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Traffic Signal is a 2007 Indian drama film directed by Madhur Bhandarkar, who is known for his gritty and realistic portrayals of contemporary Indian society. The movie features an ensemble cast of talented actors, including Kunal Kemmu, Nitu Chandra, and Upendra Limaye, who bring to life the stories of various people who gather around a traffic signal in Mumbai, India.
The movie centers on the lives of the people who come to the traffic signal every day to beg for money or sell their wares to the drivers stuck in traffic. These people come from various backgrounds and have different aspirations, but they are all united by their struggles to survive in a society that often ignores them.
The central character of the movie is Silsila, played by Kunal Kemmu, a young man who serves as the de facto leader of the beggars and vendors around the traffic signal. He is street-smart and resourceful, and he uses his wit and charm to navigate the complex relationships and power dynamics of the community.
Silsila's cohort includes Rani, played by Nitu Chandra, a young woman who sells flowers and dreams of finding a husband who will take her away from the streets. There is also Jaffar, played by Upendra Limaye, a disabled man who sells toys and cigarettes and has a troubled past that haunts him.
The movie weaves together the stories of these and many other characters, exploring their motivations, fears, and hopes. The film is divided into different chapters, each with its own narrative arc, and each shedding light on a different aspect of life around the traffic signal.
One of the movie's strengths is its vivid depiction of the harsh realities of life in Mumbai. The camera lingers on the dirt and grime of the streets, and the dialogue is peppered with the language and idioms of the city's underbelly. The movie also deals with sensitive topics such as prostitution, addiction, and child labor, but it does so with sensitivity and nuance.
At the same time, the movie does not shy away from moments of humor and warmth, showing the resilience and creativity of the characters as they navigate their harsh world. The camaraderie and loyalty among the beggars and vendors are especially heartwarming, providing a ray of hope in an otherwise bleak setting.
The performances in the movie are uniformly excellent, with Kunal Kemmu and Nitu Chandra standing out in particular. Kunal Kemmu brings a quiet intensity and charisma to the role of Silsila, and he manages to convey a sense of vulnerability and compassion despite his tough exterior. Nitu Chandra is equally impressive as Rani, capturing the character's mixture of toughness and vulnerability with nuance and depth.
Director Madhur Bhandarkar infuses the movie with a documentary-style realism, using handheld cameras and natural lighting to create a sense of immediacy and authenticity. He also employs nonlinear storytelling, jumping back and forth in time to give different perspectives on the characters and their situations.
Overall, Traffic Signal is a powerful and moving depiction of life on the fringes of society in Mumbai. It is a movie that explores the complexities of poverty and survival with honesty and sensitivity, providing a glimpse into a world that is often invisible to those who pass by it every day. Through its vivid characters and gripping storytelling, the movie reminds us of the humanity and dignity of those who struggle to make a life on the margins of society.
Traffic Signal is a 2007 drama. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.6.