Naxalism residing in cities under the flag names of professors, doctors, educationists, engineers, the story serves all of that and all of them.
Arunoday Singh as a foreign-returned student does a good job. Considering the fact that his accent is rich in American flavour, it works well for his character. And even make his monologues convincing for the most part! Anupam as a professor is just himself. Scroll the net for his speeches and you’ll find the exact same man in the reel life here. It’s good to see Pallavi Joshi make a comeback. Playing the role of Sheetal Balki, a housewife-turned-entrepreneur, she pulls off a subtle smiling expression all throughout apart from one scene towards the end where she breaks down. Mahie Gill’s character is something that could have been worked upon. Apart from the fact that there is no detailing of her character, her over-the-top dressing style is also a bit out of place.
The film rides high on music which explores a wide range of tones and words; from pure satirical lyrics to the gloomy yet soulful poetry ‘Chand Roz...’. Another point that deserves a mention is the fact that the filmmaker portrays almost everything as it is; the overlapping of real and reel life can be felt with realistic portrayal of various scenes.
The focus has been so much on driving the ideology home that the film loses its grip on the plot pretty soon. The personal inclination of the filmmaker overpowers the intent of filmmaking so much that the film even ends with a famous Mao quote “Revolution is not a dinner party”. While some monologues make you question everything about the much-needed revolution and your contribution towards society, other scenes just make you familiar with film maker’s extreme efforts to drive the propaganda home.
This film is a kind that you won't mind spending on if you’ve a fair knowledge about the various Naxalite issues and the hidden fiascoes that underline our system. But just in case your ideology belongs to the extreme right wing, this film can be slept over.
To sum up, a scene from the film summarises our feeling for the film; “We love ‘Buddha in a Traffic Jam’ but we aren’t in love with it”.