Buddha in a Traffic Jam (2016) - Movie Review


By Murtaza Ali Khan (@apotofvestiges)

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Buddha in a Traffic Jam, Movie Poster, Directed by Vivek Agnihotri, starring Anupam Kher, Arunoday Singh, Pallavi Joshi, Mahie Gill, and Anchal Dwivedi
Buddha in a Traffic Jam (2016) By Vivek Agnihotri
Buddha in a Traffic Jam is a 2016 crime thriller film written and directed by Indian filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri. The movie’s ensemble star cast includes the likes of Anupam Kher, Arunoday Singh, Pallavi Joshi, Mahie Gill, and Anchal Dwivedi. Buddha in a Traffic Jam revolves around a maverick business school professor who believes that corruption is essential for economic growth and an MBA student who gets drawn to his philosophy. The film touches upon complex subjects like Naxalism, Crony Socialism, Moral Policing, and Corruption.  

Our Rating: 8.0
IMDb Ratings: 7.3
Genre: Crime | Thriller 
Cast: Anupam Kher, Arunoday Singh, Mahie Gill
Country: India
Language: Hindi
Runtime: 114 min
Color: Color

Buddha in a Traffic Jam is another of those cinematic gems from Hindi cinema that completely went unnoticed at the box-office in the recent times. One wonders what is wrong with the Indian audiences? Here is a film so well made that it offers entertainment and food for thought in equal parts. Yes, it goes a bit haywire towards the end but overall its socio-political commentary and business mantras pack a powerful punch. Perhaps, it is a bit too intelligent for the average moviegoer whose definition of a movie viewing is to have a nice outing with a friend. Who has the time to think about societal problems? After all, we all know that we are living in an incorrigibly corrupt world and it is sheer wastage of time and energy to even think about bringing about a change, let aside working towards it.

Anupam Kher as Professor Bakti in Vivek Agnihotri's Buddha in a Traffic Jam
Anupam Kher as Professor Bakti in Vivek Agnihotri's Buddha in a Traffic Jam
A major chunk of the educated youth of our country is busy trying to find themselves a job. Those who graduate from the top institutes of the country end up with such lucrative job offers from the world's topmost MNCs that even to think of refusing them would be considered ludicrous. So what if our country's own machinery is coming to a standstill in want of the right set of human resources. A major part of our country's budget gets spent on defense when a good educational setup is the need of the hour. Entrepreneurs who are capable of bringing about a change to the economy are themselves a victim of crony capitalism. For, the government is happy to allow a small bunch of big corporate houses to do all the business than to provide a level playing field to the young entrepreneurs.

Arunoday Singh and Pallavi Joshi in Vivek Agnihotri's Buddha in a Traffic Jam
Arunoday Singh and Pallavi Joshi in Vivek Agnihotri's Buddha in a Traffic Jam
The issue at the heart of Buddha in a Traffic Jam is the Naxalite crisis. But the film shows us a different side to Naxalism. This is no longer the 1970s and the Naxalite leaders understand this fully. So they too have evolved. Not only have they found new ways of keeping their revolution running but they have also managed to penetrate the modern society in different capacities. It is no longer a struggle in the jungle for these 21st century Naxalite revolutionaries, for they are a part of a consortium whose only job is to ensure the sustainability of the sophisticated business model designed by the high thinkers amongst them. It is a cerebral game wherein the smartest thrive. Buddha in a Traffic Jam is well researched and extremely well made. The film presents its ideas in a fluid manner:  be it the ‘Pink Bra’ campaign to highlight the dark side of moral policing or the ‘Potter’s Club’ business model to accentuate the importance of eliminating the middlemen.

Mahie Gill in Vivek Agnihotri's Buddha in a Traffic Jam
Mahie Gill in Vivek Agnihotri's Buddha in a Traffic Jam
Overall, Buddha in a Traffic Jam is powerful film about morality, corruption and social injustice that forces us to think about things which we don’t usually pay heed to. It is not just the choice of subjects but the brave treatment of subjects that makes the film highly relevant to our times. The movie’s screenplay, direction and acting performances are absolutely topnotch. Anupam Kher here delivers one of the finest performances of his career. The other performances are also quite solid, especially those of Mahie Gill and Pallavi Joshi. As far as the technical aspects are concerned, Buddha in a Traffic Jam is quite brilliant, especially given it relatively small budget. The music and songs stand out. It is real pity that a film was unjustly panned by the Indian left-wing lobby at the time of its release. Hopefully, it will gain better traction with the audiences in the times to come. If you are looking for a thought-provoking film then Buddha in a Traffic Jam will not disappoint you. 

Readers, please feel free to share your views/opinions in the comment box below. As always your insightful comments are highly appreciated!

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