Inspired by a real-life incident that took place in Chennai, Rajesh Pillai’s Hindi film Traffic is a remake of his own 2011 Malayalam film of the same name. The parents of a traffic accident victim donate the deceased boy’s heart to a critically ill child. The heart must travel from Mumbai to Pune in two and a half hours, a near impossible feat given the traffic and road conditions. In order to achieve this, the police rally around to create a clear passage for the Jeep transporting the heart.

The film follows the intersecting stories of a young doctor and his wife, an injured rookie TV journalist and his conflicted family, a police constable trying to clear his sullied record, a police commissioner (played by Jimmy Shergill) in the control room and the parents of the girl whose survival depends on the timely delivery of the heart. Their lives collide on 25 June 2008.

The little girl’s parents are celebrities. Neither the father, a superstar named Dev Kapoor (Prosenjit), nor his wife, Maya (Divya Dutta), have any qualms about suggesting to the dying boy’s parents (Kitu Gidwani and Sachin Khedekar) that they switch off his life support and pass on the heart to their daughter. Their continued manipulation and selfishness as people of means is taken as the norm, but it sat uncomfortably with me. Traffic constable Ramdas Godbole (Manoj Bajpayee) volunteers to undertake the inter-city road trip. Accompanying him are the deceased boy’s best friend and a doctor (Parambrata Chatterjee) with a secret of his own.

Bobby and Sanjay’s original screenplay, adapted by Suresh Nair, deals with themes of hope, sacrifice and the importance of second chances. The most moving of all the stories is the parents making the ultimate sacrifice of letting their son go, and Gidwani and Khedekar deliver it with grace. Shergill is in fine form as the commissioner with a conscience, and Bajpayee delivers another controlled performance as the determined hero at the wheel.

The film uses split screens and countdowns to accelerate one’s heartbeat, but Traffic’s biggest problem is the absence of frenzy and anticipation.

Traffic released in theatres on Friday

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